Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Slow Down and Green Up

Coinciding happily with Earth Day, this coming week is Downshifting Week. Downshifting is about slowing down the pace of your life, changing your attitude about stuff and, of course, being more green.

Consuming less is a main tenet of being green, as detailed in this article by Laura Sevier in the EcologistOnline. Some Downshifters encourage radical lifestyle changes, but even a modest reduction in your daily pace can enable you to reassess your life and purpose: where you’ve been, where you are, where you want to go and how you want to get there.

So slow down, smell those proverbial roses, then check out the links and let us know what you think about Downshifting. Maybe you’ve already Downshifted. If so, share your experience with the rest of us in the comment section in the lower right hand corner of this post.

Wishing everyone a happy and productive Earth Day.

Leave a reply

To provide feedback or ask a question about our company, a store or a product, please visit our Customer Service page.

For more information about posting comments to our blog, please see our Comment Posting Guidelines.

46 comments

Comments

Tracey Smith says …

Hi Jerry, What a lovely surprise to see this today! Thanks for helping to raise the profile of our little green awareness campaign - it's very much appreciated. Wishing you and your readers all the best too, TS x

Douglas Spittel says …

Downshifting causes a gradual slowing that over time and distance has a substantial effect. In 2008, our family of six has gone from two to one vehicle. This has been good for the environment by using less resources and creating less waste. It is good for our health by forcing us to walk for trips under a mile and a half. It's amazing how much of your neighborhood you miss when you drive past it every day. Foregoing that extra car is also good for our household economy. You'd be amazed at how much it really costs to run a car! What about when we really need that extra car? We have a Zipcar membership that comes in handy in those crunch times. The change was, of course, noticed immediately, but the benefits have taken time to surface. But as time goes on and we are farther away from two-car dependency, we are noticing many improvements in our lives. We're glad we did it and the downsizing of our transportation fleet is creating a paradigm for other downshifting in our family's life.

M. Fulner says …

One of the most fun ways we have found to reuse/recycle and save money at the same time is purchasing almost all our clothes at thrift stores. It began for us when we were going through a rough financial period. After we realized how great the options are, we were glad that we were not only saving a fortune, but we were greatly reducing the resources that are consumed just in clothing ourselves. We also found we could dress in our favorite brands and even some we hadn't been able to afford before. I even find organic cotton and hemp items there. That's not all, many thrift stores are operated by nonprofits that use the funds to help people. A tip for your donations- Be careful that the clothes you donate are actually going to a charitible organization. Many receptacles on the street are designed to look like familiar charities, but if there is no charity name on the box, your donation is most assuredly going to a business that is selling these items for profit. You can be sure that your items are doing good in the world by dropping them off at the charities yourself or by calling those that pick up right from your home.

Teddi says …

It's interesting that "going green" is becoming such a trend, but it's a great trend! I applaud WFM for taking it steps further and offering sustainable business resources, compost, etc. I'm in north Tarrant County so I don't get to WFM often...ready to take a trip this weekend to check out the new initiatives...and get some of those bright colored reusable bags! Keep up the great work! Happy Earth Day, April 22!

Cherstin Daugherty says …

Being part of a not-so-green office, I decided to take up the rather fun title here in the office as "Green Girl". I started a company recycling program with bins in the break room to sort paper, cans, plastic, etc. & each Friday I take it all out to the recycling bins. We are also doing a bit of spring cleaning around here and noticed we were piling up lightly used office supplies to toss in the dumpster. I quickly posted these reusable items on www.freecycle.org & each and every item was picked up and reused by local schools and half way homes for teens. I used to hop in my car & leave work everyday for lunch. Now I keep healthy items in the break room refrigerator and take my lunch outside each day. This eliminates driving and allows me some fresh air. I also eat much healthier and spend less $$$! Aside for the office title of "Green Girl" I have also tried to be more conscience of the environment while outside of work as well. I walk to do my errands & I now ride my bike to the grocery store with my reusable bags dangling on each handle bar =) It may not seem like much but if each person downshifted a little each day think of it's affect on the whole earth. Each little bit helps!

Sunny Humphries says …

One easy way I've learned to cut back on emissions and gas use (and tickets!) is to downshift -- literally. Cut your speed back to the speed limit (which is, after all, supposed to be the maximum, not the minimum speed!). Driving friendly--not racing around slower vehicles or sudden braking and accelerating, saves more than nerves. It's greener, safer, and more civil!

Tracey Smith says …

You are right there - the Zipcar movement is great and comes in very handy when I'm in London! That said, the whole car share thing has great energy behind it too - we have 10 million empty car seat on the road in the UK every day - I try hard to encourage people to actively bring that number down. It can be done, we just need a stronger and more positive emphasis on the importance of making that change. TS

Tremaine Amy Frank says …

To downshift we have taken to raising a couple of fiber animals. One is an angora goat and the other a sheep. We hand process the fiber ourselves and hand card it and hand spin it, and hand knit it. So we only get sweaters from the wool they give us. This means having less clothing but they are done in classic styles, they are made well and last a long time, there is an appreciation of the animal that helps us, and because the family spends so much time from start to finish to get the sweater I find my family takes real good care of the sweaters. Knowing it will be another year before they can get another one.

Kate Pollara says …

Sometimes when I want to do something better, instead of pulling out an electrical appliance, I think back to how my mother would have done it. I am amazed at how over-plugged in we are. Mom didn't pull out the vacuum every time a crumb landed on the floor. I often pull out the a broom/whisk broom and pan to clean up my hard wood floors. Not only does it not consume any electricity, but it is often faster and better. This may not be profound, but all those kilowatts add up. In fact, there is a church in the neighborhood where I work in NY City that vacuums the sidewalks periodically!!! What ever happened to old-fashioned elbow grease?

Keriann says …

My husband and I recently switched to BioBags for our dog's waste. We just couldn't stand the idea of throwing away a non-biodegradable plastic bag just to collect her waste! We are also really big on using our own canvas bags for grocery shopping... even if the bagger gives me a dirty look, I don't care! Not going to use those plastic bags anymore!

Lee Correy says …

As an individual householder, I am constantly shocked at the amount of paper products that I recycle. When I compare my modest attempt to reduce waste, I shudder to think what I once casually disgarded. I have also been concentrating on using my own bags for food shopping and beyond. That move has also been rewarding. Keep up the great work everyone!

Darby Lohrding says …

For a while now I have been working on "downshifting", by listening more, speaking less and moving slower. So often life is run on automatic and when on automatic I act without thinking and end up acquiring that which is not recyclable, healthy or productive (especially so if I have to make a repeat trip to return). I found by practicing "downshifting" I am less stressed and sleep soundly ...who would have thought! DL

Kelly Beltramo says …

At work we will be hosting a potluck on Earth Day. Everyone that brings in their own utencils and plates for eating with will receive a re-usable canvas bag. We hope this event and gift will inspire folks to be more conscious of the environment and to forgo those horrible plastic bags. It's not too late. Plan your own Earth Day event today and get others inspired to become more friendly to our environment. EVERYDAY IS EARTH DAY!

Crystalbella says …

Downshifting Rocks! when I go grocery shopping,I always take my Whole Foods Market reuseable bags no matter what store i'm in.I think that it's taking other stores to long to catch on so i'll just help them out,and it's great advertisement to.

philip schuyler says …

Now, two WFM's within golf range, but soon a 3rd within spittin' range on Blythedale in Mill Valley. But, sad face here, no notice of opening date, no interior renovating activity, no info from good folks at WFM on Miller in MV. What say you? Believe in your focus and superb hiring, and freebie cheese bites, but where oh where WFM are non-alcoholic beers?

Biggs says …

I'm very impressed. However, I have a very simple suggestion: just teach your employees to pack 10 items in 1 bag instead of 2. Also, anything that has a handle, e.g. milk gallons does not need to put in a bag! Every time I go shopping, I try to bag my items myself. I also have no problem rebagging my items and give some of the bags back to the cashier.

Suzanne says …

To see how well your family can slow down and green up, play the game "power outage". This game was created by my three children after a power outage left us in the dark for almost 24 hours. The way you play the game is to shut off and unplug all appliances. Challenge each other to make up different games and activities that can be done in the dark and with no electricity! This is an absolute blast, the children were so creative and learned so much about what most people take for granted. My eight year old son especially loves the game and requests that we play at least once a month!! Try it at home and see how many ideas your family can come up with!

Candace Brown says …

I recently had a phone conversation with a dear friend about the situation of the planet. I think if we all did one thing a day for the better of the earth we would make a difference. Change the light bulbs to low wattage bulbs, don't use a plastic bag, don't ask for a receipt, don't drive one day a week, don't buy items unless they are in a recyclable container, there's so much we could do, seems so small but there are so many of us that it would add up quickly.

Anne says …

Aside from the canvas bag, the wax paper bag supplies and the great organic selection, thanks to WFM I never use plastic water bottles anymore, only my SIGG. Great display of SIGG aluminum bottles, even my 5 yr old has one. It takes more time to think ahead, but well worth less plastic on this earth. Going green may take more of our energy, but it will save Earth's in the long run. Keep up the great leadership WFM.

Candace Brown says …

We should all strive to do one thing a day for the earth-don't request a receipt, don't buy unless the container is recyclable, switch to energy-saving bulbs, one day a week try not to drive. We can make a difference.

Germaine says …

Hooray for Green Girl! I, too, have been trying to get the office I am currently working in to think greener, but it is taking a while to catch on. I am trying to recycle as much as possible and to that end have found three addresses that I would like to share with the readers of this blog. The first is The Printer Ink Warehouse at http://www.ink-refills-ink.com/. This company not only sells very reasonably priced printer and toner ink cartridges, but also takes back any printer or toner cartridges, even brands it does not carry or cartridges not bought from it. It will send you prepaid shipping labels that you can affix to your box of cartridges and have the delivery service pick up, if you like. The second is The CD Recycling Center of America at http://www.cdrecyclingcenter.com/. This company will take CDs and DVDs for recycling. All you need do is package the items and send them to the company. A third is DuPont at http://envelopes.tyvek.com/en/science/versitile/vers_recycle.shtml. DuPont will take back Tyvek products. The Tyvek product I am trying to recycle in particular is the envelopes made of this material. My community recycling and the grocery store will not take them, but DuPont will. The shipping instructions are on the Web site. Number 5 plastics are also not wanted in most community recycling programs. However, Stonyfield Farm (10 Burton Drive,Londonderry, NH 03053) and Brown Cow (Brown Cow Farm Cup Recycling, 3810 Delta Fair Blvd., Antioch, CA 94509) take back their own yogurt containers and send you coupons for free products if you send these containers to them. The value of the coupons covers the majority of the cost of the postage. Hope this helps you make your year greener.

Cara says …

To downshift, our family had turned off our cable T.V. We try very hard to not turn on the TV at all. We watch rented DVDs or PBS when we do sit down for a bit of entertainment. It is interesting how little we miss cable. When it comes down to it---there wasn't much on to watch anyway.

Lori Ann Ryan says …

We have two family lop eared bunnies in our backyard in a pen. We injoy giving them some of the veggies they love instead of composting it all. The children injoy spending time petting and caring for them. As a family, we spend more time together at home because our backyard is our cottage, so we are spending less energy driving north for the weekends. Signed Backyard Cottagers.

Caroline says …

In a society where capitalism = consumerism, and the American Dream has become acquiring as many material goods as possible, it's time for a change! Instead of buying and acquiring being the ultimate status symbol, how about a focus on investing in social capital - volunteering, recycling, downsizing, being involved in your community. We lived in Seattle for years and the green movement was a way of life there. Glad to see it's finally catching on here, too!

Sophia says …

Going Green is something that I believe in wholeheartedly. I recycle everything and as a result, only take my hgarbage can to the street once a month. I am the office manager for a new dr's office, and thought we should 'Go Green' in the construction, set-up and daily running of the office. The dr agreed. Now, the build-out is using renewable or recycled materials, the computer system is COMPLETELY paperless and what little paper pts need for receipts, etc will be recycled. The coffee bar will use organically grown coffee and all the cups will be ceramic. We have found that while the budget may be slightly higher in the beginning, we will actually save quite a bit in the long run ... just as good habits are good for your personal health, going green is good for your Mother's (Earth's) health!

Tracey Smith says …

Wow - I am absolutely blown away by all the positive energy and the stack of simple, green ideas that are building up on this thread! I wholeheartedly agree - collective response is the key to global change and if I can do something to unite the individuals and help them believe that their small and simple changes WILL make a difference, because someone over there is also doing it, and someone over there, and there and so on.....well, you know we might just get there!! With kind regards, Tracey Smith Proud Creator of InterNational Downshifting Week!

Amy says …

The "green" lifestyle has become so trendy lately, it seems to have been taken over by the same old consumer-centric message we've been trying to break free from. We're encouraged to buy reusable bags, buy bamboo dishes, buy CFLs, buy a hybrid car, buy, buy buy! More new things are not the solution, even if they're better than the old versions they're replacing. The key to a really green lifestyle is in consuming less in the first place. I really like that this Downshifting movement seems to emphasize reduced consumption, rather than simply consuming greener products.

Vivienne says …

Our family is trying to green our life. We have eliminated a plastic bottles, and are trying to reduce our driving. We plant an organic garden every year and can what we don't eat. Our next two big steps are to buy a barrel composter and an outdoor umbrella clothesline. My question is can I find either of these in Southeastern Wisconsin or Northern Illinios? I am trying to avoid the carbon footprint of having them delivered. I will check the blog again in the next few days. Thanks. Vivienne

Sharon in Texas says …

I enjoy reading the newspapers. But they make a mess of paper. I now subscribe to the New York Times and Washington Post and sometimes check out others online. Saves piles of paper and it's free! I also stopped my junkmail at the suggestion of Environmental Defense. .

Kjersti - Minneapolis says …

I've enjoyed reading all the comments posted here. I too am downshifting - and it feels right. I'm living more now like I did when I was in grade school - much simplier. I moved closer to work so I could walk instead of drive, I use canvas bags instead of paper, wax paper instead of plastic wrap, carry lunch to work, bicycle on our nearby commuter trail to stores, buy as much organic as I can, use biodegradable bags for garbage, live in an apartment complex, installed wood floors from an environmentally responsible source, buy 90% of my clothes at reuse shops, use environmentally friendly cleaning products and so on. I've gone green more and more because I became aware that my health issues are tied to the environment. The changes I've made have kept me out of the doctor's office and (knock on wood) off med's completely. Moving from a 2400 sq. ft. townhouse to a 900 sq. ft. condo has been a challenging but great experience. When the gas prices go up, I get a "raise" at work. Happy Earth Day to everyone.

margarita castro says …

iam feel beter before using .organic producs .y bay the meet vestebles and may body care and al feel beter and help the earth health go green thas life

Deanna in Alabama says …

It is so encouraging to see all of the helpful suggestions and to know there are people all over the USA who take this issue seriously. We are a nation of over consumers; I believe people are starting to realize that having more does not equal happiness or better quality of life. Thank goodness people seem to be waking up! On a lighter note, my boys and I went into the Whole Foods Market yesterday; it is a bit of a trip for us, so we don't get to go as often as I'd like. Well, you would have thought I'd told them we were going to Disney Land! The people are so friendly and helpful and the products are amazing; it is a pure joy to shop there. That store has opened their eyes and encreased their awareness about living a healthy lifestyle. My kids have tried new foods because of the free samples and I have been able to incorporate these into our diet at home. Whole Foods makes the entire experience fun! Thanks guys!

Heidi says …

One of the easiest ways we went green was by using cloth diapers. We love the Dream-Eze diapers. They are just as easy as disposable and we get fewer leaks than our friends who are using the plastic disposable monsters. I love that my baby is in a healthier, greener, softer alternative. If you dry them outside then a lot less energy is used and the new high efficiency washers are great. So many options, so cute, I will never turn back!

Lauren says …

I buy Bi-O-Kleen dish soap in the five gallon container with a pump. I just refill my liquid soap dispensers in the kitchen and baths to save on money and resources. It is so mild that it keeps our hands from drying out and has a nice orange fragrance.

debra smith says …

Hi Jerry! And a early Happy Earth Day to you, too. I applaud Whole Foods for leading the pack in recyclable/reusable grocery bags. However, with t he advent of cloth bags, it seems people may be using more inside plastic bags for produce, meats etc. First, are the inside bags recyclable? Second, can't you stock 2 sizes? Oftentimes I see people with one item in a whole, huge bags. Are we only creating a different problem with eliminating throw-out plastic grocery bags?

Suzanne says …

I agree with Debra on this one. I stopped using the produce bags and find it only slightly annoying. The cashier has to be extra cautious not to drop the apples as they roll aroud on the belt. I'm sure it is not the most convientient thing, however, maybe this will urge cashiers to ask their employer to come up with a better solution. I know they do make washable produce bags, but I would need like twenty and that's not something I want to spend money on. One of these days I will remember to bring my empty bread and bagel bags for my produce! Suzanne DeRosa The Little Green Tambourine, LLC. www.thelittlegreentambourine.com

Sophia says …

To answer Suzanne's dilemma: whenever you purchase strawberries or tomatoes or other produce in plastic tubs with hinged tops, wash them carefully and the reuse them the next time you go. They are plastic, but you can reuse them quite a few times and then recycle them when they become too old. I also find that reusing paper sacks or mesh bags (like the ones you get with onions) work well too. You're really only trying to keep things together so the associate can tally them up. Another great reuse for the mesh bags citrus fruit comes in is to put all your beach toys in them. Then when you get home, take to garden hose to them and hang to drip dry. Voila! They are ready for the next outing.

DS says …

The approach to downshifting is to evaluate every aspect of your lifestyle, make realistic goals and implement change one or two at a time. We did the following within 1 year: *Buy Organic Foods on a regular basis *Use a solar oven on sunny days *Changed to reusable shopping bags *Use compact flourescent bulbs *Unplugged all appliances - plug in only during use *No more cable tv - watch a few shows on the Internet *Use a high efficiency washing machine *Use speed wash setting and cold water *Hang up laundry to dry *Use eco-friendly cleaning products *Cloth napkins instead of paper towels *Changed to Native Plant Landscaping *Use solar lights front yard and backyard *Planted 5 fruit trees *Put in a small summer vegetable garden *Capture rain water in barrels *Reduced energy and water use by 50% *Reduced spending habits *Went from 2 cars down to 1 *Drive slower and reduce car use *Changed careers to environmental focus *Spend a lot of time outdoors! *Identify goals for the next 12 months

Tracey Smith says …

I love all those points but as you've raised, there are so many we can do that cost us NOTHING, in fact, they actually SAVE us lots! It is always so lovely when I get into conversation with somebody who has that light bulb moment....you can see the penny has dropped and they finally 'get' it! It's wonderful and you know, they are excited about stepping forward with a completely new way of tackling life. I will never tire of it. Tracey Smith Founder of InterNational Downshifting Week

Rhonda Murphy says …

I come from a small island nation, where we grew up 'Green". We did not know any other way, and foreigners who lived on the island, would look down on our simple yet very healthy lifestyle. Who knew , now it is the way it shoul be for the health of not only people but the planet. I have lived in he U.S for almost 25 years nowand have always l hve like I would at home, it was effortless and easy for me, . In addition to evrything on Sophia's list and more, something new that I started doig in my neighbourhood is on trash day, if I notice things that are still ggod being tossed out, I will pick them up and recycle by taking them to goodwill stores or recycling bins in the community. I have given to good will perfectly good toys, and a lot of household items. Our goowill store is just a few minutes away. I do this quietly, hoping that the neighbours will be encouraged to do the same. Every little bit counts.

Ching says …

Don't forget the "green" pet products. I use "the world's best cat litter", which is made out of natural corn kernals. No kidding, it is the world's best cat litter! Not only human consumption should go "green", the pets consumption can go "green" too!

sharon clark says …

I jumped on the band wagon to Go Green. Instead of pressing the "easy" button I visited worldcentric.com and ordered all green products for the office. I was suprised by how much was available cups, utensils, plates all made from corn and paper towels, TP and writing paper from recylced pulp! Costs a little more, but saving our wonderous earth is worth it!

Kathleen Rushlow says …

When I found out how long it takes for a plastic water bottle to break down, I stopped buying them, but still needed to have something for my gym workouts, so I bought a Pomegranate tea that came is a glass jar (the size of water drinking glass) with a snap on lid and after I finish the tea, I wash the glass and lid and use them for my water bottles. I may also use the bottom as extra water glasses!

Brent Bielema says …

My favorite green web site is Plants for a Future (pfaf.org), which is based in the UK and rates the edibility and medicinal properties of thousands of plants. So if you are thinking of growing something, you can just check it out in their handy database. You can also add comments if you have any questions or experiences with the plants to share. With the kind of thinking represented on this site, we sure wouldn't have to worry about energy crises and wars. We could simply grow our way into abundance and prosperity. And isn't that really the dream that Thomas Jefferson had -- carried on now by Dr. Ron Paul and company?! (He is an organic tomato farmer...)

Sara Gardner says …

I know you'll find informed, current information here in keeping with the Whole Foods philosophy. Please check it out and pass it on!

Courtney says …

I'm with Heidi, I went to cloth diapers. Actually less troublesome ( and cheaper) than one may think, and at least I can rest knowing I'm not filling the landfill with disposables. We also vowed to start buying in bulk and making alot of our everyday things (like bread, rolls, cereal etc..) rather than buying them and wasting packaging, So much better for you too!