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Time to Get Rid of Plastic Grocery Bags

Suzana Megles

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Whole Foods was supposed to have banned the plastic bags from their 270 stores in the USA, Canada, and the United Kingdom by Earth Day - April 22,2008.  There are no Whole Food stores near me so I was unaware of this. If this important occurence had made national TV news (which I think it should have), I missed it.  So, I am glad that today -almost a year later I read about this on the internet site -CARE 2.

I would hope that the majority of Americans care about the environment.  I hope that the person commenting on this article who said  "Another bonehead move by the environmentalists"  belongs to the smallest of minorities.  Ditto, the man who complained because he needed them for his garbage.  These two and others of their ilk don't seem to care that 100 billion plastic bags land in our landfills each year and that it takes more than 1,000 years for a non-recyclable plastic bag to break down in a landfill.  Where is the nation-wide shudder at

this revelation?   

Whole Foods is a trendsetter even though it is tiny compared with the whole retail grocery industry.  Their early example of selling organic foods was later copied by other top supermarket chains.   I truly hope that these large chains will also follow Whole Foods in this all important environmental trend.  As A.C. Gallo, co-president and chief operating officer for Whole Foods Market said in a company press release in 2008, "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." Imagine how many billions would be kept out if all the major chains did the same.

Some forward-moving cities, states, and even countries are also trying to eliminate non-biodegradable plastic bags from their waterways and landfills.  San Francisco banned them and Oakland is considering a ban.  New York and New Jersey require retailers to recycle them and,  surprisingly, China announced a ban in  2008.

In place of the plastic bags, Whole Foods will offer free paper bags in four sizes made from 100% recycled paper, reusable bags made from 80% recycled plastic bottles for 99 cents, and canvas bags selling for $6.99 to $35.  If consumers bring their own bags--5 or 10 cents is taken off the bill for each.  Yes, more work for the person at

the cash register as well as a little inconvenience to the buyer. "Is it worth it?" And of course, for people who care about our environment, the answer has to be a resounding yes!

Lisa Mastny, editor of the World Watch Institute report opined:  "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."

And hopefully, with so many of us suffering financial reverses in this time of recession, we may yet learn what the early immigrants did--that we should only buy things we absolutely need and then take care of them.  How will this play out with our planned obsolesence economy?  Hopefully, there will be more jobs created to fix what we buy instead of throwing away because it is cheaper to do so.

Ten years ago I was perplexed to find out that I had to throw away my Mr.Coffee maker because the starter button gave way.  There was nobody to fix it or I was told it would cost more to do so, and I would be ahead buying a new one.  So, one little button and the repair know-how missing, I had to reluctantly throw away the Mr. Coffee maker which would certainly clog up the land fill more than a starter button. I thought that so sad--and telling about our throwaway society.

Yes, we became a "rich" nation, but at what cost to our environment?  And yes, we became a "rich" nation and bought and bought and bought until many of us bought ourselves into a hole.  I guess the word for that is "recession."

Authors Bio: I have been concerned about animal suffering ever since I received my first puppy Peaches in 1975. She made me take a good look at the animal kingdom and I was shocked to see how badly we treat so many animals. At 77, I've been a vegan for the past 30 years and I thank God every day that I am. I am most disturbed at how little the Catholic Church and Christian churches generally give to concern re animal suffering in their ministry. I wrote to 350 bishops in 2001 and only 10-13 responded. I feel that the very least they can do is to instruct that the priests give one sermon a year on compassion to animals. I am still waiting for that sermon. I also belong to Catholic Concern for Animals - founded in England in 1929. (They are on the internet) I recently sent a sample copy of their bi-monthly publication called the ARK to the 8 Catholic bishops of Ohio. Only ONE kindly responded. Somehow we have to reach the Christian teaching magisterium. There is next to nothing re animal concerns and compassion for them. They basically believe that animals are the lesser of God's creation and that gives us the right to do anything we want to them. Way wrong. We need to change their mindsets. The animals are God's first and He expects us to treat them compassionately.