When it is impossible to make your purchases in bulk, how do you make the right packaging choices?

Posted by Laurie Barrette on

 Our consumption habits have changed a bit since our respective moves to the suburbs and the countryside. When we lived in the downtown core of a more urban city, we would drop by our neighborhood zero-waste grocery store for bulk purchases regularly and with our containers. This type of outing is less frequent now as we must take the car and travel several kilometers to make the detour to the nearest zero-waste grocery store (we still love to do this when possible, and we plan for it). We are, therefore, careful to make the best choices for the packaged products that we do buy at the grocery store.

But how do you find your way among all the different types of packaging? Which of these is the most environmentally friendly?

GoGo Quinoa began a green shift some time ago to reduce its footprint, in addition to having set goals to reduce plastic consumption by 70% and this, by the end of 2021. We were able to have an enlightening discussion with them on the subject!


blogue gogo quinoa vrac


 In a business, much time and preparation is needed to undertake an ecological transition like this. We know from experience, the cost of raw materials, the difficulties of supplying them, freshness preservation of the product, package durability during transportation, and during exposure to different temperatures (difficult since we are in Quebec and our winters are particularly cold). The cost of equipment and the currently available offer are major issues. These are several of the challenges that need to be addressed to provide better options, so, this kind of transition does not happen overnight. Starting with what is easily avoidable or replaceable, it is more realistic to make a transition following what GoGo Quinoa has done with its line of pasta and cookies.

Here are a few tips:


Disposable packaging

 Simply to be avoided! Disposable packaging is not recyclable or compostable, and their life ends in the landfill, emitting greenhouse gases. Of course, it is sometimes unavoidable, and they do sometimes end up in our grocery cart. But we try to avoid this as much as possible by buying larger formats rather than individual ones.


Recyclable packaging

 It has been known for years that although recycling is great, it will not save the planet. There is only approximately 52%* of materials put into the bin that is recycled. For recyclable materials such as metal, plastic, and cardboard, and to be truly recycled, a company must be interested in buying this recycled material to convert it into raw material, and this where it gets complicated but, some materials are more recyclable than others.

Favor cardboard and metal over plastic and glass. The percentage for reuse is higher, even better if the packaging is made from recycled fibers like some cardboard boxes.

Check the numbers on your plastic packaging, these figures correspond to the type of plastic used, some sorting centers do not accept certain numbers (for example, in Quebec, plastic #7 is not accepted). If in doubt, refer to Recyc-Quebec**.


blogue gogo quinoa


Compostable packaging

 Such a wonderful invention when they are truly compostable! We must differentiate between the terms ‘’biodegradable’’ and ‘’compostable’’. Biodegradable simply means ‘’that decomposes’’, but the decomposition time can vary (for example, plastic is biodegradable in 4000 years). The term compostable means ‘’which disintegrates in an industrial or domestic site into compost used to enrich the soil’’. Compostable products are therefore biodegradable, but the reverse is not always true.

Several companies have released compostable plastic packaging, but unfortunately, these are not always accepted in composting facilities*** and end their life in the landfill. Watch out for green marketing!

Back to GoGo Quinoa. They have told us that, for their part, they have chosen compostable packaging made from FSC-certified wood cellulose for its cookies. These are accepted everywhere and can even be composted in your own home compost. This is a big advantage compared to bioplastic, which can only be composted in an industrial facility that often takes too long to decompose, which means it must be sent to the landfill.


Consignment packaging

 This principle is simple and efficient. We pay the deposit that corresponds to the price of the container when we buy the product, and we get our money back when we return the container/consigned item to the store. The container is then washed, disinfected, and reused. More and more grocery stores are offering this option for certain foods or ready-to-eat meals.

Of course, the best option is not to create any waste. For this reason alone, bulk always remains at the top of the list. But as a consumer, if we want to see more ecological options for the packaging offer, it is important to encourage companies that have made the effort to make this green shift to provide these options. Remember that the main goal of all companies is to please the  consumers!


Psst: Some GoGo Quinoa products are also available in bulk :)


blogue Gogo Quinoa 



** https://www.recyc-quebec.gouv.qc.ca/citoyens/mieux-recuperer/quest-ce-qui-va-dans-le-bac

*** https://www.ledevoir.com/societe/science/534251/les-sacs-compostables-sont-ils-nuisibles

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Eco-friendly tips


  • Merci à vous pour ce billet : je me retrouvais dans la même situation que vous (et je suis certaine que plusieurs le sont aussi, les épiceries en vrac sont loin d’être installées partout), mais avec ces petites astuces, je pourrai au moins faire de meilleurs choix a l’épicerie :). D’ailleurs, merci pour votre approche décomplexée, déculpabilisante : ça fait du bien et ça nous fait réaliser que les changements qu’on peut faire ne sont pas toujours aussi compliqués qu’on le croit.

    Jennifer on

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