This Is Why Whole Foods Doesn't Use Plastic Bags

If you are a fan of Whole Foods, the upscale supermarket that has earned itself the nickname of "Whole Paycheck," per Fast Company, then you are probably aware that plastic bags are nowhere to be found at the checkouts. Instead, shoppers bring their own bags or use the hallmark "guilt-free" paper bags the store provides. But Whole Foods hasn't always used this option. It, too, was once part of the grocery store retailers who provided single-use plastic bags. What made this supermarket stop using them?

The first Whole Foods store made its appearance in Austin, Texas in 1980, according to the company's website. Since then, it has built a reputation on being environmentally conscious, and its efforts have even earned the grocery retailer an A- with the Better World Shopper community, an organization which has graded over 2,000 companies on their environmental practices. To wit, the chain continuously looks for ways to decrease its environmental footprint and eliminating the use of plastic bags is part of that effort. In fact, Whole Foods was the first grocery store to make this jump.

Eliminating plastic bags spoke to Whole Foods' core values

Whole Foods co-president and chief operating officer A.C. Gallo cited the retailer's core values and commitment to its communities and the environment for the decision, saying in an announcement released on Earth Day 2008, "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." Gallo went on to explain that this commitment would help reduce Whole Foods' environmental impact by keeping "100 million new plastic grocery bags out of our environment between Earth Day and the end of this year alone."

Single-use plastic bags are not good for the environment. According to Pew Trusts, approximately "13 million metric tons of plastic ends up in the ocean each year" and it can take more than a century to decompose. So, in 2008, Whole Foods became the first grocery retailer to cease using these bags. Since then, other retailers have followed suit. In some cases, states like Virginia have imposed a tax on plastic bags (via FFX Now), while, per Earth 911, retailers like Costco and IKEA have joined Whole Foods and entirely stopped using single-use plastic bags at checkouts.