Hey! You with the glittery shamrock-bobble headband and the “Kiss Me I’m Irish” button! You’re probably wearing a green shirt, right? And maybe planning a lovely meal of corned beef and cabbage washed down with green beer?
Over here at Whole Foods Market today we’ll also be busy getting our green on because, well, we don’t want to get pinched — and because we’re gearing up for Earth Month in April. Actually, we work hard to get our green on every day of the year; after all, it’s one of our Core Values.
Here are just a few ways we care for the environment in many of our stores:
- Recycling drop-off bins for customers: most of our stores have partnerships with Cork Re-Harvest (which upcycles wine corks) and Gimme 5 (which upcycles #5 plastics in the form of yogurt cups and Brita water filters); many stores also accept your plastic bags from other retailers
- Rebates for BYOB: when you bring your own bags, we’ll rebate up to 10 cents each at the register to reward you for your resource-thrifty behavior
- Inexpensive reusable carrier bags: our two sizes of Better Bags are made from recycled materials, both sizes cost less than a buck and will likely last for more than 250 individual shopping trips with normal wear; if they do wear out, you can return them to a Whole Foods Market
- FSC-certified 100% recycled paper bags: we were the first retailer to carry Forest Stewardship Council-certified 100% recycled paper bags (for when you forget your reusable bags)
- Recycling stations in food service areas: most of our stores have eating areas and we try to make it easy for you to help us recycle and compost everything possible (that is, according to local ordinances and waste diversion infrastructure)
- Compostable food containers: most of our salad bar containers are made from natural fibers obtained from bulrush (cattails), an abundant renewable resource that is harvested annually in the wild
- Recycled and compostable pizza boxes: many of our stores offer hearth-baked pizzas; in most locations we offer the take-out pies in a Greenbox, an innovative container that can be folded into a smaller size as you eat part of the pizza—you can even make serving dishes out of it
- Bicycle racks: we make it easy for muscle-powered cyclists to eat and shop with us
- Electric vehicle recharge stations: many of our new stores and some of the older ones, like our flagship Lamar store, have free recharge stations for electric cars
- Food donations: the vast majority of our stores donate usable food items to food banks and charitable organizations (following local health department regulations, of course); many stores hold non-perishable food drives for food banks throughout the year
- Store composting: in those communities that have a commercial composting infrastructure in place, we make sure our biologicals end up there instead of the landfill; in some areas that lack composting facilities, we even backhaul the compost to our distribution centers so that we don’t have to send this valuable resource to a landfill
- Beer and wine: we have environmentally friendly options at our in-store watering holes such as keg wines that allow us to significantly reduce packaging and waste and reusable growlers (64-oz. or 32-oz. glass jugs) for transporting the draft beer we carry at many of our stores
And while we haven’t found ideal solutions yet for some items that remain disposable (cutlery, for example) we’re continually working on finding better solutions for serving ware and packaging.
Besides wearing your green t-shirt, how do you get your green on at home? Have you dropped off plastic bags, yogurt cups or corks at Whole Foods Market before? Participated in an electronics or canned-food drive? Used our bike racks, electric-vehicle recharge station or rented a car2go at a store?
What else would you like to see us do in service to the environment?