Green tip for week #12 — Week of July 20, 2008

Buy in bulk and refill common household cleaners

This week we want to focus your attention on reducing packaging waste by buying in bulk and refilling items that can be easily refilled. How many times have you run out of dish soap, only to buy another small-size dish soap from wherever you happen to be running your errands? Or how about the times you have purchased a bottle of your favorite kitchen cleaning spray only to go out a few weeks later to buy some again?

What we often forget is that with many of the common household goods we use, “convenient” does not equal “responsible”. Each time we buy the smallest size container of whatever it is we’re purchasing, we may do it because it’s easier to carry, easier to store, it costs less (at the time of purchase) or one of a variety of other reasons; however, the environmental cost is much greater. Purchasing in bulk or in larger containers cuts down not only the cost and environmental impact of packaging, but it cuts down on the transportation cost and the cost/inconvenience/impact of us making a second trip to buy the item again.

Most soaps, cleaners, solutions, etc. can now be bought in a variety of sizes, and many companies have become smart and responsible enough to offer refillable containers and product refills that allow us to continue to refill the existing container (keeps their production cost down and brand loyalty up, also). Your favorite grocery store or wherever you shop likely already has these options available.

Another great option is to buy items you can in bulk. Stores such as Costco, Sam’s Club and others have helped make this more convenient and cost effective for consumers everywhere (at least in more populated cities). You can buy boxes that contain two bags of cereal instead of one, two pounds of coffee at a time, paper products in nearly infinite supplies, and many other common household items in very large supplies.

Not only does bulk purchasing cut down on packaging and waste, but it helps you to always keep your shelves, pantry, and storage areas stocked with back-up for items you use everyday, which will save you the inconvenience, time and environmental impact of having to run to the store just for napkins, paper towels, or extra coffee filters.

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