Bagging Plastic

Whole Foods, a grocery store with enough business brio that it has become a model for other retailers, is quitting plastic bags.

As of Earth Day, Apr. 22, the national chain will no longer offer plastic bags to customers at the checkout counter. The company says its action will remove 100 million new bags from circulation by the end of the year.

Washington Post Staff Writer Jane Black wrote an essay in the Food section Wednesday taking a look at the retailing trend.

Black writes: "In 2002, Ireland instituted a 15-cent tax on plastic bags to end the "litter menace," and Bangladesh banned them outright. This year, China and Australia will outlaw them. Here at home, San Francisco has begun requiring shops to use only bags made of at least 40 percent recycled paper."

Getting rid of plastic is an environmentally good idea, but Whole Foods still will offer patrons paper bags and that of course has a host of other environmental issues. However, the company is encouraging customers to bring in recycled totes, usually emblazoned with the company logo.

Whole Foods will be the first national grocery chain to take this stand and if others follow, it will take some cultural re-learning to go without. When I frequent Whole Foods to buy cartons of yogurt tubes my kids seem to consume by the truckload, I often forget my fabric totes in the midst of juggling toddlers. Now I keep the bags in my car and end up using them for a variety of stores.

What about you, Small Business readers and retailers - do you see a need to champion an alternative to plastic bags? Are you considering offering shoppers environmentally friendly bags from your distributor to stay ahead of this trend?

By Sharon McLoone |  February 6, 2008; 4:40 PM ET
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

We (R. Nichols) are a stationery company that decided we wanted to do something to help sustainability. We began by reducing waste within our business processes but decided since we have all these customers maybe we could help spread the word on a greater level. So we developed 4 recycled grocery totes with our designs printed on the sides of the totes. The response from our customers has been outstanding. By creating this product we have encouraged customers to change their thoughts on plastic bags. It has been so rewarding to provide a product that helps the earth. We really feel that merchants/retailers have a responsibility to embrace sustainability. It many cases we are the largest users of resources. We also can guide consumers to products that are more environmentally friendly but simply making more environmentally based choices in our products and practices.

Posted by: Anda Lucia Ariail | February 7, 2008 12:08 PM

Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment will be launching a reusable campaign in March 2008 to encourage local residents to take their own bags with them whenever they shop. We'll be distributing bags with our new logo and helping local retailers spread the word among their customers. You can get involved in this effort at

Posted by: Margaret Kertess | February 8, 2008 8:23 PM


Posted by: BELINDA | February 12, 2008 12:43 PM

i do not take bags with my purchases anywhere i shop now.

Posted by: todd sanders | February 14, 2008 12:39 AM

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