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Your guide to bulk shopping in Austin

In honor of Earth Month, here are some tips for cutting back on plastic waste in ATX.

A shelf with products in jars at Slow North

Refill on bath products and cleaning supplies at Slow North.

Photo by @slownorth

Happy Earth Month, Austin. In recognition of our beautiful planet and efforts to preserve it, we’re answering your questions on how to live more sustainably in ATX.

In a recent survey, we asked you what type of sustainability tips you’re most interested in learning about, and 44% of you said the big one: reducing plastic waste.

Americans produced ~40 million tons of plastic waste in 2021 alone. About one third of that is consumer product packaging, the vast majority of which ends up in a landfill.

These are daunting numbers, but consumers do have tools for cutting down on plastic waste by shopping in bulk — all you need to get started are some reusable containers and a grocery list.

Bulk shopping involves filling your own containers with goods from a store’s deli counter or refill stations, which often contain dry goods like beans, pasta, and grains. Bulk shopping is priced per pound, so you’ll need to know the weight of your container to be able to subtract it from the total weight at the end.

Now that you’re ready to go, you can find basic refillable dry goods at most local grocery stores, including H-E-B, Central Market and Wheatsville Co-Op. You can also find specialty items like bath products and cleaning supplies at local bulk-only stores, like Luxe Refill or Slow North.

The best way to reduce plastic waste is to not make it at all, but if you find yourself with some plastics on hand, you can still dispose of them sustainably.

Austin Resource Recovery takes most types of hard plastics in your blue bin, and you can also recycle thin plastic bags at your local grocery stores. In honor of Earth Month, H-E-B recently expanded its thin bag recycling to curbside deliveries.

Happy sustainable shopping, Austin.