Good news! BulkBarn recently started a concept test at its new Liberty Village location: the store is now allowing customers to bring their own containers to fill rather than the usual disposable plastic bags.
BulkBarn is a chain that proposes mostly food items in bulk, free of plastic packaging. The advantages for the customer are mostly savings. Yes, packaging and marketing come with a cost that is always transferred to the final product (economics 101).
For eco-conscious consumers who try to reduce the amount of waste they produce, it is also a great solution to avoid multiple packaging that weigh a lot on our landfills. In the past, BulkBarn has been reluctant to allow its customers to bring their own containers. Hygiene and safety reasons were mentioned to justify a policy that many customers questioned. I also found the brand’s arguments not compelling when many markets (St Lawrence included) were already allowing BYOC or when other safety “threats” appeared more real (children snacking from the bins?).
The chain changed its mind and recently decided to allow the practice in Liberty Village. The concentration of Millennials (supposedly more opened to change) in this area of Toronto convinced the chain to try the concept there.
Today, I decided to go and see by myself. The concept is easy: Clean, weigh, scoop, pay.
I brought my own boxes and had them weighed first. After a quick inspection, the cashier put a little sticker on them indicating their weigh, so that I pay only for my food. I came back a few minutes later with the boxes filled with pasta and beans, paid, and voilà!
I think it is great that BulkBarn allowed the concept and I hope it will help raise awareness of the practice and foster conversations about reducing waste. When the cashier started putting my boxes in a plastic bag and I had to say no, she looked surprised (if not shocked). When I asked about the adoption of the concept in her store, she told me that so far people haven’t been bringing their own containers a lot. Let’s hope that curious consumers will question why fellow shoppers bring their containers and be tempted to try. I am convinced that a financial incentive, even minimal, would help. Humans are like that, our brains are just wired to love rewards.
Time will tell how the initiative is received but for now, let’s talk about it and ask other BulkBarn(s) to follow!
(update 26/11/16: Other BulkBarns have followed the Liberty Village example since I published the post and are now also proposing BYOC!!)