talking my way out of a Whole Foods paper bag

Dear Whole Foods,

My name is Lev Zhurbin, and I’m a dad of two boys, living on the Upper West Side with my wife.
We shop at Whole Foods often — it’s very convenient for us – and we find that the prices, for the most part, are reasonable — some items are more expensive, and some are cheaper than a competing super market – but overall, the quality is much better.  And you make the best diapers.

However, I take issue with the lack of plastic bags available at the register.  I am not a packaging advocate, and if there were such a choice, I wouldn’t use any bags at all.

You have to realize, that unlike most other places where Whole Foods operates stores, the overwhelming majority of Manhattan customers, like myself, do not drive. We either walk, take public transportation, push a stroller, or bike. We do not wheel a shopping cart into a parking lot and stack our bags into a trunk.  In that we don’t drive, Whole Foods shoppers in Manhattan are already a lot more “green” than others nationwide.

Whole Food Market’s insistence on paper bags place Manhattan customers at a disadvantage.

Here’s why:
— the handles of a paper bag routinely break – especially if you’re holding more than one in the same hand.
— paper bags get wet in the rain. If you are walking home from Whole Foods on a rainy day, your products will get wet and ruined.
— if you put a paper bag onto a wet surface, while waiting for a bus, or on a slushy subway platform, the products will also get ruined

In contrast:
— you can use plastic bags to take out the trash — and save on buying other “garbage” bags. they are small enough to go down the compactor (trash) chute with a whole day’s trash.
— plastic bags can be used to pack up liquid waste, household dust, and other products.
— plastic bags can be cinched up pretty tight at the top.
— plastic bags are smaller, more durable, and have more uses.  As such, plastic bags are more reusable than paper.

Yes, the reusable bags you sell are fine – but they are also bulky, and I would not want to walk around with them all day, just to make a trip to Whole Foods on the way home.

I urge you to consider giving Manhattan customers the option, and offer plastic bags at your checkout registers.  Paper or plastic should be a choice. (Trader Joe’s offers just that.)


Lev Zhurbin

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