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Too Much Plastic at Trader Joe’s?

Too Much Plastic at Trader Joe’s?

This commentary is not about bashing a whole company, or even a particular store. I shop at Trader Joe’s regularly, because it is within walking distance and I can get organic produce. Sometimes I purchase their prepared packaged foods also, but their Potato Masala Dosa simply has too much plastic packaging for one item. The food itself is good enough to merit a purchase, and at $1.99 for an 800-calorie meal it certainly is a good deal – but all the extra plastic ruins the consumer experience.

From the initial inspection, what you see is a harmless-looking paper box (pictured above), but once you open the plastic bag inside it, you can clearly see each dosa comes in its own plastic sheet, meaning their are four sheets of plastic inside the main plastic bag. Additionally, there is one small plastic bag containing coconut chutney. So there are a total of six pieces of plastic – all of which appears to be non-recyclable, for a single meal. Non-recyclable plastic is likely to wind up in a landfill – or worse, in a lake, river or ocean once it gets blown there eventually.

masala dosa

Criticizing one meal and its plastic package might seem like an overreaction, but consider the fact that if TJ’s sells one million Potato Masala Dosas, there are six million pieces of plastic that have to be dealt with, and ten million sold is sixty million pieces of plastic, etc.

There’s a simple solution to this excessive plastic waste for the single package meal – get rid of the four plastic sleeves for the dosas. It doesn’t matter if the dosas are stacked next to each other are touching, because even if they stick together somewhat, upon thawing they should be separable.

plastic and dosas

Even the chutney could be put in a small, paper container because it gets frozen solid and shouldn’t leak if the paper is thick enough.

Sorry Trader Joe’s, your Masala Dosa is a good product at a great price, but it contains far too much plastic for me to purchase again.

Image Credits: Author


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9:20PM PDT on Apr 5, 2012

Hi. That packaging is ridiculous. Kudos for pointing it out. I am working on getting a campaign together to ask Trader Joe's to reduce its plastic packaging. This will be a concerted effort and will include support from other organizations because Trader Joe's seems to use more plastic packaging than any other grocery store. Right now, we are concentrating on the produce because most of the produce they well does not need to be packaged in plastic. I would love for you to leave your ideas and feedback at because right now I am just trying to gauge interest.

Beth Terry
Living plastic-free

2:36PM PST on Jan 7, 2012

thanks for this, and would like to see less plastic used everywhere

4:17PM PST on Dec 26, 2011

I agree...that is WAY too much plastic for one product...good grief!!

12:32AM PST on Dec 25, 2011

So ridiculous! Why all the plastic Trader Joe's??? Their over packaging has always frustrated me--it goes against what they stand for, so why hasn't it changed?!

12:26PM PST on Dec 22, 2011

I hope the mfg and TJ's can work together so that we can all start to think of ways to use less plastic in packaging and in our daily lives. I now bring my reusable bags with me to Target and other stores I shop at to lower my impact of using plastic. And, starting July 2012 my city will no longer use plastic bags at food stores and other retail outlets.

11:40AM PST on Dec 22, 2011

We could write to the manufacturer of such products with alternate solutions to all that plastic. The address or at least their name, city, and State is usually on the package. Some have toll free phone numbers for comments.

4:00PM PST on Dec 20, 2011

Every store, grocery to wearing apparel, should be encouraged to ask the manufacturers/suppliers to find ecology alternatives to plastic. Thanks for the article. We love many things about Trader Joes, we just try not to buy items with plastic. That is difficult - some items read, look, and are so tempting!

10:12AM PST on Dec 20, 2011

There is far too much plastic being sold in many stores. We could start by banning those plastic bags everywhere

1:42PM PST on Dec 19, 2011

I agree totally with this article. Trader Joe's would be our favorite grocery store if we weren't lucky enough to have Berkeley Bowl near us. We would buy a lot more at Trader Joe's, but we refuse to buy vegetables packaged in plastic clamshells. Four endive in a plastic clamshell?!?! Four bell peppers in a plastic clamshell?!?! There is absolutely no need for this. Whole Foods doesn't even do this! And all of you griping about WalMart or Costco? I don't shop there AT ALL for the reasons mentioned. But their greater wrongs do not make right Trader Joe's lesser wrongs. Should we ask Trader Joe's not to improve because they are not as bad as the others? No! If you don't think plastic is great for our environment, then you should campaign against it everywhere, even our beloved Trader Joe's.

10:45AM PST on Dec 19, 2011

Trader Joe's does use alot of plastic ..just not in this frozenproduct bul also in their prepared salads and block cheeses ...but still it is better than plastic grocery bags!


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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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