Shopping more ‘consciously’ (sorry for the word, it cringes me out too but it is actually the most accurate word I can find to describe it) is something I’m becoming increasingly passionate about. Whether I’m comparing prices (yes I take notebooks to the supermarket and am always on the look out for discounted items), ethics (I recently found out about this awesome new ethical online department store) or reducing my plastic consumption, it’s a huge focus of mine.
But still, the inconvenience of traveling with my bags and jars (although buggies do come in very handy for this) or simply the lack of options means sometimes I need to mix things up. Additionally, there are some items that I just can’t find plastic free. Halloumi, I’m looking at you. And if I am going to buy plastic, I want it to be a big kick off 5 litre vat of washing up liquid rather than 5 small bottles. Enter bulk buying. And kilograms of cous cous and coffee and baking soda arriving to your doorstep. So here’s what you need to know to place your own order:
Which bulk store to order from?
Searching on Google will bring up a tonne of different online stores but I use Suma which is a co-operative which means it’s run by its members – everyone at Suma gets paid the same wage, regardless of what job they do and all their products are sourced ethically. They only sell vegetarian products, specialising in organic, vegan and fairtrade, which suits us really well. Bear in mind if you do go with Suma that they have a minimum spend of £250 and they’ll also direct you to to shop with a partner store which stocks their products if there’s one super local to you, so it’s worth calling them first just to check in.
Get a gang! Social media is your friend here, and in particular local Facebook groups. I put a message out on my local Parents group and within a day I had 11 other local parents wanting to be involved. I started an email chain going to gauge who was ‘in in’ and then got a Whatsapp group going to work out finer details. I then created a spreadsheet which you can find here. Note also the column comparing prices with supermarket prices – bulk buying saves you money!
Got my crew – now what?
Phone Suma (such lovely people!) who will provide you with guest login details which you can share with the group enabling everyone to peruse the website to check out the products. Agree to a window of time (we do 4 weeks) to allow people to choose the products they want and enter them into the spreadsheet. Once ready to place the order, we ask everyone to transfer the funds before placing the order. The first time ordering, the account holder needs to phone Suma to activate the account properly, provide bank account details and awesomely, Suma allow you to send their Sales team your spreadsheet and they then process the order. So convenient. Note that the order gets consolidated under the account holder but each person get their own separate invoice, which is also super handy.
It’s a super simple, plastic- reducing, money -saving process (I check every item rigorously against the supermarket equivalent) and means we are stocked in staples such as quinoa, coffee and fairy liquid for some time to come – happy days ! It’s also allowed me to start building a community of like minded local mamas in our area. What’s not to love?
Do you buy bulk? If so, I’d love you to share where? And if you don’t, might you consider it now?
P.S How To Reduce Waste and Live With Less and Zero Waste Parenting Tips
I was amazed by the fact that information provided by you in this blog is so helpful , It finally clearde my mind about bulk buying myths.
Thankyou for such wonderful article
Unfortunately I couldn’t set up a Suma account because of a local stockist nearby, but they only stock a tiny handful of products, none of them bulk. The lovely Suma lady pointed me to The Ethical Superstore, an online supermarket that stock Suma and other ethical brands. They only have a £50 minimum order before free delivery, but not all of their stuff is bulk as such (shampoo, washing liquid etc all is though?) It’s a good solution for us.
Thanks for such a detailed post. This is something I’m going to try locally. I did a local survey about setting up
A package free shop
Earlier this year but for now I don’t think it is the right move as I’m still a full time Mums. However, I have been buying bulk for a few years now of cleaning products: biggreensmile sell bulk ecover and other products. One large box of washing up liquid lasts over a year! I dispense it into my regular (3 yrs old) bottle. I also buy the zero washing powder, 7.5kg paper sack. Plus other bulk things. It has been a huge saving and reduction on packaging. It’s also great as it gets delivered to the door. I love ‘who gives a crap’ and get their 50 roll boxes which lasts forevha! The main sticking point has been bulk food so thank you again for your post as this may just be the way forward to solve this bit. Love what you’re doing x
Perhaps an improvement to a supermarket and great for raising awareness through forming a group and maybe saving money. But it’s my belief that buying food/cleaning products/toiletries not wrapped in plastic is the only solution to the plastic problem. Buying being second to making your own that is!
I love this Emma! I’ve been researching for a while to find somewhere local to buy packaging free but it seems like this is nearly impossible outside London. Thanks for these great resources xx
so welcome! <3 x
I buy Suma through my local shop, they adds about 10% so it supports them too as we live in a small village. By adding my stuff onto their order it means they can order more regularly and make the minimum spend. The one down side ironically seems to be that it comes in loads of packaging – cardboard boxes, plastic wraps, Im sure it is less than I might bring in from a supper market shop but when you see it all at once its a bit shocking! I have also recently started buying loo roll from “who gives a crap” love that stuff and their ethics. I also find a veg box massively cuts down on my plastic waste. love your blog and Insta, it can be so hard to find out about this sort of stuff so I applaud you for trying to demonstrate how it can be done and recommend how to do it for real x
YEss buying Suma through local outlets is great. re the packaging, as i didnt receive the delivery i didnt see all this immediately though i did notice this on their website: http://www.suma.coop/about/packaging-statement/ Going to check out who gives a crap for sure ! and thanks for your kind words about my blog, thanks for being here x x x
Who gives a crap are?