While working on embellir, I tended to focus exclusively on food waste. I was constantly looking for effective ways to reduce it, as well as increasing awareness and giving people the right tools to do so in their day-to-day lives. Yet, working with Romarin helped me realize that the aim should be to reduce waste in general. Foods come packed in enormous amounts of plastics, for the purpose of conservation (or not) and are then thrown away. Humans produce over 300 million tons of plastic every year, 50% of which are for single-use purposes. So these plastics are to be used for one day, but remain in our environment for at least a few hundred years. They end up in oceans and in our general environment, resulting in even more damage. Now picture yourself a plastic bag thrown into the ocean, from a product that was not even eaten but wasted...
This summer, Embellir had the amazing opportunity to collaborate with the Zero Waste store Romarin and Faisenpour2 on a project called Les Collations Solidaires, in order to provide healthy snacks to children and families in need because of the Covid-19 situation. Thanks to this collaboration, I realized the numerous benefits of buying in bulk and how it makes you more mindful of your consumption choices in general.
Here are some advantages of buying in bulk:
A lot of people don't think of this, but you actually reduce the amount of transportation needed since the individual foods need less packaging. Everything is packed in very large quantities, instead of individual small packages. So basically, there is no need to transport and/or produce the packaging to where the food is produced, thus less CO2 is emitted into the atmosphere.
A lot of people argue that it is cheaper to buy in bulk since you don't pay for the branding and the packaging. While I globally agree with this, I really believe that it depends on what and how much you buy.
What I really like about the bulk store is that I can buy the quantities that I actually need and not compromise with the offered prepackaged options. So imagine you have decided to follow a recipe and you need a certain amount of rice, or lentils or anything, you can buy this exact amount and avoid any waste. You can even try out new things without directly buying a huge amount. I really like this flexibility and I have become more aware of what I actually consume.
This brings us to number 4: buying in bulk makes you more conscious and mindful of the quantity and the quality of the products that you are buying.
Of course, the most obvious and biggest benefit is plastic reduction, specifically single-use plastics. You can come with your bags and other containers and just refill them with anything you want.
Ultimately, buying in bulk is an environmentally friendly and sustainable way to buy your groceries.
While this blog is focused on giving the tools to reduce food waste, for us all waste should be addressed, including plastic waste. And in order to get a little more insight, I decided to ask a few internal questions to Romain and Isabelle, the owners of the Zero Waste store, Romarin.
Interview with ROMARIN
"We are Isabelle and Romain, a couple and business partners for the Romarin Project: a grocery store dedicated to bulk selling and to the Zero Waste movement. It is located on the Saint Laurent Boulevard in the heart of the Mile-End. "
Why did you decide to build a bulk store? What is the story behind it? What keeps you motivated?
"The birth of our son was definitely the starting point. Regarding our former careers and parenthood, we didn’t see how we could make this work. Isabelle and I had been working on a business project for several years at that time, and ultimately, we decided to approach our future in the form of a grocery store. "
What do you think about food waste? Is food management a reason behind the establishment of the bulk store?
"For us, it is really the overpacking that repels and revolts us. It is the true reason behind the creation of Romarin!
Obviously, Food waste is just as much a scourge to fight. For now, we are doing pretty well by paying a lot of attention to the quantities we order and we don’t hesitate to sell items cheaper when the fruits and vegetables start to become less fresh. At an individual level, buying in bulk and more precise quantities truly makes a difference in the amount of food wasted. "
How are you managing food waste at Romarin?
"What we waste most are obviously vegetables and fruits (to a lesser extent). Their shelf life is honestly short.
We have had some incidents with some dairy products, yet this remains anecdotal.
For us, rigorous stock and inventory management are key, as well as increased and careful surveillance of more sensitive products. And as I mentioned above, smaller but more regular orders.
We mainly base ourselves on the former week’s statistics to try and determine the trends, information that we intersect with the calendar to try and anticipate the ups and downs in supply. Our observation after one year: it is very difficult! "
What is your message to our blog readers?
"Whether you are a beginner or an expert in the reduction of your waste, every step counts, nobody is perfect. The key point that should be remembered here: everyone should just try to improve as much as they can, while taking into consideration one’s own reality. "
Go pay them a visit to meet these amazing people, ask your questions and discover the wide variety of foods that you can buy in bulk! This is an easy way to reduce your use of plastic, as well as getting a better feeling of the appropriate quantities to buy.
Or go visit them in person at 5251 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Montreal QC H2T 1S4 :)
I wish you all a Merry Christmas and relaxing holidays!