Less Waste Shopping – Bulk 101

On a rewarding journey!

Going on a less waste journey is really rewarding and a LOT LESS complicated than most people expect it to be. What do you think you can buy in bulk with your own containers? Chips? No. Cheese? Yes! Meat? Yes! Vanilla? Yes! Essential Oils? Yes! Fish? Yes! Dip? Yes! Apple Cider Vinegar? Yes and all in Nelson. At the end of this post, you will find a list of what you can buy in bulk in town.

Hopefully, this list will keep on getting longer. I visited all the stores on the list. You will be surprised by the offer and the choices. Store’s owners are getting on it more and more. Are you ready?

Resisting the change?

Maybe you are inspired by friends and neighbors who produce less garbage? Maybe you want to make changes but for some reason, you keep pushing your start date? Maybe you feel some pressure on your shoulders or guilt about having to do something regarding climate change but, it blocks you instead of giving you the energy to do something. I understand and I’m sending you a virtual hug. No need for these negative feelings. I know it’s action time but the saying Slowly but surely does really apply here in order to create a real change. What about having fun with it? Explore. Be creative. We all have different needs, different strengths, different limitations. Just start with that. I believe in you!

Let’s explore buying in bulk with your own containers!

Containers: You don’t need to buy new containers. Just reuse what you already have, like glass jars, see-through plastic containers of different sizes, little net bags. Reuse your paper bags or fabric gift/snack bags that you can close. Insert them in your reusable grocery bags. Keep your empty vanilla, oil, vinegar, hand soap and shampoo, dish and laundry soap bottles. No need to buy new ones, refill them instead.

Wait, don’t go shop right now! I have some tips for you.

Before you go shopping:
1. Look at your grocery list at home and figure out what you could and will refill. Bring the appropriate containers for these items. Bring extras.
2. If you reuse containers with a bar code, cross it off so it won’t have the chance to be added on your bill by mistake. Happened to me a few times.
3. Make sure your containers are clean and dry.
4. Bring wide mouth containers and bags that can open wide for some bulk sections like the tubes. I remember the day I brought my bags for my nuts. I was so proud to finally bring them only to realize they could not fit on all the tubes. I had a good laugh. Learning curve!
5. Leave some bags and containers in your car or backpack, if you decide to buy a few items at the last minute, they are there for you to grab.

In Store:
1. You don’t want to pay for the weight of your containers, right? So, you have to tare your containers before adding any food in them. The Coop has a tare station in the bulk section, so nice and easy. Any cashiers can also tare your containers. In most other stores, you have to ask a cashier to tare. They don’t mind at all! They appreciate what you are doing. Don’t feel funny about it! I even won a $25 gift card once for bringing my own containers. The Coop does a draw once a month. If you are a member, every time you bring your containers, you have a chance to win and nothing to fill in. Look at your receipt ; ).

2. Tare your bags too, they do weight something.

3. There is no bulk police around to check you out. Have fun!

If you really want to buy some supplies to get you started, I would recommend:
-Wide mouth glass jars
-The Carebags available at the Coop in the produce department
-Bags that have tare on them (in grams for Canada)
-Bread bags at Kootenay Bakery.

I will have a post for you soon on zero waste beer and wine shopping in Nelson. I really hope this article helped you.

Know another place to buy in bulk? You would like to highlight another item available in bulk? Leave a comment and I will happily include it in the list.

Leave a comment anyway! It cheers me up! Looking forward to seeing you in bulk aisle!





Kootenay Coop

Tare station in bulk + any cashier

  • Bulk section: nuts, pastas, rice, baking, confection, tea, herbs and spices, candies and snacks, grains, seeds, sea vegetables, legumes, dry fruits, dry soup, pancakes and waffles mix, falafel mix, cereals (granola), honey and olive oil.

  • Next to bulk: dish and laundry soap

  • Meat: any meat at the counter, Wednesday full chicken

  • Next to Meat: almond and peanut butter, veganaise, tahini, sunflower oil, maple syrup, sesame oil, rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, liquid aminos, tamari, canola oil.

  • Dairy: kombucha, goat and cow feta, dip, salsa, hummus and tofu.

  • Cheese Counter: vanilla (ask staff)

  • Olives Bar: many kind of olives and marinated items like artichokes, bruschetta and roasted tomatoes.

  • Wellness: essential oils (ask staff), Castille soaps, shampoo, conditioner, almond oil.

  • Produce: salad, spinach, sprouts, 6 kinds of mushrooms.

  • In alley: Oso Negro coffee.


Costu-mer service

Nuts, pastas, herbs, spices and tea, flour, candies, dry fruits, baking, grains, seeds.


Ask cashier

Spices, herbs, nuts, herb de Provence, nutritional yeast, seeds, wasabi peas, rice, pasta and teas.


Deli cashier only

Deli’s items only. If you buy items from bulk section you will pay for the weight of your containers.

Fish Market

Ask cashier

Fish, meat, bulk packs* (phone first please, *might have not room, case by case). Bring very clean containers.

Nature’s Health

Ask cashier

Front store: herbs.

Back of the store: teas and some dry food.

Organic Matters

Nothing yet


Chez Totoche

Ask cashier

Meat, cheese, bread, sandwiches and party orders.

Au Soleil Levant

No tare needed

Bread, cookies and sandwiches.

Kootenay Bakery

Ask a cashier

Bread, pastries, lunch (tare needed).They sell bread bags. You get a reduction on bread when shopping with it.

Coffee shops

Oso Negro

Ask cashier

Coffee beans available. Only 1 pound of coffee at the time.

John Ward

Ask cashier Espresso coffee beans available. Only 1 pound of coffee at the time.

No. 6

Ask cashier

All of their beans


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