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Whole Foods Markets Will Phase Out Plastic Bags by Earth Day

AUSTIN, Texas, January 21, 2008 (ENS) – Whole Foods Market announced today that it will end the use of disposable plastic grocery bags at the checkouts in all of its 270 stores in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. with the goal to be free of plastic bags by Earth Day, April 22, 2008.

“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,” Gallo said.

The first U.S. supermarket to commit to completely eliminating disposable plastic grocery bags to help protect the environment and conserve resources, Whole Foods Market has declared today “Bring Your Own Bag Day.

The company gave out 50,000 reusable shopping bags to customers at the checkouts this morning to celebrate the announcement. “We hope to inspire shoppers to prompt positive environmental change by adopting the reusable bag mindset,” said Gallo.

“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,” he said.

“Doing away with plastic grocery bags won’t just help protect marine life, it’s a key move in shifting us away from a ‘consume-and-dispose’ mentality,” says Lisa Mastny, editor of the Worldwatch Institute report “Oceans in Peril.”

“Disposable plastic bags can linger in the environment for more than 1,000 years and are the major debris item found on the seabed, especially near the coast,” she said.

“During our International Coastal Cleanup each year, our volunteers find hundreds of thousands of bags on beaches and in the ocean posing a threat to birds, turtles and other marine life,” said Laura Capps, senior vice president of communications and outreach with Ocean Conservancy.

“We applaud Whole Foods Market for encouraging their customers to bring re-usable bags when shopping and for making better stewardship of our environment a part of their everyday lives,” said Capps.

“Before Whole Foods Market decided to do away with this disposable plastic grocery bags at our checkouts, we ran tests in San Francisco, Toronto and Austin. Customers have overwhelmingly supported the plastic bag ban initiated by Whole Foods Market in these cities and applauded the progressive stance the stores have taken,” said Gallo.

Although the company hopes to inspire shoppers to bring their own reusable bags, 100 percent recycled paper grocery bags will still be offered at checkout.

Last year, Whole Foods Market became the first and only food retailer in North America to offer these recycled paper grocery bags made with 100 percent recycled fiber content.

Whole Foods Market stores have begun using all-natural fiber packaging at salad and food bars. The fibers for the new containers come from plants that are cultivated or grow wild and are harvested annually. Additionally, the company continues to seek alternatives to plastic bags in its bulk, produce, bakery and seafood departments.

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