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Tricky Recycling Made Easy

From batteries to #5 plastics, there are some recycling challenges out there. But we’re trying to make it easier for you. Here are a few of the things Whole Foods Market stores across the country accept and responsibly dispose of for you.

Specific recycling and composting options can vary by store due to local regulations and facilities. Just ask any cashier or team member at a Guest Services booth to direct you to the right recycling receptacle.

For a few years, I collected dead batteries. In a plastic container. Without a lid. On my kitchen countertop. Not very smart.

I knew I wasn’t supposed to throw the batteries out — they house all sorts of harmful heavy metals — but I didn’t know what to do with them, exactly. Hide them under my sink? Repurpose them as earrings and sell them on Etsy?

Things changed a few months ago when I noticed the specially marked bins at my local Whole Foods Market store in Austin, Texas and realized that the store would accept my batteries for recycling. The next week, I brought a dozen or so in, deposited them in the cardboard box and did a little happy dance. Finally, I had gotten rid of these blights on my culinary landscape!

Green Mission

Feeling relieved, I did a little more digging and discovered that Whole Foods Market recycles batteries and more as part of its Green Mission program. Green Mission is shorthand for: We’re trying to tread on Earth as gently as we can, and we’re taking measures to encourage that. Recycling is just one of those measures.

Here are a few of the things Whole Foods Market stores across the country accept and responsibly dispose of for you. The specific recycling options can vary by store due to local regulations and facilities, but in general these are available at many of our stores. Just ask any cashier or team member at a Guest Services booth to direct you to the right recycling receptacle.

Batteries: These tiny powerhouses work because they contain heavy metals like lead, mercury, cadmium and lithium. When batteries sit in a landfill, they break down and leak contaminants into our soil and water supply. When batteries are incinerated, that same stuff gets into the air. Drop them off with us and our partners will properly dispose of them.

Cork Recycling

Plastic bags: You might want to sit down when you hear this. The number of bags we humans use worldwide in the course of a year is (drumroll, please): one trillion. Next, consider the number of years it takes most plastic bags to break down: 1,000 years. Fun fact: recycled plastic bags often wind up in composite wood and deck furniture. Recycle those bags and better yet, bring your reusables.

Cork: The little doodads that stop up your wine bottle come from the cork forests of the Mediterranean, which span about 6.6 million acres from Italy to Tunisia. Little known is that these cork forests host a level of biodiversity topped only by the Amazon forest region. Pretty amazing!

Whole Foods Market partners with an organization called Cork Reharvest in its cork recycling effort, and it also helps Cork Reharvest preserve the cork forests of Europe.

Preserve Gimme 5

Brita filters, yogurt cups and other #5 plastics: Add this to the list of stuff I didn’t know. Many municipalities don’t accept #5 plastics in their community recycling program. But thanks to Preserve’s Gimme 5 program you can drop off these plastics at Whole Foods Market stores. Preserve then uses the recycled material to create their toothbrushes, razors, food storage containers and more. Essentially closing the loop. Cool! What do you recycle at your local Whole Foods Market store?

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