Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Welcome to the Whole Green Blog!

In celebration of Earth Month – also known as “April” — we are launching this blog as a way for our readers to share their great ideas about how to keep our Earth strong and healthy. For the past year or so, we’ve invited our fl@vors newsletter subscribers (sign up now) to send us their simple, actionable tips for making the world a “greener” place – with the bonus of a $25 Whole Foods Market gift card if we published their tip in the newsletter. We’ve been inundated with awesome advice and have felt quite guilty that we couldn’t share all of it with our readers. This blog solves that dilemma! By adding your comments here, everyone will have ready access to them. We’ll read them all and then choose a few each month to feature as their own expanded posting on this blog and in fl@vors. If your comment is turned into a feature, we’ll send you a $25 gift card, same as before. And for our first feature, Gina who shops at our White Plains, NY, store has a great idea for reusing plastic bags. She explains “After I use a heavy-duty plastic bag (zip top type) for bread or muffin storage in the freezer, instead of throwing it away, I store the empty bag back in the freezer. Then the next time I purchase bread or muffins for freezing, I reuse the frozen bag. This way I am not wasting the bag and freezing it keeps mold from developing.” Great idea! What else are people doing out there to limit the number of storage baggies making their way into our landfills? Comment here and let us know how you are keeping green for Earth Day and every day. Thanks and looking forward to your comments!

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86 comments

Comments

Roseann Richardson says …

I also reuse my zip top bags, especially for bread. When I purchase fresh bread I slice it and freeze immediately, this way the freshness is preserved. When ready to use I take out what I need and wrap in foil and place in warm oven for about 10 min. Comes out just like fresh baked. Then when finished with the bag I fold down the top and let it air dry and fold and store for another bread storage item. I do this with fresh bagels, rolls and also bake small breads myself and do the same. Make sure you mark each package clearly.

Rosalind says …

In the March 31, 2007 issue, p.38, of the magazine "The Economist" there is a short article entitled "Plastics of Evil". It relates that the city of San Francisco has just outlawed plastic shopping bags in favor of biodegradable bags made of corn or potato starch. "Outlawing plastic bags in San Francisco alone will reduce oil comsumption by nearly 800,000 gallons a year" the article states, describing as well other significant environmental benefits to result. Apparently other cities - Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Oakland, Berkeley and even New York are exploring similar requirements. Given the number of stores in Whole Foods' system there is the potential for a meaningful environmental impact should Whole Foods introduce this change. How about it, Whole Foods? Great way to set a trend nationally with other markets encouraged to follow.

Mary Jones says …

I bought 2 canvas shopping bags which I use on every trip to the grocery store to minimize paper usage. If I have more groceries than my bags can handle, I request they pack lots of stuff in one bag until it is completely full. When I get home, I keep the bag and use it a few more times before recycling. I also bring my own empty jars for bulk products like rice, oatmeal, sugar, nuts, etc.

kat says …

I also freeze my bread. For a single person, this is the only way to avoid wasted bread. A short time in the microwave will defrost and warm up slices. I don't know, but I think microwaves are more energy efficient than ovens, does anyone know?

EK says …

Before I toss my bath towels in the hamper, I always use them to wipe down the entire bathroom. (Handtowels are especially useful for this). Countertops, toilet cover, faucets, tub and other hardware. This saves a lot of papertowels, and absorbs better than them too!

Helen says …

Here's how I avoid using plastic wrap to store pieces of melons and other fruits that I buy whole but cannot use up immediately. I cut through the top third of the melon, scoop out what I need of the inside, and use the top as a lid to cover and protect the rest of the fruit. As the fruit is used up, I cut away rind from the middle of the fruit, keeping the lid intact. To save storage space it can be helpful to stand the fruit on its smaller end, trimming the bottom a little and placing it on a small plate for stability. The stored fruit stays fresh and moist without plastic. The rind and seeds go into the compost, but that's another blog topic.

ktmay says …

we reuse our yogurt containers by planting our seeds for a spring/summer garden in them. poke a few holes in the bottom, set them out on the deck in the sun and you're good to go. if we're feeling really frisky, we'll mod podge a little decorative paper on them so they look pretty while also being functional and eco-friendly.

Triffany says …

I use film canisters as stamp dispensers. I buy the rolls of stamps (also saves on paper), cut a little slot in the side of the cannister, put the roll in, feed the stamps out and VOILA I have a neat and tidy place for my regular stamps as well as my postcard stamps. Can't recycle them all that way, but it's a start.

Katie says …

My community and other neighboring communities extends our curbside recycling programs by offering designated household hazard waste dropoff days throughout the year where residents can drop off harmful commonly used household products that cannot be recycled at the curb like non-reusable batteries, lightbulbs, pesticides, bleach, oil based paints, expired medications and even computers so that they may be disposed of properly and not dumped down drains or buried in landfills where they have the opportunity to contaminate the land and water systems. I make sure to keep a large bag in my garage for my used up one time use batteries and lightbulbs and to take advantage of this community based service every year. It gives me a little comfort in knowing that at least I am not sending my old batteries and lightbulbs to the landfill where harmful chemicals can leech out into the soil and revisit me in a dangerous way--my drinking water.

Ellen Lang says …

I bought an Earth Day string bag which will hold up to 40 pounds and lasts indefinitely. It's always in my car and has lots of uses in addition to groceries. This usually gets a great discussion started in a department store, hardware store or any other place where paper or plastic bags may be used.

Holland says …

We as a family have adopted many "green" routines. All the light bulbs in our home have been switched to compact fluorescent bulbs. We keep canvas and reuseable groceries bags in the back of the car and use them as much as possible when we go shopping, that includes department stores as well. We only turn on lights in our house in the rooms we are in and when we leave the room, we turn off the lights. We recycle everything that we can and even wash and reuse plastic ziploc bags until they are too broken down or too smelly to use again. We use biodegrable laundry soap and wash in cold water. There are many little things we have done and we hope to be a good example to those around us

Elaine McCracken says …

Plain and simple. I wash plastic bags that I use. We have had the same couple of boxes (different sizes) of plastic bags for several years. I also use celophane bags (I got these years ago, also, from Seventh Generation) and wax paper bags from Whole Foods.

Ricardo Rabago says …

Here is a cool audio podcast establishing and supporting a local living economy that sustains itself, our community and a healthy environment. <a HREF="http://organicallyspeaking.org/wp/?p=24" rel="nofollow">http://organicallyspeaking.org/wp/?p=24</a> All the best, -Ricardo

marcee mckay says …

i have canvas bags that i reuse for groceries but also have the plastic grocery bags (from overflowing my canvas bags) that we fill with anything that can be recycled...so when whe see the plastic bag we know it is all recycling stuff...i have a 3 year old daughter that i am trying to mold into a "green" little girl!...we reuse the plastic containers we get from the hot and cold cases to organize my daughters small toys such as beads, broken crayolas, and jewelry...we have made a piggybank out of the large one...i feel like i can always use those for some kind of storage...we also have a compost which is great to give some nutrients back to the soil.

Patricia Baldwin says …

I keep a stack of china bowls,all fitting one inside the other, and a stack of glass plates in the kitchen cabinet. Leftovers in the bowls,glass plate on top and into the fridge. I can see instantly what's in what. I don't worry about hot or cold foods absorbing any nasty carcenogenic molecules that get into our food when we use plastic films and/or containers. This method cuts back on plastic containers in the land fill. Our mothers and grandmothers did something like this before plastic was invented...

Rebecca says …

Teachers are always on a limited budget. Think about them the next time you finish a can of soup, an oats canister, yogurt container, etc. Wash them and send them to school with your child. You can even have your child decorate them before sending. Teachers can then reuse them as containers for their classroom supplies. They'll find many creative ways to use what could have been trash!

Carmen Merriam says …

I slice and wrap bread in foil before putting in a plastic bag in the freezer then the bag can be reused for anything.

Victoria Manning says …

It's a great idea to switch to compact flourescent lighting when possible. However, if you are going to continue using incandescent, try to use as low a wattage as possible. In other words, 40 watt is better than 75 or 100 watt.

Jan Nichols says …

I purchased a stainless steel water bottle which I refill, rather than using disposable plastic bottles. Rather than using petroleum-based hand &amp; body lotion, try organic coconut oil, from the baking secion at Whole Foods! That way your skin is absorbing something nutritious instead of toxic.

Tracey says …

There are lots of great ideas here. We use shampoos and conditioners that are in bar form to avoid the grade 5 plastics that are not recycable, reuse zipper bags by turning them inside out and washing them as if they were our tupperwear. Our tupperwear is made of glass and a recycable plastic lid. We make our own cleaning soloution with vinegar, water and a natural oil fragrance and reuse the plastic spray bottle. Biodegradable laundry soap I have found smells better and gets our clothes cleaner than the traditional chemical based soaps. We use shopping bins instead of bags and we are currently looking into getting a doggie doodie composter so we don't have to even use the biodegradable bags for the stoop and scoop.

Vidhu says …

For dirty kitchen and bathroom counters, I do not use harsh chemicals. I mix some baking soda and lemon juice and leave on the soap spots / lime deposits. Then, using an old toothbrush, I scrub those areas clean. For the other areas, I use old clothes that have been cut and tailored into small square cloth pieces, which can be washed easily. The counters are clean and fresh smelling for a longer time.

Laura says …

I am in the process of teaching my son, Jake, that there are several uses for everyday items. Here are some things Jake and I have reused recently: we use egg cartons for painting, coffee cans &amp; cottage cheese containers to store his toy cars &amp; markers/crayons, he has painted many beautiful pieces of artwork on brown paper bags and the backside of gift registries, Daddy's old shirt are the perfect art smock, and what little boy doesn't like a big old box???? Endless adventures for a 2 1/2 year old. Jake is currently learning all about composting. Again tons of fun for a little boy: Throwing leaves, grass, newspapers, and kitchen scraps into an outdoor bin. Slam dunk!! in Jake's own words.

Sarah C. says …

What I recently started is I bought a bunch of pretty linen napkins to use in place of paper. That way they just easily help to fill up a load of laundry instead of being tossed each time they are used. And the paper towels that we do keep in the house for those odd moments none of the napkins are washed are 100% recycled.

Waspy says …

HI All, When you get home with all our fabulous organics.. you can also keep the yellow jackets away this summer .. without killing them or using harmful pesticides.. I love Whole foods and would like to introduce others who enjoy shopping there to my invention!! It's an enviromentally friendly Wasp deterrent product that really works!! NO yucky bait- no chemicals-just hang it up and watch them take off!! The Original Waspinator mimics a real nest-wasps are territorial so they stay away from it. Simple and easy and above all doesn't kill them.. wasps are benifical insects. thanks for you time. hope you have a chance to check out our product. My sister and I have developed ths product together. www.waspinator.com

Sharon says …

After I have finished with those plastic dried spice containers I wash out them out, dispose of the labels and use them for holding different colored pencil crayons, the kids love to see them displayed on a desk or anywhere easy for them to reach them. They look so nice and makes chosing the desired colour easy as pie! It also teaches the kids organization as they love to return them to the right pot ;-)

Sun Enge says …

We've been creeping towards more greeness for years, decided to jump off and do it big time in 2007. I traded in my car for a scooter, and we're turning our standard city lot in the middle of Austin into an organic farm. I quit my jobs as a personal chef and substitute teacher to grow organic produce to hopefully sell to local businesses. Gardens this year, chickens (for eggs) next year. I also use 'trash' to create artwork, things that would otherwise end up in the landfill.

mary says …

i reuse plastic bags in two ways. i keep one in the freezer for compostables such as coffee grinds, eggshells, avocado rinds and seeds, and so forth. when it gets full, i take it out to the compost pile and bury the frozen organic waste deeply to keep flies away and the odor down. this saves on trips to the compost pile and the "green matter" helps the "brown matter" decompose more quickly. i keep another plastic bag in the freezer for making stock. into it i put parsley stems, onion peels, carrot ends, squeezed lemons, little bits of leftovers, and so forth--anything that would add to the flavor and nutrition of a homemade stock. when i have a chicken carcass (from a lovely WF roasted chicken), i put it in a pot of water, add the frozen odds and ends of veggies, and simmer for a couple of hours. voila! it makes delicious stock. when the stock is done, i strain it and put the bones and whatever is left of the veggies back into that plastic bag and freeze it. it's garbage now, but freezing it until garbage collection day keeps the odors down. if i get confused about which bag holds what in my freezer, a quick peek inside tells me which is which. i have better compost and better stock, reuse plastic bags, and keep odors down!

Monique says …

i try to do as much as i can think of to stay green. i carry bags made from recycled plastic in my car to use each time i go to the grocery. and in my husband's car, i keep old Whole Foods paper bags. when at the grocery store, i do not put produce in plastic bags. and should i need to use a bag for something like green beans, i recycle old plastic newspaper bags, which i also keep in my car. they are the perfect size! and when i'm not using them for produce, i recycle the bags for poop my dog has created. i also reuse ziploc bags over and over as well as aluminum foil and plastic wrap, if it's not too dirty. very handy. and i try to reduce my use of all of those items by using food storage containers instead. one final thing, when i go out to eat, i can seldom finish my meal (given the ridiculous increase in portion sizes) so i try to bring storage containers from home to use instead of styrofoam to-go boxes.

Samantha says …

While everyone wants to bring their own bags to reduce waste, it's easy to forget them at home. What I reccomend my friends do is keep a stash of plastic or canvas bags in their trunk, this way even if you are making an unexpect trip to the store you have your bags waiting for you!

Juen Kang says …

Instead of plastic wrap, use reusable silicon suction lids to cover containers of food. The lids form an air-tight suction and are heat &amp; freezer safe. No more flimsy plastic to deal with nor worries about plastic leeching into food.

bonnie.frechette says …

I shop at thrift shops and consignment shops for a lot of my clothes and housewares. Yard sales are the ultimate thrill! And when I'm done wearing the clothes, I put them back into circulation! Once I held a "clothing swap" with some friends. We all ended up with something "new" and then we donated what was left. It was a perfect "spring cleaning" party!

Sharon says …

I have children that love making art for me to keep!...all of it!! To make keeping, storing and preserving easier I roll the artwork and fill an empty paper towel roll with a few pieces of rolled art at a time. These rolls are easy to store inside a storage box. I just put the name of the child and the date on the outside of the roll and voila, very important masterpieces from very important children ;-)

Ray Young says …

I bring lunch to work and I make sure I take any garbage that can be recycled back home with me since work doesnt have recycling. Its simple and satisfying to know that you dont add to the garbage heap.

Shanna says …

My favorite, although unintentional, means of recycling is collecting vintage Pyrex glassware. Many come with lids, some are stackable, and they are all oven/micro/fridge safe. And of course they are all fun and pretty on the kitchen shelves!

Nancy Dentler says …

Here's another way to minimize use of plastic bags and throw-aways. I use 5 re-usable plastic divided plates with lids to pack my lunches for work. I pack 5 lunch plates on Sunday evening and take them to work on Monday. There's plenty of room in refrigerators at work to store my lunches for the week. My lunches are mainly vegetable, fruit, and grain -based so they are healthy, inexpensive, and delicious. I never forget my lunch and never have to go out to eat thereby using more gasoline, spending more money, and consuming excess calories. My daily routine is simplified, I'm eating in a healthy fashion, spending less money for meals, and will have a trash-less lunch when I switch to a cloth napkin (as suggested in an earlier comment.) Give my lunch plan a try - I think you'll like it!

Judy McComb says …

Every morning when I fill up my dog's water bowls and my birdbaths, I use the water from the previous day to water my outdoor potted plants. I never have to water them from the hose and I don't have to worry about wasting the water that would otherwise be thrown away - and I get a bit of exercise in moving the water to all of my different plants.

Kim says …

We are working very hard to teach our children about recycling on the front end, before an item is even purchased. In the store we talk with them about an item's packaging, and look to see if it is recyclable. If not, we don't buy it. We have bins readily available in the kitchen, and look for the symbols before putting them in. Also, if an item in their lunch requires a spoon, we send in a metal one that they bring back home. If you don't want to take a chance on your "good" flatware, you can buy inexpensive ones at a thrift store.

Jen S says …

Compost! Not very many people down here in Florida do it, but it's easy as pie and works great for recycling all of your kitchen scraps right into potting soil. I use a covered plastic bin with holes in the bottom and put it in amongst the ferns, so no one's the wiser. (Do not put it next to the house.) All my food scraps (except meat and starches) go in it, as well as leafy yard waste (no sticks). Down here, because of the heat and wet, it doesn't even need to be turned and composts very quickly.

Kim says …

Here is a simple thing anyone can do; take a travel mug to your favorite coffee shop. Most are 16 oz size, a standard size used in most shops. If every person who frequently buys coffee away from home did this, millions of cups would be saved from the landfill.

Theresa Byer says …

My 4 year old granddaughter, Patience, and I have endeavored to turn our little plot of ground into a butterfly and organic garden haven. Patience has learned by observing caterpillars eating the Italian parsley that they will spin their cocoons and become butterflies. She is so excited when they hatch and actually fly onto her little hands! At her tender age, she can identify a few common kitchen herbs and readily waters and feeds them with compost tea. We save all of our vegetable kitchen scraps and add them to the soil every day~ She is our catalyst for recycling plastic, glass, and cardboard/paper. All of our aluminum cans are transported by her to our octogenarian neighbor who donates them to her church for the funding of children's programs. Every dinner meal has a bit of vegetables/edible flowers helpfully picked by her. She scared her papa badly one sunny afternoon when she popped a nasturtium into her smiling little mouth~ :) Blessings~Theresa Byer

Paula Kusmit says …

In the Fall of 2006 it became very aware to me that while packing my kids lunches we created an awful lot of waste with plastic sandwich bags and snack bags. At first I would have my kids bring home the somewhat clean sandwich and snack bags and I would reuse them. Of course that didn't last long because the thought occurred to me that these used bags could really be very dirty! I searched for alternatives and I came across "laptop lunch boxes", which is a hard plastic flat (like a laptop) lunch box that comes with a reuse spoon and fork and 5 plastic containers and 2 lids, which can be used if needed. At first my elementary school kids were not thrilled but as we discussed the TONS of waste created by school lunches we happily agreed that our family would NOT contribute to global warming. They have not asked to use "regular" lunch boxes since October of 2006. I really enjoy packing lunches in the colorful containers and I am really, really happy to be able to wash their lunch boxes and containers -- keeping away lots of those school germs!! I also teach my kids the importance of recycling. We even return the plastic bags that we use to take home our groceries from the supermarket back to the supermarket. I am looking into investing in the reusable cloth bags instead of using the plastic and/or paper bags from the grocery stores. We buy organic eggs, milk, cookies, chips, ice cream, cereal bars, fruits and veggies too! I think it is important to teach the young about how valuable our earth is and how and what we can do to help. We also recycle our plastic bottles, newspapers and tin cans in our weekly recycling pickup. I am proud to say I have not purchased plastic wrap, tin foil or plastic sandwich/snack bags since October 2006.

Betsy McCollum says …

My family is a bunch of trash pickers or as they say in England, gleaners. :) We find good stuff that people are throwing away and knock on their doors and ask if we can take the stuff to someone else. I have fixed up 17 bicycles this year for needy and deserving children and adults. Over 3 years we have provided more than 50 bicycles for families from my children's school who are in the US for a limited time and a bike is the key to them meeting other children. It is rewarding and fun to see how my children search for items on their bus ride and we run to salvage stuff out of the trash!

Beverly Boynton says …

A child in a family unit (conventional or unconventional) can't help but notice how parent(s) conduct themselves at home, in the household. If they recycle, re-use, buy green, etc., the child will notice this. If parent(s) stop to "keep the kids in the loop" about WHY they take so much care with these issues, all will be more readily absorbed. Confide in your children, and respect their ability to think in fresh ways. Ask for advice: "What else should we be doing to clean up our sick planet?" "If you think of a good idea, would you write it down for me?" Take the kids on a field trip to a landfill (Gross!). Offset that with another excursion to an urban garden or farmer's market. Information is just that, until it is integrated and lived.

Monique says …

in addition to all the stuff i posted on 4/10, i'd like to share some additional things i do to reduce/reuse/recycle. i always carry 2 cups in my car: one for coffee and one for water. i often find myself at my local coffee shop, and when i'm spending time there, i use their ceramic cups (sadly, they usually think i'm odd for asking) and i use my plastic cup i keep in my car for water. at dinner, my husband and i drink water. sometimes, we don't finish all that's in the glass before it goes stale. i use the remaining water to water my plants. i also use the dog's left over water for the same purpose. when i go shopping, i always try to have a bag handy. but, when i don't and i only have one or two items, i tell the cashier that i don't need a bag. i do have 2 capable carrying devices attached to my arms :) when eating at home, we always use cloth napkins. they don't get very dirty, and so they are only washed once a week along with the kitchen and bathroom towels (also used repeatedly throughout the week). this saves paper from paper towels and water due to washing.

Denise Neuzil says …

At work, we're constantly having to photocopy documents to give to our agents and clients. I recently began copying one-sided documents into two-sided documents whenever possible (some items cannot be combined with other documents), cutting the number of single sheets of paper used in half. With some of these items numbering in the 100's of pages, it has really cut down on the amount of copy paper used. Another tip my mother gave me years ago, is to use the inside of the envelopes from junk mail. She would cut open the envelope along the folds on the remaining 3 sides, after opening with a letter opener, and clip them all together and use as scratch paper, for her grocery list, notes, etc. instead of purchasing more expensive notepads. And, when I print something for myself on my home computer, such as receipts from online purchases or emails, once I no longer need that receipt or email, I turn the paper over and put it back in my printer to use again. Thanks for all the other great tips on this blog! HAPPY EARTH DAY!

Jessica Swartley says …

I live in a resort town in Vermont. Alot of unnecesary items get thrown away every day. My crafting group and I try and salvage as much as we can and make art out of it. Old sheets we dye and turn into carpets or bags. The candles that are used once we scrape down and rewick. It's fun and and uses less waste!

Irene says …

Don't throw away those empty film canisters! Use them to hold medications when traveling. Don't throw away that bottled water! Did you ever forget whose bottle was whose? No problem! Just boil away the germs and you're good to go! If you MUST use paper towels: Don't throw away that paper towel! Your hands were clean, right? So the paper towel is clean - it's just wet! Hang it up and it will dry! Then you can use it again. Don't throw away that firm cardboard tube that's in the center of the roll of plastic wrap! Cut it length-wise so you can fit it onto a wire hanger. Use the newly fitted hanger to hold your favorite table cloth. Reduce unsightly creases! Don't throw away those zip top bags! If the bags are clean (not used to store foods that contain proteins, fats, etc.) you can reuse them over and over again. If you need to rinse them out, invert them to dry or you can put a few tall chopsticks in a heavy mug and hang the bags on the sticks to drip dry.

ERICA MEADOWS says …

To make our little corner of the world a little bit "greener" and to introduce our almost two-year old to the joys of Planet Earth...he planted some sunflowers in a big pot in the garden a cyckeouple of weeks ago. It is amazing, that even at his very young age, he is excited to see his own flowers starting to sprout up! He looked at them yesterday, and then up at me, and said "Baby Flowa ?!" so he has his own babies to look after...who knows if this interest in the natural world will carry over into his later years, but one can always hope! As for "Reduce, Recycle, Re-use"...we do that is many ways. He helps me to sort plastic bottles from the paper, he also helps with the compost pile, and loves throwing in the old potato peels, orange peels etc! Cheers, and happy Earth Day to all!

Kelly Jean says …

Every tuesday night on the Sundance channel @ 10pm there is a special called "The Green". The information is very helpful and educational. I have learned alot about green housing and driving. This is a great way to get "green" more mainstream. I love this website and all Whole Foods is going for the environment. I am actually working on a paper for marketing, and my choice was Whole Foods. I am highlighting the eduacation, social, and economic support from the company. I love that "green" is growing in popularity! Happy belated Earth Day!

María Roca says …

Being from the Caribbean and in my 50's I was raised in a very organic and sustainable environment, thus the following suggestion: Line dry your laundry and, should the dried clothes need fluffing, 5-10 minutes in the dryer should do it(contrary to 60+ minutes in the dryer alone). Your clothes and linens will also last a long longer. I understand that not everyone has access to laundry lines, but at least keep it in mind when the opportunity presents itself. Your children, up to age 10 or 11, will love hanging, running through, taking down and folding the laundry. But then, they usually don't like to do much of anything around the house past 11 years old, anyway.

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