Raed Mansour via Wikimedia Commons

Our Campaigns

Tell Whole Foods: Planet Over Plastic

Goal: Get Whole Foods to put Planet Over Plastic by committing to eliminate all single-use plastic packaging.

A garbage truck worth of plastic waste enters our oceans every minute — and once there, it can injure or kill birds and marine animals such as sea turtles. A major source of this pollution? Single-use plastic packaging, like the kind that comes with the food you buy at the grocery store. In order to turn the tide on plastic pollution, we need corporations to do their part to eliminate single-use plastic packaging.

Whole Foods has long been a leader when it comes to reducing plastic pollution — it was the first U.S. grocer to eliminate plastic bags at checkout in 2008. But today, the company lags behind its competitors, and it was recently given an F for failing to tackle its plastic waste. Whole Foods customers care about the environment. Together, we’re telling Whole Foods to put planet over plastic and eliminate single-use plastic packaging from its stores.

Whole Foods scored poorly in As You Sow's report, "Waste and Opportunity 2020."
As You Sow
Plastic is flooding our oceans

Americans love the ocean: the sound of waves crashing, the smell of saltwater in the air, and the sight of seabirds darting across the sand.

That’s why the sight of a plastic food wrapper floating in the surf or washed up on the shore is distressing: That piece of plastic could end up in the stomach of a bird or sea creature.

We know that plastic pollution is a major problem for wildlife. Every year, another 8 million tons of plastic enters our oceans — the equivalent of a garbage truck dumping a load of plastic waste into the sea every minute. Once there, it is often mistaken for food and ingested by wildlife such as dolphins, turtles and seabirds, causing them to choke and even starve. Nearly 700 species of marine mammals, as wells as 50 freshwater species, are known to have ingested plastic or become entangled in it. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, full of plastic debris, sits between California and Hawaii and is now twice the size of Texas.

Plastic fragments have been found in 44% of all seabird species.
It's time to take plastic packaging off store shelves

One of the worst forms of plastic pollution is single-use plastic packaging — items that are used only once and then pollute our rivers and oceans for hundreds of years. Plastic food wrappers are the most common item of trash found on our beaches, according to the Ocean Conservancy.

Single-use plastic packaging is a glaring example of a culture that prioritizes a moment’s convenience over the health of our oceans. We don’t need it and, to protect wildlife and our ecosystems, we need to move beyond it.

Companies, such as supermarket chains, have an important role to play in the reduction of plastic trash. But while some companies have made efforts to eliminate unnecessary plastic like grocery bags and straws, the industry has generally lagged behind on tackling packaging.

Whole Foods can step up in the fight against plastic pollution by eliminating it from its stores.
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Whole Foods can take the lead

At one point, grocer Whole Foods was a prominent exception, becoming the first U.S. grocer to eliminate plastic bags at checkout in 2008 and removing plastic straws in its stores in 2019. It was an industry leader — and leaders are important because they set an example that others can follow.

But while shoppers have come to expect sustainable practices from Whole Foods, the company has recently fallen behind when it comes to tackling plastic waste, according to a 2020 report released by As You Sow.

The As You Sow report gave Whole Foods an F for its failure to adopt a comprehensive policy to reduce its plastic footprint — putting it behind other stores, such as Walmart and Kroger. Without a comprehensive plan to eliminate single-use plastics from its shelves, we believe Whole Foods is not living up to its reputation as a sustainable, environmentally conscious company. In order to turn the tide on plastic pollution, we need companies like Whole Foods to take the lead by redesigning the packaging they use.

That’s why we are calling on Whole Foods to eliminate all single-use plastic packaging from its operations. Whole Foods can once again be a leader in the national market. Smaller, regional grocers like Giant Eagle have already committed to eliminating single-use plastic by 2025. Now, we need a nationwide grocer to make a similarly bold commitment to reduce its plastic footprint and shift the industry away from this wasteful and damaging source of plastic pollution.

Baby Loggerhead Sea Turtle making its way to the ocean
Tommy Dayner via Shutterstock.com
Our oceans can't wait

Many Whole Foods customers love clean beaches and oceans and care deeply about preserving a healthy planet. Many are also aware of the damage that plastic waste wreaks on ocean ecosystems. Plastic packaging, which pollutes our planet for hundreds of years, is not on their shopping list. That’s why we know shoppers want Whole Foods to put “planet over plastic” by eliminating single-use plastic packaging items from its stores. If Whole Foods customers speak out and demand change, we know Whole Foods can deliver.

Our oceans — and the whales, dolphins and sea turtles that live in them — can’t wait. We need to turn off the tap on plastic pollution, and we can start by making sure Whole Foods puts wildlife over waste and eliminates single-use plastic packaging in its stores.