Blog Widget by LinkWithin

« We Love Jam: Small Company Finds Sustainable Packaging Solution | Main | FTC Green Guide Packaging Forum »

May 01, 2008


Robert Foster

Fascinating story - I'm not surprised Whole Foods would try to keep this under rap though - probably because they are afraid their design would be copied by the Chinese. When China is involved it gets interesting - I do business over there.

That said we're talking about something that should help us all so I agree this is the type of thing you share, not hide. great job with the story though.


This is incredible. I am outraged. I shop a Whole Foods specifically because I know they take care in securing fish and meats from practices that are humane... and now this. I've been to China and seen these kinds of factories and they are anything but humane. I'm disgusted and feel utterly betrayed!

Cynthia Barnes

I just got this story in my google reader today and my stomach dropped a mile. We had to return so many of my daughter's toys with lead paint and now this! I can't believe that a company like whole foods would be so insensitive. I'm really scared to trust any of these companies anymore. I thought Whole Foods was different.


I'd be interested in knowing more about the manufacturing process, in particular if the plant(s) producing the bags has a good environmental record. The benefits of producing a green product seem dampened if the producer pollutes like crazy. In general, I feel conflicted about any product from China, as it feels like I'm contributing to a super-heated economy that is ahead of itself as far as environmental regulations are concerned. I'm sure other consumers must feel the same way.

Meanwhile, I'll bring my own canvas bags to Whole Foods.


Well I mean my understanding is that none of these Chinese plants have a great record for either the environment or labor... I mean China builds a new coal plant every 7 minutes, so we know for a fact these bags are fueling global warming.


China is Ok! Why does everyone pick on China? China isn't the problem they are just catering to all the ridiculous needs of Americans!!!!

Adam C.

Great timing there is a story in today's New York Times on Child labor violations in Guangdong province in Shenzhen and Dongguan maybe people will start to wake up!


This article is a bit alarmist. I understand the frustration of being left hanging after getting special exception for an interview. However, assuming that Whole Foods is doing something shady isn't finding the most likely explanation. It's jumping to an exciting conclusion. The real reason is probably much more mundane.

It's not uncommon for corporations to refuse to disclose information about an ongoing project. If they're having a supply issue, it could mean that they're altering the design, the manufacturing process, or have to switch to a different vendor: all valid reasons to indefinitely keep that information confidential.

Mark Charles

Give me a break Whole Foods. Why wouldn't you want to showcase the good work your people are doing? As a shopper at your stores I'd like to know why you won't talk about this? Whats to hide its a reusable bag for god sake and a cool looking on at that????? I'm a graphic designer who does work for companies as well and I love to show off my designs and work. I just think this whole thing is stupid and your actions raise more questions.


Thanks for the info….I am trying to put together a list of what celebs are doing to help the environment. Ed Begley Jr. is having a sweepstakes where he flys you to Hollywood and gives you tips on how to go green ( ) Pretty crazy stuff. Obviously there are many others. Drop me a link if you have any on the top of your head. Thanks again for the info!


The article is not quite so alarmist as some of the comments. The bags clearly state 'Made in China' (as does just about everything you'd buy for $.99 in America). If Charrmy is the manufacturer of the bags and they're publishing the information on their site, though, then they are likely in breach of a contract w/ Whole Foods, which tends to try to maintain a strong competitive edge with their suppliers. That alone may be the cause for the delay and refusal of story.

Many Whole Foods stores I'm aware of also provide 'Made in America', all-natural canvas bags for about 1300% more if you're concerned with the environmental impact of Chinese manufactured goods. Or you could be personally responsible and make your own bags out of old disposable plastic bags, t-shirts, and other materials.


Excellent work tracking down the story behind the bag.

Whole Foods use of recycled material in their bag and their efforts to encourage reusable bags is commendable. But I'm not so crazy about the glorification of the reusable bag -- i.e., buy your way to sustainability.

What I'd like to see is some sort of 'gathering of unused bags.' Some people probably have a few bags in closets from trade shows, conferences or other events that they aren't using (even with my extensive collection of canvas bags with geeky or incomprehensible slogans, I have a few extra). So I wonder if there is a way to get them out of storage and into regular use. I also wonder if there are leftover bags from big trade shows that could be put to use.

Steve Silver

Reuseable Bags are great but we think that Whole Foods may have missed the boat here. We are plastic recyclers and we do not feel that Whole Foods "A Better Bag" is recylable. We are introducing a new product to the market called The Better Bag. It is a reusable bag made with recycled material and is fully recyclable. Whole Foods "A Better Bag" is actually a co-mingled product. Co-mingled plastics are difficult or impossible to recycle. We think that when the Whole Foods bags become worn out that they will just be thrown away. What a shame! Please visit our new website WWW.THEBETTERBAG.COM to learn more about reuseable bags.


I think Whole Foods is probably in the same situation anyone else is in - to find a manufacturer for products in high quantities at a reasonable price always lands you in another country. I did a search tonight because I'm interested in these bags -- and I have to tell you -- it's not easy to find a recycled bag -- all my searches put me right back in China. And when I searched for the U.S. only, I ended up on sites that imprint the bags, but still import them from China or elsewhere. I use Whole Foods bags and think they are great - and if they can't be recycled further, I guess I'll rethink that -- but for now, it's better than regular plastic and I'll keep looking for the latest and greatest to keep up!

Ken Holmes

I actually think that Whole Foods eliminated plastic bags and is promoting their reusables for one simple reason - profit. They are specifically targeting the "green" crowd, and for some reason, that target group doesn't question Whole Foods' motives at all. "They're so cool, they must be super green!"

Plastic disposable bags cost them money, reusables make them money.

Their "greenness" is also suspect in my mind because they continue to promote their recycled content paper bags, despite the fact that paper bags (even recycled ones) use far more energy (oil) to create and transport than plastic, and are responsible for far more water and air pollution. Look it up.

Plastic bags aren't evil. They don't litter themselves. They use a tiny fraction (far less than one percent) of the oil we consume, they take up very little room in landfills, and are 100% recyclable!

Let's leave the poor plastic bag alone... please. Can't we focus on solutions that will actually make a difference?

Pearl Packaging

Get your eco-friendly, reusable shopping bags at

Non-Woven, OPP Finished, Canvas, all options you can use to go green as well as all your packaging needs. If you want to brand it, we can help you!!!

Lowest prices, fast turnaround times!!


So let me get this straight, the 80% post-consumer plastic is shipped to the other side of the planet--China, the bags are made, then the bags are shipped back again to the US? That's over 20,000 bag-miles. I think Whole Foods was afraid you were going to grill them on that.

Steve Silver

Plastics recycling is little understood by the general population. For this reason there is lot of misleading information out there about what actually can and cannot be recycled. We are plastic recyclers and this admittedly is a plug for our new product THE BETTER BAG, a unique reusable grocery bag. First of all, most municipal recycling programs do not accept any kind of reusable bags for recycling. Consequently the recycling symbol printed on the tags of these bags is really meaningless. Reusable bags put into home recycling will most likely be culled out and thrown away. Second, plastics need to be virtually 100% pure to be recycled by conventional plastics recycling methods. Plastics that are impure are called contaminated or commingled. We've purchased a variety of common reusable bags now being sold at supermarkets, office supply stores and other retail outlets. Many of them bear a tag that says that they are 100% pure. When we tested most of these bags, we found that the threads or the handles or the bottom stiffeners used to make these bags are often made from a different material than the bag fabric itself. This renders these bags commingled and in our opinion, not recyclable. A famous grocery chain promotes bags that are made from 80% recycled soda bottles, what they don't understand is that the other 20% of the bag is another foreign material and that the mixture of these materials creates a commingled product. Sure, using any reusable bag beats using a one time disposable paper or plastic bag but why use a bag that will eventually end up as solid waste when you can use a bag that can be recycled over and over again?

THE BETTER BAG is a triple play. It's made with recycled material. It's incredibly sturdy and it's the only reusable bag that's guaranteed recyclable. We can offer this guaranty because we recycle it! To learn more, please visit our website:


Teri Thomas

three years ago I committed to ridding our oceans of plastic floating debris and committing this nation to reducing their use of one use plastic bags. I was one of only a handful of people at the grocery store reusing shopping bags. It is now 2009 and I look behind me in line and see that 80% of the shoppers have committed to the new changes. Our business at Sage Green LLC has grown beyond my wildest dreams. We can now produce post consumer product bags. the message is clear that in every part of our lives, reducing the use of packaging is of utmost importance for us all. If you have a small business and would like to encourage your customers to reuse shopping bags, give us a call at and you can send your logo and message out to the public and spread that message to all. We are all in this together.


This bag looks great - certainly a fashion friendly bag. But what makes it a better bag? The colors? Good looking bags that are 100% from recycled bottles are available and made in the USA. Do we need to always buy from overseas companies when we have factories and companies that can be sourced domestically? The fact that these bags used waste materials that did not come from America's landfill, doesn't help our waste problems. Bags made by companies outside of the USA, does not help our domestic workforce. Factories that do not pay into the American tax system does not help our economy. So why is this a better bag? We have companies that are going out of business in North Carolina because of the flood of imported products (Bloomsburg Mills) Is this what Fair Trade is all about? I hope Whole Foods, which I have a lot of respect for, can give domestic businesses a chance to market their products more. A made in USA bag that supports our economy and takes trash from our own waste stream, to me, is the Better Bag!

The comments to this entry are closed.

Martha's Circle

Sustainable is Good Copyright © 2007 - 2016

Privacy Policy