Conscious by Chloé

Chloé Lepeltier - Conscious By Chloé

Follow Chloé’s journey to a simpler, greener and happier life.

Shopping in bulk 101

Shopping in bulk 101 by Conscious by Chloé

Shopping in bulk for the very first time can be intimidating. This is the reason why I reached out to my local co-op to host "Bulk Shopping for Beginners" workshops. But I thought I could take advantage of this experience to share it with you here on the blog.

By now, faithful readers, you should know what to put in your shopping bag before leaving for the grocery shop, but let's repeat it here for the newcomers.

What to bring:

  • a tote bag

  • mason jars (for dry goods or even shampoo & body lotions)

  • glass bottles (for oils, kombucha)

  • bulk bags (for dry goods, vegetables)

  • a crayon or Sharpie to write the tare and PLU on your containers

[Most of these items can usually also be purchased at the co-op.]

  • your shopping list

  • your wallet/cash/card

Shopping in bulk 101 by Conscious by Chloé

How to buy bulk food

Shopping in bulk 101 by Conscious by Chloé

1. Identify a place to shop
Ask around, reach out to a zero waste blogger in your area or be patient and wait for the launch of Bea Johnson's app. I live in NE Portland and shop at the Alberta Cooperative Grocery, so this article is based on my experience and the products that are available there.

Shopping in bulk 101 by Conscious by Chloé

2. Write your shopping list
Shopping in bulk makes things so easy. All you have to do is open your cupboards, your fridge or your pantry and identify which containers are empty.

Shopping in bulk 101 by Conscious by Chloé

3. Get your shopping kit, put the empty jars in it, and head to your favorite shop

Shopping in bulk 101 by Conscious by Chloé

4. Weight your containers
Put them while still empty on the scale. You shouldn't have to touch any button, unless the screen shows a negative number before you put your containers on the scale, which means you should just press the "clear entry" or reset button.

Shopping in bulk 101 by Conscious by Chloé

5. Write the tare and the PLU (item number) on the containers
I usually write them like this:
T = xxx
# = xxxx or PLU = xxx
Some people prefer to keep a list of tares and PLU on their phone and tell them at the attendant during check-out. Chose what you feel suits you best. There's (usually) no rule.

Shopping in bulk 101 by Conscious by Chloé

6. Fill your containers with dry goods

Shopping in bulk 101 by Conscious by Chloé

7. Use your cloth bags for loose fruit and vegetables

Shopping in bulk 101 by Conscious by Chloé

8. Fill your bottles with oil, maple syrup, etc.

Shopping in bulk 101 by Conscious by Chloé

9. Fill more containers with cosmetics

Shopping in bulk 101 by Conscious by Chloé

10. Cut your own soap
Then put it in a muslin bag and don't forget to write the PLU on it (or enter it in your phone and tell it to the attendant during check-out).

Shopping in bulk 101 by Conscious by Chloé

11. Bring your own egg cartons or use the ones provided by the coop
I now skip this part, since my hens started laying this spring!

Shopping in bulk 101 by Conscious by Chloé

12. Fill more bottles at the kombucha tap
This coop is pretty rad, but I'm sure you can fill your bottles at your local café. Also, bring a growler to your favorite brewery!

Shopping in bulk 101 by Conscious by Chloé

13. Check out!
If you haven't written the item numbers on the muslin bags, don't forget to tell them to the attendant. Same thing for the tare of the bags.

Shopping in bulk 101 by Conscious by Chloé

14. Put the jars, the rest of your items and your shopping kit back to where they belong.
There's no need to unpack items, transfer them into airtight containers, throw the packages in the trash. Shopping in bulk makes life so much easier!

This seems like a lot of work. And it is! But you don't have to do it all at once. Start with only a couple containers, shop with a friend, look for workshops at your local coop. Once you've done it once, you'll realize it's not that hard and will probably (I hope) want to go once step further. Watch out, it's addictive!


Have you ever shopped in bulk? How did it go? Where do you shop? Who do you shop with? I want to know everything! Pictures by Octave Zangs for Conscious by Chloé.

A Simple Almond Milk Recipe with a Twist

Almond milk recipe by Conscious by Chloé

I can still hear my friend Elisa saying this, one night, when a couple friends and I were having dinner at her place: "Humans are the only mammals who still drink milk once they've reached adulthood". That was close to ten years ago! I remember scoffing. To me, milk was essential. In the morning with cocoa powder. After lunch in the form of a yogurt or cheese. Same thing at dinner. I truly believed in what they used to say on French TV: "Dairy products are our friends for life" (and we should consume them three times a day).

Years later, I gradually stopped drinking milk, mainly because Octave is intolerant. And I started doing a little bit of research, to consider whether I should still buy some for me, or if I could live without it. Long story short, I do not believe that milk is good for my health, my bones, etc (I might even be starting to think the opposite, but I do not want to start a debate, or do I?). I still eat dairy products, fermented ones, like cheese, yogurt (I found a producer who uses reusable containers, but really contemplate on making my own), but I replaced my morning milk by almond milk (served with muesli, cocoa powder or blended in a delicious smoothie).

I love making my own milk, I love baking cookies with the almond meal that I am left with after straining, I love knowing where my products come from (the almonds we buy are local and organic, our house has a filtered water faucet). Now I know almond production is not the most environment-friendly (California/drought), so if you have an informed opinion on this matter, please share it.

Almond milk recipe by Conscious by Chloé

In the meantime, here's the simplest almond milk recipe:


ALMOND MILK

Almond milk is a great alternative to cow's milk and it's so easy to make, you won't regret hauling these milk bottles back from the store.

Yield: 5 cups
Active time: 5 min
Total time:

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of almonds
  • 5 cups of filtered water
  • (optional) 1/8 teaspoon himalayan salt
  • (optional) Vanilla or 1 date

Instructions

  1. Soak the almonds in water overnight, at least 12 hours (I sometimes skip this part if I'm in a hurry but it is highly recommended.)
  2. Rinse the almonds.
  3. Put the 1 cup of almonds and 5 cups of water in a blender and blend for 1 minute.
  4. Strain the mixture into a large bowl or pitcher through a cheese cloth.
  5. (optional) Put the mixture back into the blender with vanilla, dates, or any other sweetener and add 1/8 ts salt.
  6. Store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to one week.

Notes

This recipe works with all kinds of nuts. Try them all!


Please share your own favorite recipes in the comment section, or on social media with the #consciousby hashtag. I'd love to try them! Pictures by Octave Zangs for Conscious by Chloé.

The Ultimate Zero Waste Shopping Kit

The ultimate Zero Waste shopping kit with Mason jars by Conscious by Chloé

Ever since I moved to my new hometown, I've taken up zero waste shopping. After extended research, I chose one place to shop, but gradually found alternatives: a new farmers market in my neighborhood, and a cooperative.

But anyways, no matter where I chose to shop, my shopping kit basically stays the same.

So, after weeks of trial, I am proud to introduce my Ultimate Zero Waste Shopping Kit:

  1. Reusable totes
    I use one that was given to me at an event. It is super convenient as it has a small pocket inside where I can put my crayon, phone, card holder and keys. But I love this market bag that my rad forager friend Kristin hand dyes. From experience, I usually need two bags anyways since the jars can be pretty heavy and I don't want to smash my fruits and vegetables in one single bag. So I have a good excuse to get it!
  2. Water-soluble wax crayon (or felt-tip pen)
    The felt-tip pen is not conscious, I know, but I still have a bunch of these in stock from the coworking space I used to run in California. I use them to write the tare and reference code on the jars and bags. I usually write the tare at home on top of the containers, and then add the code while shopping, and since I use the same containers each time and usually buy the same products, this process tends to only be a one-time thing.
  3. Produce bags
    I seem to never have enough of these, and since I am about to start a cleanse including 99% fruits and vegetables (I totally made up that number), I definitely need to get more!
  4. Mason jars (for nuts, cocoa powder, honey)
    I ordered a couple of wide-mouth ones.
  5. Big canning jars (for almonds, granola, flour, meat, fish, coffee)
    I got a few of these at a famous Scandinavian franchise, but similar ones can be found online.
  6. Glass swing top bottles (for vinegar, shampoo, wine)
    Same thing.
  7. Growler (for beer)
    I refill my growler at a brewery which is within walking distance from my house.

UPDATE: All these items and many more are now available in my shop.

The ultimate Zero Waste shopping kit with Mason jars by Conscious by Chloé

In other words, before leaving the house, I put in my shopping bag any empty jar or container (spice jar, oil cruet with a sprout and cap) from my pantry which is labelled with its original content. This makes the shopping list writing and the unpacking so much easier!

The ultimate Zero Waste shopping kit with Mason jars by Conscious by Chloé

I've only had positive reactions from the shopping attendants. They love my way of shopping, are super helpful with the taring process, make nice comments about some of my unusual containers (I brought some super cute one from a trip to Morocco) and are thankful to be spared from bagging my shopping (I just put everything back into my tote).

The ultimate Zero Waste shopping kit with Mason jars by Conscious by Chloé

Also, whenever I leave the house, I tend to have in my car, a bag containing a mason jar & stainless steel straws (for a juice or bubble tea stop), produce bags (for fruit or croissants) and a big empty canning jar (for restaurant leftovers) in order to always be ready and avoid waste.


What about you, did you try zero waste shopping? I know it sounds scary, but I did it! I'd love to hear how it went. Feel free to share your experience with me or ask any question about zero waste shopping in the comment section, or on social media with the #consciousby hashtag!