Get a taste for low waste - the Wasteless Pantry story

Posted on: February 6, 2024

Join the GREAT Sorts in your neighbourhood who embrace low waste living by shopping at their local bulk food store.

A bulk food store is a type of grocery shop that specialises in selling a wide variety of food products in bulk bins or dispensers. Most stores encourage customers to bring their own containers, but a range of clean, donated containers are also available for use, free of charge.

After seven years of successful operation, the Wasteless Pantry now has stores in Bassendean and Mundaring. Founders Amanda Welschbillig and Jeannie Richardson started their journey one Plastic Free July, when they realised they had nowhere local to go to get what they needed, without the excess plastic packaging.

Wondering whether others in their community felt the same, they launched a Facebook survey, and after 500 encouraging responses, the idea for the Wasteless Pantry was born.    

As well as commercial success, the Wasteless Pantry earned recognition in the sustainability space when they won the Community Waste Award at the 2020 Infinity Awards (now known as the WasteSorted Awards).

Beyond their role as a retail business, their commitment extends to educating customers, suppliers, and the broader community about waste reduction. Here they share some of their top tips to kickstart a low waste journey.

Start with the easiest thing
One misconception that can put people off jumping on the low waste train, is the idea that it’s hard to do – it’s not. “Pick the low hanging fruit to start with,” says Jeannie. Just choose the easiest thing to get rid of and start there. Maybe it’s remembering to take your reusable water bottle or bringing your own shopping bags instead of buying new ones. Anything you do is a step forward in the right direction!

Buy what you need
One of the beauties of bulk food stores is the flexibility they offer. You can purchase exactly the quantity your family requires, minimising food waste and packaging in one go.

Use what you already have
You don't need to rush out to buy a set of perfectly matching glass jars. Simply repurpose old sauce jars or jam containers that would otherwise end up in the bin.

Start slowly and cultivate habits
Embarking on a low waste journey can feel overwhelming, but remember, every little change counts. Begin by tackling the area in your home that generates the most waste. Start with one product and explore low waste alternatives.

For instance, you might opt for zero waste choices with items you purchase occasionally, like flour, coffee beans, or olive oil. Once you start, these eco-conscious habits become second nature.

Take a container with you
Even if you don’t live near a bulk food store, there are plenty of shops and restaurants that are willing to offer a low waste alternative. Take your keep cup to your local cafe or take a container with you to the butcher.

Don’t let the pricing fool you
Walking into a bulk food store can sometimes lead to initial sticker shock. Items are often priced per kilogram, which might appear steep when compared to pre-packaged goods. However, the truth unfolds at the checkout where you’ll find that many items are equally priced or even cheaper than their packaged counterparts.

Don’t live near Mundaring or Bassendean? Check out our ultimate guide to bulk food shops in Western Australia.

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