When I was doing my first month-long challenge in March, my Costco membership was up for renewal and I was debating whether I should renew. There is a huge difference between shopping bulk from the dry goods bulk bins and buying in bulk at Costco.
Ultimately, I decided to keep my membership for now but just be more cautious about how I shop there.
One of the main things I buy there is liquid staples – Cooking oil, vinegar, maple syrup, laundry detergent. Unlike dry goods, liquid bulk sections that allow you to bring and reuse containers are pretty rare. Buying these things in larger, recyclable containers reduces the packaging materials a little bit so I think it’s the next best option, provided that you will use up whatever it is before it goes bad.
Similarly, if you’re not able to easily buy rice, nuts, flour, and other dry goods staples from bulk bins in your own reusable containers, getting them in larger packaging is a little more environmentally friendly (again, provided you will actually use it all).
However, a lot of things at Costco potentially add extra packaging than buying a single container at the grocery store. These are things that come in boxes or flats of normal-sized packages.
If you’re trying to reduce your packaging consumption, it’s best to avoid the products packaged this way. On the other hand, we all have to do the best we can. Buying this way saves money and time, so sometimes you have to weigh those options and do what’s best for you.