|JANUARY 24, 2008—”Paper or plastic?” The clerks at Whole Foods will cease asking shoppers that question as they discontinue the use of disposable, plastic bags at all 270 stores worldwide by Earth Day 2008 (April 22).|
The move is expected to save about 100 million plastic bags in 2008 alone, according to a company statement.
“Bring your own bag, save your own planet,” the graphic on the Whole Foods web site says, highlighting the company’s commitment to greener alternatives.
“Central to Whole Foods Market’s core values is caring for our communities and the environment, and this includes adopting wise environmental practices,” A.C. Gallo, co-president and chief operating officer for Whole Foods Market, said in a company press release. “Together with our shoppers, our gift to the planet this Earth Day will be reducing our environmental impact as we estimate we will keep 100 million new plastic grocery bags out of our environment between Earth Day and the end of this year alone.”
Whole Foods becomes the first U.S. supermarket to commit to eliminating the use of plastic bags. To celebrate the announcement, Whole Foods declared January 22 “Bring your own Bag Day” and gave out 50,000 reusable shopping bags.
Effective immediately, Whole Foods will begin using up the plastic bags it has in stock while raising consumer awareness of the hazards of plastic bags.
“Doing away with plastic grocery bags won’t just help protect marine life, it’s a key move in shifting us away from a ‘consume-and-dispose’ mentality,” Lisa Mastny, editor of the Worldwatch Institute report Oceans in Peril, said in a press statement. “Disposable plastic bags can linger in the environment for more than 1,000 years and are the major debris item found on the seabed, especially near the coast.”
While paper bags will continue to be available to consumers who don’t bring their own, these bags are made of 100 percent recycled material.