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Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Plastic in Bulk

One of my strategies for cutting down on my single use plastic consumption is to limit or eliminate plastic packaging - especially that which comes in contact with my food. I THOUGHT I'd be able to visit my local Bulk Barn and bring in my own containers and fabric bags. However - this is not the case. My last visit ended with a terse conversation with the teller who informed me I couldn't use my bags because of the risk of cross-contamination. I know she was only doing her job - and I tried to remain polite throughout our conversation - but at the end of the exchange I let her know that I would not be able to shop at Bulk Barn again if I had to use their plastic bags to transport my goods. I also felt frustrated that this policy of not bringing in one's own containers was not adequately signed in the store so I was unaware of the rules until I was subjected to a lecture. I have been a customer of bulk stores since University and I appreciate how they provide variety as well as healthy and organic items. I decided to write a letter to Bulk Barn to encourage them to regain my patronage. Feel free to copy/paste/adjust/and send your own copy. Sometimes companies who already seem to promote environmental choice are more open to going that extra green step.


Bulk Barn Foods Limited
Corporate Office
55 Leek Crescent
Beaver Creek Business Park
Richmond Hill, Ontario
L4B 3Y2

To Whom it may concern,

I have been a long time customer of the Bulk Barn and appreciate your business model that allows customers to purchase only the amount of items they need in minimal packaging. I also admire your offering of products and how you have expanded your inventory to include organic, vegan, and gluten free merchandise. However, I am writing to ask you to go further with your environmental initiatives as that is/was one of the primary reasons I shopped at your store. I realize you are concerned with cross-contamination so you don’t allow patrons to bring their own bags – but by banning this activity you discourage customers from limiting their consumption of single use plastic. This is a primary concern of environmentalists as plastic does not degrade and contributes to landfill, leaches toxins, and can be consumed by wildlife. Therefore, if you will not allow customers to use their own clean containers – could you at least provide paper (biodegradable) or biodegradable plastic bags?

Also, I was shopping at your establishment this morning and witnessed the stocking of bins and shelves. Many products (bulk or otherwise) came encased in plastic, which was discarded once the product was poured into another plastic filmed container. Any used plastic was then placed in ANOTHER plastic bag and when I asked the employee what happened to that packaging he informed me that it was thrown out. Could you please look into recycling this material? It is possible – some grocery stores take back plastic bags and companies such as Terracycle have a send-in program.

I would love a response to this letter. I maintain an environmental blog – and will be posting this communication on it. Any response you send will be posted as well and I’m sure my readers would be interested in your position on these requests. In the meantime, I will be shopping at other bulk establishments in order to lessen my environmental footprint.


Andra Kelly

1 comment:

  1. Hey guys, there is a new (as in just today) petition started to convince Bulk Barn to reverse its backwards policy on mandatory single use plastics.

    Sign and share it around. Hopefully together we can get them to change and provide Canada wide access to plastic free food shopping!