Earth Day, started in 1970, is a driving force of environmental awareness around the world. The official Earth Day is April 22 of each year, but sanctioned events are often held in the days and weeks prior and subsequent. In recognizing Earth Day, organizations around the world launch initiatives aimed at greening the planet and countless individuals make resolutions to become more environmentally responsible.
“One of the easiest green habits a person can adopt is to choose bulk foods over their packaged counterparts,” said Clint Landis, a director of the Bulk Is Green Council and chief marketing officer of Frontier Natural Products Co-op. The Bulk Is Green Council is an advocacy organization helping consumers, food manufacturers and grocers learn about the environmental and economic benefits of bulk foods.
Bulk foods are sold without a printed package. Beans, cereal, nuts, candy, granola, coffee, tea, pasta, flour, herbs, spices … Today, almost any food can be delivered from its source to the consumer in bulk form – and historically, bulk foods, including organic and natural varieties, are priced lower than their packaged counterparts, often as much as 50 percent.
Organic and natural bulk foods provide a more sustainable means of delivering food to the consumer, according to Landis. Since there is no package, deforestation and wastewater for the creation of paper and cardboard are greatly reduced, as is the use of petrochemicals for the creation of plastic and ink.
There are landfills to be considered as well. Today, in spite of consumers’ increased incidence of recycling, an estimated 15 percent of landfill mass is attributed to food packaging. Another green benefit of bulk foods is that they can be delivered from the manufacturer to the grocer’s shelf more efficiently because they are packed more densely for transport. That reduces CO2 emissions into the atmosphere.
Long a staple of grocery stores specializing in natural and organic foods, bulk foods are rapidly becoming part of the product mix of conventional grocers. Modern systems for dispensing bulk foods have enclosed clear bins to protect the food and allow the consumer to gauge its quality. A valve at the bottom of the bin allows the consumer to dispense the amount desired, large or small.
More information about the economic and environmental benefits of bulk foods can be found at www.bulkisgreen.org. Joining Landis on the Bulk Is Green Council are Scott Johnson of Trade Fixtures, Sarah Galusha of the Hain Celestial Group, Morty Cohen of SunRidge Farms and Aaron Anker of GrandyOats.