PAPER BAGS: ROACH CITY
WHY LATEST 'GREEN' GAMBIT BACKFIRES
By JEFF STIER
April 16, 2008 -- GET your plastic grocery bags while you can. By Earth Day, that is, Tuesday, the national chain Whole Foods Market will no longer offer shoppers plastic bags - leaving consumers who don't want reusable canvas bags one choice: paper.
Unfortunately, paper has its own drawbacks, such as: it's preferred by cockroaches - like those contributing to New York City's asthma epidemic.
Like other Earth Day initiatives, this move by Whole Foods reeks of a phenomenon known as "greenwashing" - when companies make lofty claims in an effort to profit from "environmentally concerned" shoppers.
Whole Foods insists that the decision to take away the plastic option is wildly popular with consumers. When pressed on why consumers would be happy about having fewer choices, Whole Foods spokeswoman Kate Lowery insists that the "emphasis is on reusable canvas bags." Why not let customers have the choice?
The company claims on its Web site that it isn't "trying to settle the 'paper vs. plastic' debate." But by no longer offering plastic, it sure sounds like Whole Foods has chosen paper.
Unfortunately, so have cockroaches.
Jeff Stier is an associate director of the American Council on Science and Health.