AUSTIN, Texas (April 3, 2002) Disposable or recyclable? Styrofoam, plastic or paper? Organic? Non-toxic? Today, millions of people are concerned about the environment. While complicated issues such as global warming, forest preservation and toxic waste may be too much for one person to solve alone, it is easy for consumers to make a difference by incorporating simple changes and conscious choices during routine activities such as shopping.
“A consumer's simple act of buying products that help preserve natural resources and contribute to responsible and sustainable growth is extremely powerful. When consumers choose environmentally friendly alternatives with their dollars, it sends a clear message to companies,” said Betsy Foster, Vice President of Purchasing for Whole Foods Market. “We believe many of our customers regularly seek out opportunities to help better the environment.”
In honor of Earth Day on April 22nd, Whole Foods Market, the world's largest natural and organic supermarket, suggests these ten simple earth-friendly tips to think “green” not only on Earth Day but every day of the year.
- Buy organic products. Organic foods set the standard for top quality freshness, texture, flavor and variety. Produced without potentially harmful, environmentally persistent agricultural, organic agriculture helps restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony. It also replenishes and maintains healthy, fertile topsoil with rich biological matter to prevent erosion into waterways. Additionally, unusual varieties of crops and livestock are more likely to be raised organically, which helps to keep the gene pool diversified for food products. And also, organic foods taste great!
- Buy locally grown or produced foods. Studies show the average produce travels more than 1,500 miles from farm to plate. Regionally or locally grown items, however, taste just as delicious and are often fresh-picked, probably within the past day or two. Buying local also helps to support independent, family local farmers, many of whom consider themselves good stewards of the land.
- Purchase foods in bulk. From a tablespoon of sunflower seeds to 50 pounds of whole wheat flour, a vast array of items are available for sale in bulk bins. Why buy in bulk? First, it reduces unnecessary product packaging. And second, bulk foods allow consumers to choose as much — or as little — of an item, thereby preventing spoilage or waste.
- Make the best environmental choices when purchasing seafood. In recent years, seafood has been touted as a healthy food source that should be incorporated into everyday diets. At the same time, the majority of the world's marine stocks are fully fished, over exploited, depleted or recovering at a slow rate. As more people enjoy seafood, it is critical that sustainable, environmentally responsible fishing practices are followed to replenish what is taken from the oceans. Whether purchasing wild caught or farm-raised fish and seafood, ask if it comes from a reputable, environmentally sound source. Whole Foods Market actively seeks out fisheries practicing sustainable fishing to help ensure supplies will be abundant for generations to come. In addition, the company owns and operates a well-managed, eco-friendly fishing facility and processing plant located right on the waterfront in Gloucester, Mass., to secure the freshest, highest quality catch available.
- Pack a waste-free lunch. Starting with a reusable container or bag, pack a daily lunch that will not produce any trash or waste. Replace the clear plastic bags or aluminum foil with washable, reusable containers with lids. Instead of a single-use can or carton, pour a drink into a reusable insulated container to keep it cold and fresh. Silverware (or heavy duty plastic ware) and cloth napkins, which can be brought home and washed, can be used instead of disposable utensils and napkins. Don't forget to pack a piece of organically grown fruit; the only “trash” produced is its naturally decomposing apple core or orange peels!
- Reuse grocery bags. When shopping, bring reusable canvas bags or reuse paper or plastic bags from a recent trip to the grocery store. Whole Foods Market offers a nickel-per-bag refund at all of its stores to encourage this earth-friendly habit.
- Purchase products made from and packaged in recycled materials. Reduce, reuse, recycle. While recycling items has become commonplace, its success is not determined solely by the amount of materials recycled but also by the amount reused in new products. Buying items made from or packaged with recycled materials allows consumers to “close the loop,” creating a market for items recycled curbside or in other recycling programs. It reduces the volume of materials sent to landfills and conserves energy and natural resources.
- Minimize use of disposable goods. Purchasing products that can be reused or refilled decrease waste. Consider purchasing refillable razors, rechargeable batteries, refillable pens and even toothbrushes with replaceable heads. Think durability!
- Choose earth-friendly household cleaners — or make your own. In the cleaning product aisle, even well intentioned consumers can end up at a confused standstill. Determining ingredients of cleaning products can be a guessing game, as law does not require disclosure. One option is to choose household cleaning products from companies who use environmentally friendly, non-toxic ingredients safe for both a home and the environment. A second option is to create your own cleaning agents from ingredients known to be safe. Formulas containing vinegar, baking soda and borax will clean most of the house. To make laundry and dish soaps, add washing soda and soap flakes to the list. See addendum for more information on making “green” household cleaners.
- Read labels on household paper products. Purchase items such as paper towels and toilet paper that contain post-consumer content. This means recycled paper – not trees – was used to make the item. Its post-consumer content is the best measure of a product's impact on the environment. Paper products with a high post-consumer waste content use less virgin pulp and keep more waste paper out of landfills. Also, many paper products are bleached with chlorine, including some made of recycled fibers. After paper is bleached with chlorine, wastes discharged by paper mills contain dioxins, which don't easily break down and accumulate in our air, water, and soil over time.
Whole Foods Market, Eco-Friendly Companies Offer Savings on Earth Day
Make every day Earth Day by choosing eco-friendly products. Whole Foods Market, Stonyfield Farm, Seventh Generation, Recycline and Kiss My Face are companies offering natural, recycled, and organic products. All are joining together for Earth Day 2002 to educate consumers and to offer savings.
At selected Whole Foods Market stores during the month of April, consumers can redeem coupons for national brands dollar-for-dollar toward the purchase of earth-friendly products from these companies. For more information, visit https://www.stonyfield.com/. In addition, the site offers coupons valued at more than $30 on eco-friendly products. Participating companies include:
, who supports more than 80 organic dairy farms to produce its organic yogurt, thereby reducing the amount of persistent toxic pesticides released into the environment.
, who produces recycled paper products and nontoxic cleansers, saving more than 760,000 gallons of petroleum – enough to drive a car for almost 20 million miles.
, who manufactures the Preserve® Toothbrush with recycled Stonyfield Farm yogurt cups, has recycled almost 500,000 yogurt cups into useful new products.
Kiss My Face
, who manufactures natural health and beauty products without the use of animal ingredients.
Editor's Note: Whole Foods Market can provide a spokesperson, arrangements for store tours, product samples and trend round-up stories in addition to chef-created recipes. Call the contacts above to arrange.