Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Bulk Food and Paper Napkins, Dichotomy?

I was in line today at Whole Foods and watched the lady in front of me as the checker beeped her items through the scanner. She had three large, bags of bulk nuts of various types. They looked like the size of soccer balls, had to have been more than a few pounds. Her total purchase consisted of a bag of sugar, organic of course, three huge bag of nuts and two packages of dinner napkins.

I was standing there impressed the lady remembered the bin codes from the bulk nuts; thinking to myself, man, she must buy a lot of nuts to remember the codes! As I was pondering this thought I glanced down and saw the dinner napkins. And odd purchase to me. Paper dinner napkins don't seem very earth friendly, which I think shoppers at Whole Foods are...for the most part, and they don't really seem to match up with the person I think would buy bulk items.

I say this because, in my opinion, people buy bulk food items for two reasons, cost and reduction of waste. Maybe people buy bulk for quality but as far as I can tell there isn't much difference in quality when it comes to Whole Foods and packaged verses bulk. 

Cost. Bulk items are often less expensive both in price overall and just in the fact a person can buy just what they need. (Ah, the latter also reduces waste!)

Waste. The idea behind bulk is the manufacturer doesn't have to spend money on packaging so they pass that savings onto the customer. The customer then uses a store provided baggie or container.

Stay with me...if these in fact are the two main reasons people buy bulk, and I proport they are, it seems odd to me a person concerned with cost and waste would buy paper dinner napkins, again, basically in bulk. (She purchased two packages.) And these weren't decorative napkins for a dinner party or shower. These were plain white napkins, nice ones but still plain and paper.

If you want a cheap option, go cloth; if you want a "less waste" option, go cloth.  You can buy sale napkins for less than a dollar a piece, or go to Goodwill and buy yourself last seasons perfectly good napkins some Highland Park mom discarded.

I personally don't have paper towels or paper napkins in my house. I only have the occasional random paper napkins some drive through cashier gives me; they never seem to think twice about provided a wad of napkins. I use dish towels and cloth napkins; it's what my parents always did/do and it seems to make sense. I just throw them in the washer and they get washed whenever I do laundry, which is daily since I have sweaty yoga clothes every day.

So the question is, is buying bulk items and paper napkins a dichotomy? 

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