Thursday, April 10, 2008
Today’s ‘Grab Bag’ on The Whole Foods’ Greenwashing- Campaign
Some little known facts that the average consumer should know, but probably doesn’t…
While there may be some debate on the environmental benefits of Paper V Plastic Bags, see here and here (I know, don’t yawn) I intend to showcase some of the lesser known facts in this debate, such as:
Paper bags are a hidden tax on the consumer, I pinged a grocery store purchase manager in regard to the additional cost to switch from plastic bags to paper bags. According to my source, plastic bags cost about 1 cent per bag. Paper bags without handles cost more than 6 cents per bag. The outfit for whom he works has a few less than 150 stores, and he says it would cost them an additional $14,642,600 dollars to convert to paper bags. Whole Foods has 270 stores. You do the math, and guess who pays? And you wondered why shoppers call it ‘Whole Paycheck’?
Speaking of their well earned moniker, SLATE Magazine ran a story entitled ‘The Dark Secrets of Whole Foods’ which suggests that even the socially conscious media can’t resist labeling Whole Foods "Whole Paycheck" and "wholesome, healthy for the wholesome, wealthy"— while detailing why WALMART, yes, WALMART may be the bigger democratizing force in bringing organic food to the masses. In other words, nothing that we didn’t already know (do you detect a slight bias towards lower prices, you’re right).
Even granola crunching left wing media bias seems to suggest that there are doubts among the faithful:
The Georgetowner’s (Epitome of Upper Crust, Left Wing Bluebloods – in other words, Whole Foods’ Target Demographic) Online edition posted the first week of March included the following little gem.
Beware of Green Band Aids By Claire Sanders Swift
In these “super green” times, if people and businesses want to make the world a betterplace, they’d better start paying attention to the real facts behind the flashy marketingcampaigns and put their resources into proven long term solutions. Case in point: the “evil”plastic bags being “bagged” in Whole Foods’latest campaign are being replaced with “100%”recyclable and “recycled” paper bags. No matter how good this sounds, it is misleading.
Presenting paper packaging as the answer to our lifelong environmental woes is a short termband-aid to a long term problem. Americans consume more than 10 billion paper bags each year (according to the Wash Post.). But those paper bags came from some 14 million trees, which are cut down annually for paper bag production.
Environmentalists argue that these are renewable resources. Are all these trees replanted? And not all paper bags are necessarily made from “100%” recycled paper in the fi rst place either. A new study claims paper bags generate more greenhouse gasses,will consume more energy and pollution anduse more fossil fuels than plastic bags. And the EPA says paper bags have about the samechance of getting recycled as the plastic bags out there now.
And they may not even get recycled in the first place. If a recyclable product is tainted with food, paper or plastic, it goesstraight to the dump.
And what happens at the dump is surprising too. Paper doesn’t deteriorate like we thinkit does many times. Garbage expert William Rathje, founder of
According to the EPA, the “current research demonstrates that paper in today’slandfills does not degrade or break down at a substantially faster rate than plastic does. Infact, nothing completely degrades in modernlandfill due to the lack of water, light, oxygen,and other important elements that are necessary for the degradation process to be completed.”
Over the years billions of dollars have been spent designing campaigns for recycling.Through all the hoopla and fanfare the hard truth is, it’s expensive to recycle and takes serious effort from start to finish. It requires resources (real money), clean products and communitycommitment to get recyclables from their recycling bins to their actual recycling destinationsand back to the consumer. It’s a serious, smart effort by the community that goes past the campaigning.
Bottom line? Don’t assume that the “100% recyclable paper bags” or the “green” stamp ofapproval is the answer to our world’s energy and environmental problems. Instead of “stompingout”, or “banning” or “bagging” for short term solutions like paper packaging, real efforts needto be spent on researching and implementing creative ways of reducing, reusing or recyclingfrom beginning to end to get where we need to go.