Monday, February 2, 2015

Bulk Barn Hates the Earth

 bulk food
Lately I've been inspired by reading blogs and articles focusing on low and zero - waste. Its a lofty goal, to be sure, but there are certainly easy ways to reduce superfluous plastic and garbage from our lives.

And so it was this weekend, when I needed cinnamon and some peanut butter, that I decided to gather a mason jar and a spice tin in a reusable cloth bag and head to my local Bulk Barn.  From what I had read, one simply asks the cashier to weigh the containers before filling them and subtract the weight from the final price.  Simple.


Not at Bulk Barn. A smirking cashier at the first location told me it was not hygenic to use my containers as they couldn't be sure how clean they were. She was not amused by my "oh, are the plastic bags you have here sterilized?". I said it sweetly, while smiling, I swear.

Nonetheless, she sent me on my way. Sadly, I don't like to be told "no" and so I drove to the next nearest location (the irony of driving two places in the pursuit of sustainability is not lost on me, by the way) to give it another shot. This time, the employee I asked looked downright offended. He said (loudly) "the Health Department would NEVER allow that!". I asked what the specific health concerns were and he said (loudly, again) "Look, I don't make the rules. Y'know what, you'll have to just call corporate headquarters ok? I have no idea". People were honestly staring at this point, that's how loudly he was speaking. I thanked him for his time, put my items in the appropriately spic and span plastic containers available at the store and went to the check-out.

He found me. Again, speaking at a volume that was clearly intended to get the attention of other people, he said "I just though of something else, how do you expect us to weigh it all?". I explained he could weigh my jar empty and subtract that from the final weight, which caused him to throw up his hands and scoff "well, I don't KNOW. I don't make the rules! Call head office!".


Upon further Googling, it seems that Bulk Barn has a corporate policy to not allow reusable containers in their store. In fact, you are not allowed to wash and re-use their own containers either. Despite the fact that many other bulk retailers are able to get around this issue and the Big Bad Health Department's rules, Bulk Barn cannot.

Or should I say, will not.

I do plan to write an email to corporate head office, though from what I've read many others have done so to no avail and in fact without receiving so much as a reply from the company.  I probably will not shop at Bulk Barn again, hopefully finding another bulk store close by with a commitment to environmental stewardship and customer service.

In the meantime, I'll dream of shopping here.

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