Bulk Shopping in NYC

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Anna Anna
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Bulk Shopping in NYC

I had my first bulk shopping experience in NYC at a Whole Foods. Although the staff was patient and nice about my bags and jar (for bulk peanut butter), they told me to use their plastic bags next time. I went to the Whole Foods on the Upper West Side. Has anyone had better experiences with other locations? And do you recommend going back to the same store repeatedly until they become comfortable with your zero waste efforts?

I have read that Lauren Singer goest to Integrated Yoga on 14th Street. Has anyone been there and found zero waste shopping to be a more straightforward experience?
Heather Heather
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Re: Bulk Shopping in NYC

I live in Danbury CT! Close to NYC and I have learned that the whole foods near me also doesn't except my jars!! They have worked with me for somethings, they hand me the bread over the counter to put into the bags!! The only problem I am having is with purchasing meat! I would have figured that whole foods would be better. They said it was a safety reason why they can't take our jars to put meat in them! Therefore I am stuck finding a store or away to get meat without producing waste :(
Anna Anna
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Re: Bulk Shopping in NYC

Hi Heather,

I wrote to the manager and he said I could use my reusable jars and bags. Here's the email I sent to him:

Case Information:
Store: Upper West Side (UWS)
Subject: Store Experience
Customer Comments: I shopped at this branch yesterday and was impressed by the lovely employees. I purchased items from the bulk section using my own bags and sterilized glass jar after ensuring this was okay through a phone call to the store the morning before I went. I provided the tare of my jar on the jar and on the bags per Whole Foods instructions. The evening employees were unfamiliar with what I was doing but worked hard to ensure that I was charged the appropriate amount for my items. It took them a long time to do this. As a result of their confusion and the time required to sort it out, they requested that I use plastic next time. Given Whole Foods' commitment to the environment, would you consider making your employees in this branch more familiar with how to deal with shoppers using environmentally friendly containers? I believe that this friendly staff would have had an easier time accommodating my environmental efforts if they had been trained to deal with them ahead of time and could have processed my purchases more swiftly and with less confusion.

I look forward to hearing back from you so that I can plan my future trips to this location of Whole Foods!

Maybe you could give that a try. When I went back everything went really smoothly!
Heather Heather
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Re: Bulk Shopping in NYC

Thank you :)!!! I will send out an email tonight!
Stephanie Stephanie
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Re: Bulk Shopping in NYC

In reply to this post by Anna
Hi Anna!

I've been to Integral Yoga in Manhattan. They are super patient and accommodating about using your own containers. They take the time to tare all your containers before shopping (sometimes my boyfriend and I would come with about 10 different glass containers). They also have a wide variety of bulk food (flours, beans, pasta, grains, cereals, nuts, tea, spices) and soap. Only thing, being that it is Manhattan, it's a bit pricey. But, it did allow us to restock on everything we needed at once (with a trip to the nearby McNulty's Tea on Christopher Street, which also is very accommodating of reusable containers). We've since moved but I miss Integral Yoga!

Anna Anna
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Re: Bulk Shopping in NYC

Thank you for the tip! I have been going here for most of my bulk goods. You're right. They have an amazing selection and are so nice!
Olivia Olivia
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Re: Bulk Shopping in NYC

In reply to this post by Anna
Hello,

  Can someone explain specifically how to get bulk food using bags and glass jars? How do they charge you? How do you know it is the right amount? I also live in NYC and am figuring all of this out. I have not yet had a bulk shopping experience. I live in Inwood and commute near the Whole Foods on the Upper West Side... Any specifics would be appreciated.
Anna Anna
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Re: Bulk Shopping in NYC

The way that you bulk shop varies depending upon the store you go to.

Integral Yoga has been the easiest one for me so far:
Go in and give the people at the cash register your empty jar. They take the tare weight for you. Put the items you want into your jar or bag. Check out. They subtract the tare weight at check out and give you a bit of tare weight back for each cloth bag (many of mine have a tare weight on them, but some of them are homemade so they help me with those).

Whole Foods is a bit more difficult. Talk to customer service first.

Farmers markets are super easy as well. Just ask them to use a jar or your bag.

I have a FaceBook group called Plastic-Free NYC that you can join if you want -- we share tips and information for zero waste shopping there.