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Reusable bags increasing in popularity

One year after Whole Foods Market became the first U.S. supermarket to eliminate disposable plastic grocery bags at all of its store checkouts, the Company announces that it has seen the amount of reusable bag use triple and that the natural and organic grocer has kept an estimated 150 million plastic bags out of landfills since last Earth Day.

"At first we wondered if shoppers would just switch to paper but to our great surprise, people have been truly excited about using reusable bags," said A.C. Gallo, Co-president and Chief Operating Officer for Whole Foods Market. "I think Whole Foods Market has also helped that along by offering various versions of stylish, affordable 99 cent bags that have become quite popular - our shoppers have been inspired to make a positive environmental change and have really incorporated the reusable bag mindset into their daily lives. Eliminating plastic bags was definitely the right move at the right time."

In an effort to help protect the environment and conserve resources, Whole Foods Market decided last Earth Day to eliminate plastic bags, a move that aimed to protect nature and wildlife and reduce litter by encouraging customers to bring reusable bags when they shop for groceries.

"During Ocean Conservancy's 2008 International Coastal Cleanup, 1.4 million plastic bags were found littering our oceans, lakes and rivers," said Dianne Sherman, Director of the International Coastal Cleanup. "Trash travels. Even if we live thousands of miles inland, our actions have a profound effect on the ocean. A bag can blow from a picnic table, wash down a storm drain into a river and wind up harming or killing a sea turtles, birds or other marine life. Trash is one of the most pervasive - but solvable -- pollution problems facing our oceans and waterways. Whole Foods Market and their customers are demonstrating how simple lifestyle changes can make a sea change."

Whole Foods Market sells a variety of reusable bags, ranging from "A Better Bag" - 79 and 99 cents, depending on size - with 80 percent of its content coming from recycled plastic bottles and currently featuring a Sheryl Crow-created charcoal sketch of a tree to the $29.99 cotton and burlap FEED 100 bag. A FEED bag purchase helps provide 100 nutritious lunches to hungry Rwandan school children through the United Nations World Food Program's School Feeding Program. The Company also offers a refund of either five or 10 cents at the checkouts, depending on the store, to shoppers who bring their own bags.

Whole Foods Market continually evaluates each department to find ways to improve packaging efforts. The Company is currently seeking alternatives to plastic bags in its bulk, produce, bakery and seafood departments and is working with vendors to eliminate Styrofoam packaging in shipments. In 2007, Whole Foods Market introduced all-natural fiber packaging at its salad and food bars that comes from plants that grow wild or are cultivated and harvested annually.

Source: Whole Foods Market 

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