How Eco-Cool is Costco?

I’ve been shopping at Costo for a while now. I like the larger quantities (less trips to the store) and low prices. I’ve read they have good policies, benefits, and low turnover rates for employees. And they have more and more organic and environmental products every time I go there. On 4/25/13, I drove there in my veggie-oil powered car, and as I shopped I thought, why not take a few pictures and share the info with others who are making an effort to shop with eco-consciousness in mind….

Costco Vermont

This is my local Costco. It’s the only one in the state of Vermont. It’s not the biggest by any means. No gas pumps like some of the bigger ones have.

The first thing I noticed was a HUGE new display of LED lights.


This was great to see. LEDs are even more efficient than compact fluorescents (CFLs), they last longer, and thy have no mercury. We’ve been waiting for LEDs to hit the market and it appears the time has come!


I found almost a whole aisle of LED lights, including flood lights, regular bulbs, and others. Note the bulbs are in a display where you can see how bright they are and the quality of the light.


There was even an instant rebate, making most of the bulbs cost only about $5.  I’d say this alone is a reason to head over there and try out their new LED lights. Thumbs up!

I put a few in my cart and moved along. Next up I came to a real downer. A huge pile of cases of bottled water.


I saw a bunch of people grabbing a case or two and putting in in their cart. What’s up with that? Haven’t people figured out yet, most bottled water is the same thing that comes out of your tap for free, but you have to pay for it and you end up with a bunch of plastic no one wants? Not to mention your water tastes like plastic. Thumbs down on this one!

Next I made my way to the food section. Surprisingly I came across a stack of cases of unfiltered Switchback beer, made here in Vermont. Nearly everyone I know seems to love this beer. It’s good to see local products in a chain store. Thumbs up!


Sometimes when I’m out shopping for my family, I think about the hunters and gatherers from thousands of years ago and I pretend I’m one of them. My family is home safe in their “cave” and I’m out gathering, risking my life just like the cavemen did. The only difference is they were pulling berries off bushes and throwing spears at wild beasts, while I’m pulling products off shelves… Pretty much the same thing, eh?

Anyway next I came to something interesting. Not sure what these “Hemp Hearts” are. But anything made from hemp is good in my book. It has so many uses, from paper to fuel to medicine to food. It’s good to see more hemp products on the market. These are “raw shelled hemp seeds” according to the package. I was tempted but decided to let others be the guinea pigs. Maybe next time. Still they get a thumbs up.


Not in pictures, but in my cart and worth mentioning are:

  • Organic, free-range, certified humane eggs. Recycled cardboard would be better than plastic on the packaging, though.
  • Case of soymilk, organic, non-GMO, half the price of grocery stores!
  • Good organic free-trade coffee, costing less than Starbucks (non-organic)
  • Case of organic apples from Washington state… but too much plastic packaging.

Then I came to another surprise… an area rug made out of 100% recycled materials! They look strong and well-made. Now I didn’t need such a rug, but if I did, I’d buy one. This is great to see. I always wonder where all those plastic jugs go when the recycling company picks them up. Well here’s the answer. Big thumbs up for recycled products!


I made my way to cashier where I didn’t take a photo but I did experience one of the most environmentally cool things about shopping at Costco. NO BAGS! They don’t ask, “paper or plastic?” because they don’t have either one. They will put your stuff in boxes that are leftover from packaging, or just loosely back into your cart. I usually ask for a box for the little stuff. So many bags are used and wasted and disposed of every day in our country. Why can’t every store do this? Just go BAGLESS! Who needs them? Kudos to Costco for having not a bag in sight. THUMBS UP on that one! Here’s my cart as I wheeled back to my car. Not a bag to be seen.


Overall, I give Costco a thumbs up for Eco-Coolness. Some good and unique products on their shelves that show a commitment to the environment. But there are some issues to work on, like the bottled water and some of the product packaging has too much plastic.

I hope this post encourages people to shop with an Eco-Coolness mindset, at all stores. If there’s a Costco in your town, maybe you want to check it out. If you found a cool new product, let others know about it (comment below!). And don’t forget, you don’t have to wait for your store to go bagless. Even if you forgot your cloth shopping bags, just put the stuff back in your cart with no bag. Who needs bags anyway?


5 thoughts on “How Eco-Cool is Costco?

  1. Robin Brumbaugh

    Hey Gary, Very, very thumbs-up visit to your local Costco. Good stuff. I’ve gotta find out where our local Costco is. I wonder though; does Costco use LED lighting in their own store? Sure would be nice if we would make this the future.

  2. Jane Eberle-Brinson

    So…do you know how to get rid of all the plastic packaging that Costco packs their organic (and otherwise) products? I am super frustrated with this and cannot find anywhere locally that will take it. Thanks.

    1. admin Post author

      Hi Jane, not sure where you live but here in Vermont you can recycle that plastic packaging along with other household glass, plastic, and paper. we have all-in-one (no sorting) recycling and pretty much anything plastic with a number 1-7 on it can go in there.

  3. joe pham

    Responding to your Thumbs Down for Kirkland Bottled Water. For those who buy bottled water for everyday uses, yes Thumbs Down.

    But from an emergency preparedness viewpoint, buying a case (or cases) of bottled water, that has a shelf life of 2 years, and that only costs $4 a case, is a huge advantage. While others will be scrambling to find drinking water, my family during a disaster, won’t need to worry about our water needs, since we will be fully stocked.

    As for the plastic, we plan to recycle the plastic bottles.

    1. admin Post author

      Hello! I agree that having water on hand for emergency is a good idea. However you can get larger containers, like 1-gallon or even the 2.5 gallon containers that are much more efficient at storing water and use less plastic. Also you could buy a 5 gallon water container for camping, and fill it up with water. I’m just not a fan of the small individual containers.


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