Whole Foods Has One Word for You: Paper

Starting this Earth Day — April 20 — you will no longer have the choice of paper or plastic at Whole Foods. It’ll be paper, unless you’re one of those too-good-to-be-true types who can remember to bring your own reusable string bag. Yes, the world’s largest natural foods retailer, which operates nearly 300 stores in the U.S. and the United Kingdom, is doing away with plastic entirely.

“Central
to Whole Foods Market’s core values is caring for our communities and the
environment, and this includes adopting wise environmental practices,”
said A.C. Gallo, co-president and chief operating officer for Whole Foods
Market. “
More and more cities
and countries are beginning to place serious restrictions on single-use plastic
shopping bags since they don’t break down in our landfills, can harm
nature by clogging waterways and endangering wildlife, and litter our
roadsides.
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.”

 

Now, just between the two of us, I’m ambivalent. I love the earth, don’t get me wrong. And I think chucking plastic is a bold, leadership-y sort of move. But I have a few concerns.

One: Did you see the movie An Inconvenient Truth? (I swear, I’m going somewhere with this.) Here was Al Gore, talking about the devastation of our natural resources, droning on and on about it, getting up on rickety ladders with pointers at his own peril. . . .And WHERE was he every single time he was not standing in front of an audience in this film? He was on a gas-guzzling airplane, that’s where. The man was flying all over the world to tell people about the problems of global warming, burning probably 11 times his share of fossil fuels, when he could have sent out an e-presentation and been done with it. But that wouldn’t have made such as splash with film producers, I guess. So let’s look at the practices of the people at Whole Foods. They, like all other monstrous grocers, assume that all people everywhere should have access to all foods. So we here in Minnesota should be eating cheese from Italy and chocolate from Venezuela and kumquats from Florida. And how is all this food getting to us? Well, it’s coming by truck and airplane mostly (hardly ever by ship, especially from Florida), polluting madly as it rides the roads and skies. So I guess what I’m saying is, where’s the consistency here?

Two: Every time we make some big sea change in our habits, it seems, we find that instead of helping the environment, we’re actually further degrading it. You never know what the sly, lurking problem will be. Use cloth diapers because you think the plastic ones are evil? Shame on you. What a waste of water, one of our most precious earthly gifts! Gas up with ethanol much? Turns out you’re both decimating the earth by promoting the over-growth of corn and demolishing sweet little family farms. So what’s going to come next, I wonder? Some report that links reusable cloth bags to a dangerous rise in cotton spores that form an impenetrable cover over our planet and seal greenhouse gases in. . . .I don’t know about you, but I’m just waiting to find out what havoc is wreaked by Whole Foods’ decision to bag the plastic.

Three: OK, you’ve been waiting for the selfish reason, right? — what am I going to use to carry my sweaty workout clothes home from the gym? At my house, every Whole Foods, Target, and other plastic bag gets recycled in some way. Only once, I grant you, but there are viable uses for these things. Throwing away juicy pineapple cores (I know, I should be composting, give me a break); picking up dog poop. The ways in which we use plastic bags are endless!

I’m actually serious here. We consumers will have to figure out other methods for doing, carrying, and disposing of the things we’ve always wrapped in plastic bags. And I’m not sure this is a bad development but it may turn out to be, well. . . .inconvenient. At least for a while.

By the way, in addition to a ritual bag-shedding, Whole Foods at Calhoun’s other Earth Day-related events include:

Just for Kids: Spring In to Gardening – FREE

Noon-1
p.m.

Kids
can get ready for spring by planting their own plant. They will get your own
dirt, seeds, and a recycled container to plant them. Kids can take their plant
home, add some sun and a bit of water and watch it grow!

Greening Your Home with Kel Heyl

2-3
p.m. lecture

This
lecture will walk people through the steps for greening their home. Greening is
more energy-efficient, healthier for you and
healthier for the planet. A basic kitchen will be used as a case study
and a stairways approach will be used to examine costs. There will also be time
to have questions answered and you will leave with an excellent list of
resources for greener design, consulting and building services and some local
vendors of green products. Kel Heyl is a certified building designer and Minnesota licensed
building contractor. His company, Studio Rebus Incorporated, has had a strong green
offering for more than three years. For more information, visit studiorebus.com

 

Composting 101

3:15-4
p.m.

Are
you aware that the U.S.
waste stream is comprised of more than 25 percent food and yard scraps? Home
composting is a great solution! This class on the basics will help people
get started by teaching the acceptable materials and the benefits of this great
natural process!