Thursday, October 1, 2009

Buying in Bulk - Go Green & Still Save Money

Last spring I embarked on an experiment. I had decided that I wanted to shift the everyday household items we used over to organic products. Every year I go a little further to the greener side of commerce and it was time to make the switch for things we used daily like detergents, deodorant, bath soap, etc. The catch was that I couldn't spend more money on these items; in reality I needed to cut expenses. I was concerned about being able to afford the switch to organic products, as I'd found them to be more expensive than traditional ones at local chain stores. So the trick was to go greener and somehow save money at the same time.

I thought about the fact that these items would have to ship to me so I grouped the purchases together in two different orders, as I could afford it. It would save me multiple trips to the grocery store which seemed to offset the shipping given that it's 2 shipments versus probably a dozen or more grocery stops. The UPS man goes down my street every day so no extra trip on his part either. I used my local Whole Foods store as a benchmark for individual prices and found a few of the same items at Target for comparison. But they didn't offer products in bulk or carry Country Save or Canus. I considered signing up with Frontier Coop but they didn't carry these products either.

I took my search online. I spent several hours researching to find the best selection, lowest prices and reduced or free shipping. I was being very conscious about what company I bought my products from. I wanted to be sure I was making good choices and supporting companies that cared about producing good quality organic products from sustainable sources. I knew that buying in bulk would reduce the unit price but I wasn't sure if that really applied to organic products, since I'd never seen organic products available in bulk before.

Enter They had the best prices and Free – thank you very much – Shipping. I spent more up front because I was buying in quantity, but as you'll see from the breakdowns below it's been a total win-win experience for me so far:

Country Save HE Laundry Detergent Powder
80 standard loads, 160 high efficiency loads per box
Case of four 10 lb boxes for $62.15 ($15.54 per box)
I have a heavy-duty top load washing machine and wash for a family of four. I bought this case on March 17th and I'm only half way through the second box. That means each box is lasting about 4 months so this should be enough laundry powder to get me to July of next year, conceivably. Dare I say this was the first time I'd used Country Save laundry detergent and went on recommendation alone. I know, risky move to buy something I'd never tried before in bulk, right? I absolutely LOVE this detergent. My daughter, who struggles with allergies, does fine with this. It cleans wonderfully. It doesn't have a heavily perfumed odor, the clothes just smell fresh and clean. One thing I really like about this is that it's the best detergent I've found to keep clothes feeling soft when line dried outside. It's safe to say I am officially hooked on Country Save!

Seventh Generation Dishwashing Powder
Free & Clear, 75 oz box, Case of 8 boxes for $49.77 ($6.22 per box)
We bought a new energy efficient dishwasher last year. We cook, bake, eat and dirty plenty of dishes daily. Our dishwasher sees action at least once every two days. I bought these on January 31st and seriously I am only about halfway through the 2nd box. I am impressed! I'd used this detergent before and found it was the only one that didn't spot or streak dishes and glassware. It's a wonderful product. I'm averaging about 4 1/2 months per box which amazes me. That means I have enough of this on-hand to last me until January 2011!?

Seventh Generation Dish Liquid
Lemongrass & Clementine Zest (also available in Free & Clear and Lavender Floral-Mint)
25 oz Bottle, Case of 6 Bottles for $18.13 ($3.02 per bottle)
Okay, for those of you that don't know me in-person, doing dishes is not my favorite. I used to hate doing dishes. Now, in a strange way, I find it a little therapeutic; is that wrong? I actually credit this dish soap with the transformation. {Mom, if you're reading this, I'm sure you'll agree it must be a miracle product if it helped *ME* to actually enjoy doing dishes.} It smells so wonderful and for the first time ever I've found a soap that doesn't cause my hands to break out in a rash from doing the dishes. I love it so much I refill our foam pump dispensers in both bathrooms with it and bathe our pets with it. I bought this on March 17th and I am about to finish the 2nd bottle. At this rate I'll have enough to last me until this time next year. Oh Joy! (oops sorry, wrong brand)

Canus Goats Milk Bar Soap

Four 3-count boxes, case of 12 bars for $20.32 ($1.69 per bar)
I've posted about this soap before. I am so grateful for this product, you can read about why here. I have 4 bars left and 2 newly opened ones in use so my best guess is that I won't need to buy more bath soap until April of next year. I think this would have lasted longer but my son was going through a phase of drilling his finger all the way through a bar of soap just to see if he could. We've since curbed that behavior.

So you see, it can be done. I'm a very thrifty girl and unfortunately more economically-challenged than I would like to be. If I can afford organic products, anyone can. I know this isn't rocket science. I just want to encourage you, you can buy healthier products for yourself and your family without spending more money. You just have to do your homework, be thoughtful about the products and companies you're supporting and order from the best resources you can find.


  1. I am SERIOUSLY impressed at your initiative, Leslie. Thanks for doing all this leg work for me :)

  2. I figured someone else might benefit from this and be inspired to make the switch. I am always looking for ways to creatively improve processes, to do things better and smarter. Thanks for your comment Heather!

  3. This is great Leslie! So often we wonder about new green detergents...and have never heard of them & don't know if they will work or not - thanks for your imput! We love the idea of streak free for the dishwasher!
    Funny reading about your son & the daughter went through a stage this summer where she wanted to carve soap....and we went through so much...and seemed to have no more soap everytime it was my turn in the shower of course! :)

  4. Thanks so much for this great post Leslie! I use seventh generation products and love them. I definitely will look into the products you have reviewed. I have to try the Country Save laundry detergent. OK, I'm off to Amazon. :)


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