Whole Foods saves plastic, the environment

Australia did it. Bangladesh did it. China is in the process of doing it. Not that we’d jump off a bridge if they did it too, but they may be on to something — more specifically, getting greener by eliminating plastic bags from their supermarkets.

The Whole Foods Market chain has caught on. Starting Apr. 22, the specialty market will ban plastic bags from all 270 of its stores nationwide, eliminating the estimated 150 million plastic bags that the company distributes each year.

Stores in a host of other countries, including Ireland, France, Germany, England, and South Africa, as well the city of San Francisco and all Ikea stores nationwide, charge customers a fee for each plastic bag they use at check-out, in hopes of curbing excessive bag use and encourage patrons to bring reusable bags when they shop. Whole Foods had a better idea — instead of charging customers money for plastic bags, why not save both companies and consumers money — and the environment — by eliminating them all together?

To some, Whole Foods’ decision may look like a tactic aimed at getting shoppers to purchase reusable canvas bags, which they sell in their stores. However, Whole Foods is continuing to offer the standard free paper bags, which are made from recycled paper. Therefore, the company is still offering customers freedom of choice and providing a free alternative in the absence of plastic bags, while doing a service to the environment.

We applaud Whole Foods for implementing a pollution solution that benefits the company, its customers, and the environment. With local supermarket chains like Giant Eagle following suit and offering reusable bags for purchase in all of its stores, in addition to the already-available plastic bags, we hope that “Paper or plastic?” will become a question of the past.