Whole Foods Market(R) to Sack Disposable Plastic Grocery Bags by Earth Day

    Grocer Encourages Use of Reusable Shopping Bags, Declaring Today 'Bring
    Your Own Bag Day'; Celebrates by Giving Away Over 50,000 Reusable Bags to
    Customers Companywide

    AUSTIN, Texas, Jan. 22 /CNW/ -- Whole Foods Market, the world's leading
natural and organic foods supermarket, announced today 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 plastic bag-free by Earth
Day, April 22, 2008.
    (Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20080122/LATU058)
    "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. 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."
    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" and will give
out over 50,000 reusable shopping bags to customers at the checkouts this
morning to celebrate today's announcement. "We hope to inspire shoppers to
prompt positive environmental change by adopting the reusable bag mindset,"
added Gallo.
    "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."
    "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. As people continue to learn more about
the impact their lifestyle has on the environment, we find they are looking
for personal solutions to global problems," 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."
    Beginning immediately, each store in the Company will work on depleting
stocks of disposable plastic grocery bags at the checkouts and will help raise
awareness about the benefits of reusable bags. Over the next three months,
stores will reduce plastic grocery bag inventories and increase selections of
reusable bags for purchase.
    Whole Foods Market has encouraged shoppers to bring their own bags for
years by offering a refund of either five or ten 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 sound
environmental choice since 80 percent of its content comes from recycled
plastic bottles and it is an economical choice as well since it costs only 99
    "Before Whole Foods Market decided to do away with 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. "The response has been incredibly positive,
and our customers are thanking us for doing this. Additionally, our Team
Members are excited and passionate about taking this initiative, and we're
finding it's created a great forum for discussion and awareness at the
checkout counters."
    Although the natural and organic grocer hopes to inspire shoppers to
bring their own reusable bags, the Company will continue to offer an
environmentally sensitive option when needed -- 100 percent recycled paper
grocery bags. 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, which also are completely recyclable.
    Discontinuing disposable plastic grocery bags at the checkouts is another
step in the Company's ongoing effort to provide more Earth-friendly bags and
containers in its stores. Recently, Whole Foods Market stores began using
all-natural fiber packaging at its 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.
    "We realize there are many more steps to take, and we recognize it's an
ongoing process to provide as much Earth-friendly packaging as possible," said
Gallo. "We will continue to evaluate each department within our stores as we
seek to continually improve."

    More information can be found at online at
    About Whole Foods Market(R)
    Founded in 1980 in Austin, Texas, Whole Foods Market
(http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com) is the world's leading natural and organic
foods supermarket and America's first national certified organic grocer. In
fiscal year 2007, the Company had sales of $6.6 billion and currently has more
than 270 stores in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. The
Whole Foods Market motto, "Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet"(TM)
captures the company's mission to find success in customer satisfaction and
wellness, employee excellence and happiness, enhanced shareholder value,
community support and environmental improvement. Whole Foods Market, Fresh &
Wild(TM), and Harry's Farmers Market(R) are trademarks owned by Whole Foods
Market IP, LP.  Wild Oats(R) and Capers Community Market(TM) are trademarks
owned by Wild Marks, Inc. Whole Foods Market employs more than 50,000 Team
Members and has been ranked for ten consecutive years as one of the "100 Best
Companies to Work For" in America by FORTUNE magazine.
    Whole Foods Market is continuing to strengthen its commitment to the
environment. Most stores participate in a composting program where food waste
and compostable paper goods are regenerated into compost. Each store has a
Green Mission Team, an internal task force composed of Team Members who inform
and improve green actions for their store. The downtown Austin store as well
as the Sarasota store are recognized for their sustainable green building
practices and are LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)
certified. Additionally, many stores serve as a collection point for shoppers
to recycle their plastic bags.  Whole Foods Market also has won the
prestigious EPA Green Power award consecutively for the past four years for
its renewable energy credit purchases.
    Contacts: Kate.Lowery@wholefoods.com - (512) 542-0390

               Ashley.Hawkins@wholefoods.com - (512) 542-0381
               Cathy.CochranLewis@wholefoods.com - (512) 542-0380

For further information:

For further information: Kate Lowery, +1-512-542-0390, 
Kate.Lowery@wholefoods.com, or Ashley Hawkins, +1-512-542-0381, 
Ashley.Hawkins@wholefoods.com, or Cathy Cochran Lewis, +1-512-542-0380, 
Cathy.CochranLewis@wholefoods.com, all of Whole Foods Market Web Site:

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