It's been a year now since we eliminated disposable plastic grocery bags in our stores. (Feel free to insert lame joke here about time flying.) We thought customers would support this move but we've been blown away by how much: reusable bag use has tripled and we estimate that together we've kept about 150 million plastic bags out of landfills since last Earth Day. Way cool. Definitely the right move at the right time.
And this is one of those things that really makes a difference. During the Ocean Conservancy's 2008 International Coastal Cleanup
, they found 1.4 million plastic bags littering our ocean and waterways - the second most common item found after cigarette butts. Dianne Sherman, Director of the International Coastal Cleanup, explains: "Trash travels - even if we live thousands of miles inland our actions have a profound effect on the ocean. A bag can blow from a picnic table, wash down a storm drain into a river, and wind up harming or killing a sea turtle, bird or other marine life that eats it. Ocean debris is one of the most pervasive - but solvable - pollution problems facing our ocean and waterways. Whole Foods Market and their customers are demonstrating how simple lifestyle changes can make a sea change."
Of course, we want to keep it going and encourage even more customers to reuse their bags. We'll continue to offer our A Better Bag at .79 and .99 in addition to a variety of other reusable bags. And don't forget that we offer a refund of at least five cents for bringing your own bag to use.
We know, too, that this is a first step. We are continuing to evaluate each department in our stores to find ways to improve packaging efforts. We are currently seeking alternatives to plastic bags in our bulk, produce, bakery and seafood departments and we're working with vendors to eliminate styrofoam packaging in shipments. In 2007, we introduced all-natural fiber packaging (from plants that are cultivated or grow wild and are harvested annually) at its salad and food bars. We keep working to raise the bar and know that others will follow our lead.
So, thanks to all of you who bring your own bags! Got a special way to help you remember to bring those reuseable bags when you shop? Share your ideas here.