Whole Foods Bans the Bag


Phil Marino for The New York Times

Joining San Francisco, China, Australia, IKEA and more in an effort to cut back on plastic bags, Whole Foods announced yesterday that they won't be giving out plastic bags in their stores anymore. After testing it out with good results in stores in San Francisco, Austin, Texas and Toronto, they'll ban the bags in all of the chain's 270 stores starting on Earth Day, April 22.

The idea of cutting out disposable bags at a place like Whole Foods seems like it'd go together like peanut butter and jelly -- though bringing your own bag has been a hot TreeHugging tip for awhile now, as many of us can attest, knowing to do it and remembering to actually bring the bag along are two (maddeningly) different things --
the retailer estimates that they give out around 150 million plastic bags each year, so more than a few of us have been forgetting.

So, does this move by Whole Foods solve the "paper vs. plastic" debate forever?Not necessarily. As we mentioned awhile back, paper vs. plastic is not just about renewable vs. petrochemical feedstock or compostable vs. hundreds of years in the landfill. Do the math with a lifecycle assessment of both, and plastic comes out on top, and paper requires energy-intensive recycling and/or more trees. Still, according to the New York Times, "The Whole Foods decision is 'a bold move, without a doubt,' said Allen Hershkowitz, director of the municipal waste program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. He noted that Americans use 50 billion to 80 billion plastic bags a year. He acknowledged that paper bags can also harm the environment. But he described Whole Foods Market’s use of bags made from recycled paper as an environmental 'winner.'"

We tend to agree; while Whole Foods has garnered some negative press from greenies for some of its business moves, they're still a positive force in the larger world of mega-marts, factory-farmed yuckism and foods produced from the lowest bidder. Add to that 150 million fewer bags per year, and it's another step in the right direction. Now, if we could all only remember to bring our own bags. ::Whole Foods Market via ::New York Times

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