Encourages reusables Company set goal of being plastic grocery bag-free by earth day Mrs. Kate Lowery, spokesperson for Whole Foods shares the Good News. Whole Foods Market is announcing today that its stores will be plastic grocery bag free at the checkouts of its 270 stores in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. by this Earth Day (April 22, 2008). The Company declares today Bring Your Own Bag Day to raise awareness about the positive impact reusing grocery bags can have on the planet. By eliminating plastic grocery bags, Whole Foods Market is reiterating its commitment to its core value of caring for our communities and our environment. Did you know? Whole Foods Market, the world’s leading natural and organic foods supermarket and the FIRST U.S. retailer to announce it is doing away with disposable plastic grocery bags at the checkouts entirely. Plastic shopping bags were introduced in the late 1970s polymers of every single plastic bag ever produced still exist on our planet. (source: Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and The Environmental Protection Agency) It takes more than 1,000 years for a plastic bag to break down in a landfill and as they break down, plastic bags go through photodegradationbreaking down into smaller and smaller toxic particles that contaminate both soil and water, and end up entering the food chain when animals accidentally ingest them. (source: environment.about.com) Roughly 430,000 gallons of crude oil are used to produce 100 million plastic bags, and in the U.S. alone, about 100 billion plastic bags are thrown away each year (and only 0.6 % of them are recycled). Plastic grocery bag facts Introduced in the late 1970s as an alternative to paper bags, plastic bags now account for four out of every five bags handed out at grocery stores. Americans throw away about 100 billion plastic bags annually, and only 0.6 percent of them are recycled. When they are discarded, which is often after one use, plastic bags fill landfills, clog our sewers, pollute our rivers and lakes, threaten our wildlife, and litter our roadsides and communities. Plastic bags not only endanger wildlife by polluting land and water but also pose an environmental threat, as some plastic bags can take more than 1,000 years for a plastic bag to break down in a landfill. Countries that have introduced bans or taxes on non-biodegradable, petroleum-based plastic bags include China, Ireland, Italy, Thailand, Australia, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and South Africa and others such as Santa Monica, Calif., New Haven, Conn., Annapolis, Md., and Portland, Ore. are considering it. In New York City , a bill recently overwhelmingly passed requiring large stores and retail chains to collect and recycle plastic bags they give to shoppers. It takes roughly 430,000 gallons of crude oil to produce 100 million plastic bags. With groups like the Worldwatch Institute estimating that Americans discard as many 100 billion plastic bags each year, we’re talking about using tens of millions of gallons of crude annually just to tote our groceries home. At least 267 different species are known to have suffered from entanglement or ingestion of marine debris, and plastics and other synthetic materials cause the most problems for marine animals and birds. Every year, tens of thousands of whales, birds, seals, and turtles die from contact with ocean-borne plastic bags. The animals may mistake the bags for food, such as jellyfish, or simply become entangled. Disposable bags are among the top ten items found routinely during coastal cleanups, according to the nonprofit Ocean Conservancy. Each bag shoppers bring in to use has the potential to eliminate an average of 1,000 plastic bags over its lifetime.