Ever felt guilty about forgetting your reuseable grocery bags and having to use a paper one instead? Well I certainly have! That's why I'm excited to let you know that Whole Foods Market is the first national retailer to provide Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper bags at our checkout counters. This means we are reducing pressure on virgin forests and protecting biodiversity. Hopefully other retailers will follow our lead and the impact will be even greater! The FSC is an international nonprofit that promotes the responsible management of the world's forests and offers the most comprehensive standard for certification of forest products. FSC certified paper originates from post-consumer recycled fiber or from forests certified to the FSC's rigorous forest management standards. The FSC's independently verified chain-of-custody system requires paper producers to track their certified fiber throughout the production and distribution process. Because of its high standards and independence from the timber industry, the FSC is considered by environmental organizations around the world to be the gold standard for forest product certification. Post-consumer reclaimed material typically comes from corrugated boxes that might have held food or other products shipped to various retail outlets. This repurposing is important in a country that is the biggest market for paper products globally, producing 90 million tons of paper and consuming 100 million tons of paper each year, according to the FSC. Additionally this April, we partnered with Mohawk Fine Papers to create our Earth Month handouts using "third-generation" closed-loop recycled paper. We took our marketing material overages from the previous year, which were printed on paper made from 100% post-consumer waste, sent them to the de-inker, made them into pulp and then sent it back to the paper mill to be recycled anew into this year's Earth Month materials. All aspects of the third-generation closed loop process have occurred domestically, eliminating the need to ship pulp out of the country then back again, which is currently the norm. So, whether you need a paper bag at the checkout or pick up a 30 Ways in 30 Days Earth Month handout from our stores, you can feel good about doing your part to protect native forests.