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Green challenges

Thinking global and acting local, Julie Grundy takes on any challenge we throw at her.

Three reasons to buy in bulk

Save money

Credit: iStockphoto

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How's your bulk-buy challenge going? Have you had a chance to check out the shops yet for giant packages?

There are several good reasons to give this challenge a go. Did you know that the average Australian throws out 90 kilos of packaging material each year? It's ridiculous! Buying in bulk means that you have less packaging with what you buy, and often it's a simpler type of material that's easier to recycle.

Of course, if you've done our previous nude-food challenge, or have given up bottled water and takeaway coffee, then you're already on your way to reducing that 90 kilos. Since it just sits in landfill producing methane, or finds it's way into our rivers and wetlands and oceans, anything we can do to get that number down is a good thing. Plus, just think of all the oil and trees it took to make the plastic and cardboard - what a waste!

You'll also be reducing transport emissions: bulk products are easier to transport and take up less room than single-serves and small items, so we don't need as many trucks and planes to haul them around. I find that a lot of my local grocers and butchers are happy to sell in bulk when supermarkets won't, so that's another way to cut transport miles.

But as always, our favourite reason to go green is that it saves us money. Buying in bulk isn't just cutting waste and pollution, it's cheaper than the alternative too. Why pay for all that packaging and marketing when it's going in the bin anyway?

For example, look at olive oil prices. I picked a popular brand at my supermarket, which comes in 500 mL, one litre and four litre sizes. The 500 mL one costs $2.70 per 100 mL, the one litre $1.95/100 mL, and the four litre $1.89 for the same. So what's the point in buying the smallest one? I usually get a local brand that comes in a 2 litre cask and it's worked out very well for me.