I have been going on and on and on about this at work and it is really stuck in my head. So I’ll get it out of my system here by typing it all down for ya. Starting July 1, 2012 select Whole Foods Market stores are reducing the amount of plastic bags in their produce departments by 90%. By October 2012 all the WFM in the Pacific Northwest will be on board with the initiative.
Why? Because plastic bags are an environmental disaster. They are made from a non-renewable resource (petroleum). So when it’s gone – that’s it. And we shouldn’t be wasting petroleum making single use plastic bags when we could be making much more important things from it …like pacemakers. Plastic bags last for 500-1000 years. How do we know that? I don’t know, I am not a scientist. Most likely the bags will eventually end up in a gyre. Turtles mistake the bags for delicious jellyfish. And many other sea creatures and birds die every year from getting all tangled up in and/or ingesting our plastic garbage. Finally, plastic bags are not an item that will be recycled in curbside recycle pickup. WFM has a program to recycle plastic bags – but people do not have access to a soft plastic recycle at their homes. With this initiative WFM is fully supporting their 5th Core Value (Caring about our community and the environment).
What’s the alternative? Paper bags will be stocked in place of plastic. Paper isn’t the best option – but it is better than plastic since it is compostable and recyclable. Plus, paper bags are aerobic … anaerobic? Both… whatever. What I am trying to tell you is that paper lets your produce breathe — instead of rotting your leafy greens right away, like plastic bags do. There is also the option of those reusable mesh bags. And you can always bring in your own bag. But the very best option would be not to use a bag at all. I don’t ever take a bag. I just jam everything into my purse. It always works out fine….Oh, except for that one time I bought an ice cream sandwich…that did not work out ideally. But we were talking about produce….so let’s get back on track here.
The objective? To make people think before they just grab for plastic bags that they don’t need. Why do people even use plastic bags for things like oranges? That doesn’t make sense. Oranges, bananas, lemons, limes, grapefruits, etc already come in their own packaging – A PEEL! And people should really rinse their produce before eating it anyhow. That apple was shipped in a dusty box and handled by six hundred other people before you decided to buy it. Putting it in a plastic bag does nothing to help the situation. This ridiculous plastic bag overuse is just people being lazy and not questioning the methods that were put in place while they were growing up.
Why not a complete elimination of plastic? Because we still want plastic bags available for some items. Wet lettuce + paper bags = unhappy outcome. Also, people would LOSE THEIR MINDS! Seriously. What about those old ladies and obsessive compulsive people that wrap every item separately in a plastic bag? Imagine if we just snatched all plastic bags away from them overnight? They might get all foamy and stroke out. I don’t want that on my conscience. So we will still cater to those crazies a little….for now. Change is hard, it doesn’t have to be. But humans seem to make it their business to throw a pointless fuss over every little thing. So…..plastic is still going to be available. But I’m gonna make you walk all the way across the whole produce department to find it.
We’ve already done this: On Earth Day, 2008 Whole Foods Market eliminated plastic bags at the checkout. We replaced ’em with paper. Sure people were fussy; but it all worked out. Remember when you were growing up and all grocery stores only had paper bags at the checkout? And those ones didn’t even have handles! You had to carry one bag at a time in from the car and it took forever! We are so spoiled now. Sure the paper bags don’t last as well as the plastic – but they don’t need to. We’re only using them to go from the store to the car and from the car to the house. Does that take 500-1000 years? Probably not. Nobody needs a bag to last that long.
Any questions? They can probably be answered by looking at this picture of a gyre. But if the gyre can’t answer your questions, I can.
During the first meeting about this upcoming initiative the only notes I took said: PLASTIC BAGS ARE FOR JERKS! That’s really all you need to know. Bring on the change.
Also – spend 4 minutes watching this amazing video: The Majestic Plastic Bag. It is packed with lots of interesting facts. And Jeremy Irons is awesome.