Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Whole Foods Market Does Away With Plastic Bags

Whole Foods Market is joining the anti-plastic bag movement, announcing today it will end the use of disposable plastic grocery bags at all of its 270 stores in the U.S., Canada & the U.K. It says the goal is to be plastic bag-free by Earth Day, 4/22/08.

The first U.S. supermarket to commit to completely eliminating disposable plastic grocery bags, Whole Foods Market has declared today "Bring Your Own Bag Day" and will give out over 50,000 reusable shopping bags to customers at the checkouts to celebrate the announcement.

The company says beginning immediately, each store will work on depleting stocks of disposable plastic grocery bags at the checkouts and will help raise awareness about the benefits of reusable bags. Over the next three months, stores will reduce plastic grocery bag inventories and increase selections of reusable bags for purchase.

Although the natural and organic grocer says it hopes to inspire shoppers to bring their own reusable bags, the it will continue to offer 100% recycled paper grocery bags. Last year, Whole Foods Market became the first and only food retailer in North America to offer grocery bags made with 100% recycled fiber content.

A.C. Gallo, co-president and chief operating officer for Whole Foods Market, said "More and more cities and countries are beginning to place serious restrictions on single-use plastic shopping bags since they don't break down in our landfills, can harm nature by clogging waterways and endangering wildlife, and litter our roadsides. Together with our shoppers, our gift to the planet this Earth Day will be reducing our environmental impact as we estimate we will keep 100 million new plastic grocery bags out of our environment between Earth Day and the end of this year alone."

Whole Foods Market already encourages shoppers to bring their own bags by offering a refund of either five or ten cents at the checkouts. The company also sells different types of reusable bags, ranging from canvas to a new large bag made from 80% recycled plastic and costing only 99 cents.

Recently, Whole Foods Market stores began using all-natural fiber packaging at its salad and food bars. The fibers for the new containers come from plants that are cultivated or grow wild and are harvested annually. Additionally, the company says it continues to seek alternatives to plastic bags in its bulk, produce, bakery and seafood departments.

"We realize there are many more steps to take, and we recognize it's an ongoing process to provide as much Earth-friendly packaging as possible," said Gallo. "We will continue to evaluate each department within our stores as we seek to continually improve."

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