The Bulk is Green Council (BIG), a Portland, Ore.-based nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing consumer, retailer and grocer awareness of the environmental and economical benefits of buying foods from bulk bins, is again partnering with retailers across the country to celebrate National Bulk Foods Week. Now in its third year, the celebration will take place Oct. 13-19 at grocery stores and co-ops across the country.

A recent press release from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated that roughly 30 to 40% of the food supply in the U.S. goes to waste. Further, the EPA reports more food goes into landfills nationwide than any other single material in municipal solid waste, and in 2010 alone, Americans generated more than 34 million tons of food waste.

However, according to a recent study conducted by the Portland State University Food Industry Leadership Center (FILC), the main reason consumers shop the bulk foods aisle is for the ability to buy exact quantities. As a result, consumers said bulk items were less likely than packaged items to be thrown away, which results in less food waste.

An infographic from BIG shows how bulk foods help address the issue of food waste in America and also highlights the numerous benefits of shopping the bulk foods aisle.

With more than 1,000 retailers participating in National Bulk Foods Week this year, the annual celebration is one way BIG encourages more consumers to be conscious of the waste they produce. During the event, the companies that comprise BIG offer special discounts on select natural and organic bulk foods to retailers that can then be passed along to consumers. Shoppers can find the update-to-date list of participating retailers at