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AUSTIN, Texas -- Whole Foods Market here has made an Earth Day pledge: it aims to 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. by Earth Day, April 22, 2008.
"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," said A.C. Gallo, co-president and c.o.o. of the world's leading natural and organic foods supermarket chain, in a statement. "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."
Whole Foods claims to be the first U.S. supermarket to commit to completely eliminating disposable plastic grocery bags, although many other grocers are now offering earth-friendly, reusable bags as alternatives for shoppers who don't want to use plastic.
Whole Foods declared yesterday "Bring Your Own Bag Day" and said it would give out over 50,000 reusable shopping bags to customers at the checkouts.
The chain has encouraged shoppers to bring their own bags for years by offering a refund of either five or 10 cents at the checkouts, depending on the store. The company also sells different types of reusable bags, ranging from canvas to its new large, stylish "A Better Bag" -- a bag made primarily of recycled plastic bottles that costs 99 cents.
Whole Foods said it will continue to offer 100 percent recycled paper grocery bags.