I know, I know. Ball jars are getting a bit cliched. BUT there is no easier, cheaper solution to storing bulk goods in your pantry. You can find them at your local thrift shop or, worst case scenario, at Target. The large, gold topped, plain bottles I purchased at Target came with minimal packaging - only a paper insert. Not zero waste, but getting there.
Another option is French canning jars and I must admit these are way classier...but, $1.99 vs. $12.00 made it an easy decision for me. I was able to order screw top gold lids on Amazon for about $12. Using the screw-top, single piece lids for non-canning purposes makes the jars a bit friendlier.
I have been using the mesh bags I purchased on Amazon to purchase bulk items with. Flip and Tumble is a Berkeley based company and I have contacted them and asked about their ethical standards of treatment for the people making them. *fingers crossed* They have been useful for everything from salt to coffee. You can actually make your own bags, with a few stitches, if you have a few pillow cases lying around. I'm waiting for a rainy day to make those happen. Bea, of Zero Waste Home, has plenty to say on the matter.
I know it's Thanksgiving-time and I hope each and every one of you stop, and say thanks, for the absolutely amazing life we are allowed to live.
It sounds like they might actually treat their workers ethically:
Thanks for getting in touch and for your interest in how we ensure our products are made ethically.
We make sure that the bags are made ethically in China. As a baseline, our factory has the quality management certificate of ISO9000 and the Environmental management certificate of ISO14000. In addition, we have a 3rd party company go in and check our own list of stringent requirements, ranging from Quality Management Systems, Code of Conduct (labor and compensation), Environmental Management Systems, and Security Compliance. We also visit the factory ourselves to see things first hand.
If you have any further questions please let me know.
Take care and Happy Holidays!
flip & tumble