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Whole Foods: New To-Go Containers

By Jenn (TinyChoices.com) | April 8, 2008

Eatware containersA few days ago I took a lunchtime meander down to my local Whole Foods, to pick up some groceries and to-go food. And I saw that they’d replaced the stacks of plastic clamshell to-go containers with stacks of quite obviously non-plastic to-go containers! It was really exciting! Because I have no idea exactly how many of of those non-recyclable plastic containers they provided each week/month/year, but you can bet it was a jaw-dropping number– so now they’re providing a jaw-dropping number of these paper-based containers, which are, at least theoretically, compostable.  And most definitely not made from petroleum.

Surprisingly, I can’t really find any info online about this change. This is the kind of switch they could be shouting from the rooftops and leveraging to increase their green cred… so it’s kind of interesting that they’re not. We’ve all heard that, as of this month, they’re going to stop providing plastic bags at check out– but why so quiet about this other major change? On one hand, it’s still a whole lot of waste generated, and those containers are not going to compost themselves while sealed in an anaerobic landfill. On the other hand, less plastic is a good thing any which way you cut it.

I’m pretty sure these here are the containers WF is using, though, again, there’s a real dearth of online info about this :

EATware(tm) single use boxes, bowls, trays and plates represent a new concept in pulp container materials and manufacturing. Our products are 100 percent all natural, made with fibers such as bamboo, sugar cane pulp, starch and water, with no chemical additives, so they are totally decomposable and bio-degradable… EATware(tm) products decompose in soil within 180 days or will totally disperse in water within just two weeks.”

A commenter on this Inhabit post from last June said she’d noticed those containers at her local WF as of last year… so, maybe NYC is just late to the game on this one? In any case, it was a change I was glad to see. Though it really did make me wish I had a compost pile going on, so that I’d be able to test the compostibility factor for myself.

It absolutely goes without saying to shop at a local natural foods market when you can (my parents owned a health food store when I was young, and the smell of carob brings me right back)– but it’s good to know that the big megashops can pave the way with changes such as these– we’re sure to see other retailers implementing the same types of changes soon afterwards.

Topics: Food, Waste | 10 Comments »

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2008-04-08 12:30:23

Awww, of course your parents owned a health food store. How awesome! Wasn’t Bread & Circus, was it? I loved the Harnetts. Anyhoo, our WF in Washington DC has had these for about a year as well. Love that they switched. Now those plastic utensils…

Comment by Jenn
2008-04-08 17:05:50

Hah! The store was called “Natural Delights,” which is such a great name, I think! And it was around during the early years of the “health food store” movement. None of my friends had any idea what Tofutti was… and I was walking around wearing “Kiss My Face” tshirts before anyone had any idea what that meant!

Comment by Karina
2008-04-08 13:04:04

Jenn, HOW did I never know about your parents and the natural foods market? I feel like we’re just getting to know one another all over again.

Comment by Jenn
2008-04-08 17:04:26

I do not know how you did not know. :) It was from about ages 8-10 I think, it was called “Natural Delights,” and it was, astoundingly enough, located just three blocks from where I currently work, which kind of blows my mind. While other kids were drinking Motts and eating Jiffy and ice cream, we had unfiltered apple juice in glass gallon jugs, freshly-ground peanut butter, and soft-serve Tofutti with carob chips. I honestly don’t know if that period in my life had anything to do with how I turned out… once they closed the store the Tofutti was gone from our lives, but I think that whole time was pretty formative for all of us individually. I have good memories of it, even if I hated falafel until about five years ago because of it (you try living with the smell of frying falafel every other night for years!)

Comment by Karina
2008-04-08 20:50:50

my mom made lots of falafel too – but I think she baked it? so it didn’t smell as much. and yeah, so much tofutti and carob and fresh ground peanut butter. no WONDER we are co-bloggers!

Comment by roz
2008-04-08 14:20:16

my whole foods has had them for quite a while… i have to admit, i usually take one of the large cardboard soup cups to take away hot food, because those other ones start to disintegrate quickly with hot / saucey foods.

my local WF also just did away with plastic bags. they had a countdown sign outside, but they are officially done, so it’s either paper or reusable now.

i think one of the cool things about the whole foods business model is that they let each store operate a little differently, allowing it to relate better to its community. makes it feel more like you have a say in things as a customer, which is quite nice.

Comment by Jenn
2008-04-08 17:00:24

I’m wondering why it took so long for them to be introduced at the Union Square WF… but it’s great to hear that this is just biz as usual at most other locations by this point.

And for the past month or so I’ve kept asking my various WF cashiers, what are people saying about the upcoming plastic bag ban? and they all said, no one is happy about it. and I kept saying, eh, they’ll get used to it, keep the faith! :)

2008-04-08 16:24:44

My mom called me from New Orleans, WHILE at Whole Foods, just to tell me about these plates ! lol ….
So glad to see it here I was about to blog about them too :)

Comment by Jenn
2008-04-08 16:58:23

Love it! She wasted no time in spreading the word! :)

Comment by Cookie
2010-03-05 19:57:55

I buy my sugarcane containers from ecoGreenwares as their products are excellent quality, and pricing is unbeatable. They are soak proof, and can hold the hot food. Their Sugarcane Plates and Sugarcane Trays are great too.

If you don’t want to drive to Whole Foods and save some money, buy online at http://www.ecoGeenwares.com.


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