When you think about Thanksgiving and the rest of the holiday season, the first thing that probably comes to mind is the sweet smell and yummy taste of classic holiday dishes like pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes. But for many Americans, Thanksgiving dinner this year also came with something not so appealing: a side of plastic waste.
Holiday food --like all of our groceries-- often comes wrapped in unnecessary plastic. A lot of this plastic is truly “single use” because it was never designed for reuse.
This single-use plastic packaging ends up polluting our oceans and harming wildlife that mistake plastic for food. It’s a common occurrence: strolling through grocery aisles and only finding the ingredients on your list wrapped in plastic film or packaged in plastic bags. It’s not a great feeling as a consumer to feel cornered into buying plastic packaging when there’s no other option available.
The overuse of single-use plastic packaging -- a problem perpetuated by corporations and grocery stores -- is a major contributor to plastic pollution in our environment. A common misconception is that recycling will solve our plastic problem, but only 8.7% of plastic waste generated is ever actually recycled. A garbage truck worth of plastic enters our oceans every minute, and once there, it injures and kills birds and ocean life like sea turtles.
To turn the tide on plastic pollution, we need corporations to do their part to eliminate single-use plastic packaging. In particular, grocery stores have a major role to play: They package our groceries in disposable plastic including bags, foam containers, wrappers, and packaging every day. We need to stop the problem at its source.
As far as grocery stores go, Whole Foods has been a leader in the past on sustainability.In 2008, they became the first grocer to ban the use of plastic bags at check out. But recently, the company has started to lag behind competitors when it comes to plastic. Whole Foods received an ‘F’ from As You Sow for failing to have a comprehensive plan to tackle plastic.