Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Small Steps Add Up: Gimme 5 Recycling

By Elizabeth Leader Smith, April 12, 2012  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Elizabeth Leader Smith

Let’s say you recycle, compost, bike to work and are mindful of wasting water and electricity. Plus, you always remember your reusable shopping bags. Then you certainly have already made a commitment to caring for the planet. (We need more people like you around!)

But what do you do with all of those containers from yogurt, cream cheese, hummus, take-out and other plastic food storage with the #5 on the bottom? Not many recycling programs take that type of plastic, but we do!

What is Whole Foods Market® doing? We’ve implemented Preserve’s Gimme 5 recycling infrastructure, a partnership with Stonyfield Farm, Tom’s of Maine, Brita and Preserve to promote upcycling of #5 plastics.

It works like this:

  1. Bring your #5 plastics to a drop-off bin at our participating stores. That means your Tom’s of Maine deodorant packaging, Stonyfield yogurt containers, used Brita water pitcher filters (see the Preserve website for details on recycling the Brita filters) and a number of other products made from #5 plastic, including dairy and take-out containers.
  2. We send the containers to Preserve, where the plastic is ground up and turned into clean plastic pellets.
  3. These pellets are then sent to Preserve’s manufacturing facilities to be transformed into stylish recycled household products like toothbrushes, razors, tableware, cutting boards, colanders and lots of other cool kitchenware – products that we sell.
  4. When you choose to purchase 100% recycled Preserve products, you close the loop on the whole recycling chain. (Pretty cool, right?)

What can you do? Since announcing the program in 2009, over 381,000 pounds of plastic have been recycled with the Gimme 5 program, and Preserve makes it easy to participate. The program is now available in more than 230 of US Whole Foods Market® stores.

You’ll find the complete list of Gimme 5 locations on their website or on-the-go with the Gimme 5 iPhone app. If you don’t live near one of the current collection sites or if your Whole Foods Market store doesn’t yet offer Gimme 5 recycling, you can mail your #5 plastics to Preserve.

Even better, you can “check in” your recycling via Preserve’s Gimme 5 app or on the website mygimme5.com, and you’ll be rewarded with Recyclebank Points that you can use for discounts on products and other cool deals.

Remember, when it comes to taking care of the planet, small steps – and small yogurt containers – can make a big difference. In fact, to celebrate Earth Day and all the little ways we can work together we’re giving away a year’s supply of Eco-Scale™ rated household cleaning products. Just click here and go to this blog post to share your Earth Day resolution and you’ll be entered to win.

Have you participated in the Gimme 5 recycling loop by turning in your #5 plastic containers, buying Preserve products or both? If so, we’d like to hear from you.




j.J. says ...
Actually, I have a different problem. My county recycles #5 plastics, but not #1 non-bottle plastics. And Whole Foods is my main source of #1 non-bottle plastics!
04/13/2012 11:38:35 AM CDT
alison deans says ...
I was reading the article in the New York TImes about the Good African Coffee company based in Uganda. It seems to me a store like Whole Foods which charges premium prices should consider offering good coffee that also helps further the development of commerce in impoverished countries. It will make it easier for us to spend as much as we do in your stores. My suggestions is you offer this coffee at your stores or at least at your stores in NYC. Best, Alison Deans
04/14/2012 9:21:12 AM CDT
Amanda says ...
Jj I can recycle 5 and 1 but not 3 4. Every city is different. There should be more programs like this, so you could send your #1 to some place like mine and I could send my 3 and 4s to some place that recycled them. What a wonderful world that would be.
04/14/2012 10:21:16 AM CDT
Wendy says ...
I can recycle 1-7 in grand rapids,mi
04/14/2012 1:42:07 PM CDT
April says ...
We are FINALLY getting a Whole Foods in Columbia, SC and I am really hoping they'll do Gimme 5 there too. I currently save my #5 plastics and go on an hour road trip to the nearest WF to recycle them once I've got a huge bag saved up!
04/18/2012 12:10:48 PM CDT
Linda Beckman says ...
We collect #5 containers at our church and a nice person takes them to a Whole Foods recycling center. Someone else takes batteries for recycling, and I collect empty prescription bottles for Matthew 25 Ministries.
04/18/2012 4:26:45 PM CDT
Ty Shlackman says ...
I only have caps to containers that are number 5 plastics. Whole Foods needs to use number 5 plastics for their own brand products or at least have a recycle symbol with any number. Many of Whole Foods brand products don't appear to be recyclable since they have no recycle symbol on them.
04/18/2012 7:20:09 PM CDT
Ruth says ...
What about replacing the plastics with glass? That may be the answer in the long run anyway as we run out of oil, no? I used to make my own yogurt in glass containers.
04/29/2012 6:11:08 PM CDT
Pierre says ...
I fortunately live in a community that takes all numbered plastics. However, I was surprised and very disappointed to find that the lids and containers used to package Whole Foods "Original Hummus" are NOT numbered plastic! I also noticed that WF does not use recyclable plastic for packaging their fresh pizza dough. I thought Whole Foods touted that they used recyclable plastic for their food packaging. I go to the WF in Los Altos, CA. I hope WF can correct this soon.
06/11/2012 12:46:22 PM CDT
Jimi says ...
Do you have a plan to accept the plastic bottle caps for recycle? i have been searching around the Birmingham ,AL area for a place that recycles the plastic bottle caps but no such a luck. Could you give me some idea where should I take them? i hate to throw them in a trash. Thank you
10/19/2012 12:21:36 PM CDT
Bill Solley says ...
Location of stores in Scottsdale, Arizona that participate in the Gimme 5 recycle program
10/30/2012 2:23:07 PM CDT
Megan says ...
@BILL - According to Preserve's web site, the Arizona stores are not currently participating in the Gimme 5 program. Be sure to let your local store know you want it!
10/31/2012 10:19:10 AM CDT
Blah says ...
Replying to Jim: I just found out that Aveda collects caps and lids - from shampoos, sodas etc. I think you can just take them to an Aveda store and they reuse them for packaging their products.
11/16/2012 1:12:07 PM CST
David Malvin says ...
According to the Preserve website, there are no Whole Foods stores participating in this recycling program in Las Vegas. This website also does not appear to show whether or not Whole Foods is participating in this program. Have I missed something?
01/22/2013 9:45:11 AM CST
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@DAVID - You will find a list of stores where this is available on their website at http://www.preserveproducts.com/recycling/gimme5locations.html. Hope this helps!
01/22/2013 3:21:28 PM CST
susie sokol says ...
Do you know if the Whole Foods on Bowery and Houston in Manhattan has a Gimme 5 program in place?
05/30/2013 10:08:48 AM CDT
C Grim says ...
Where do I recycle styrofoam containers?
05/30/2013 9:28:35 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@SUSIE - Most of our locations should still participate. If they do not, it is mainly because the local recycling company now accepts #5 plastics with their recycling program.
06/03/2013 5:11:10 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@C GRIM - This will vary between cities. I would suggest calling your local recycling agency to see if they have any recommendations.
06/03/2013 5:11:53 PM CDT
Chris says ...
Do you accept used/empty prescription bottles?
06/29/2013 7:30:59 AM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@CHRIS - It depends on the # on the plastic bottle. If it is a #5, check with your local store that they are still receiving this number for recycling.
07/01/2013 12:45:33 PM CDT
Brandy says ...
Why can't every place just recycle everything? Ughh... My apartment doesn't have ANY recyle program AT ALL and I don't know what to do. I've been reusing my glass jars but I'm running out of ideas and just look like a hoarder now... Even so I have mountains of plastic and paper going into the trash because I have no way to reuse or recycle them.
08/07/2013 9:25:19 AM CDT
dorothee pierrard says ...
Hello, I came to your store at 808 Columbus Ave, New York 10025 with plastic caps and an employer told me that they didn't participate to the recycling program. Could you give me some info about that? Did Wholefood stop doing it or should I go to another store of yours? Thanks, Dorothee
08/15/2013 6:00:50 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@DOROTHEE - My apologies for the confusion. I called and spoke with the customer service desk and they said they still offer this recycling for #5 plastic. They moved the bin which could be why the team member was confused. You can find the Gimme 5 bin in the cafe.
08/22/2013 11:16:46 AM CDT
Shan Zhou says ...
Can I get discount if I return the used brita replacement filter?
11/12/2013 5:44:53 AM CST