The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish
April 4, 2012

What Do You Think of the Plastic Produce Packaging at Trader Joe’s Nowadays?

Six years ago, Michael and I got a notice that a Trader Joe’s grocery store was going to be opening down the street from our house. This was back before I had woken up to the problems with plastic, and the news thrilled me. I had visions of all the fresh salads I was going to buy on my way to work every day. And then a few months later, I saw a photo of a dead albatross chick filled with plastic, and I started attempting to live plastic-free.  By the time the new Trader Joe’s opened, I could no longer shop there. The only department where I could find anything not packaged in plastic was the liquor aisle.

What seemed to be the most egregious misuse of plastic was in the produce aisle. While most grocery stores–even mainstream stores like Safeway–carried loose produce, Trader Joe’s seemed to only sell produce in plastic-wrapped multi-packs or plastic net bags. And while some of its produce containers were made from PLA, a compostable type of plastic, the containers are only compostable in special industrial composting facilities, and the fact is that PLA is made from mainly GMO corn, which is grown using vast amounts of chemicals.  What’s more, the compostable trays were wrapped in non-compostable plastic film.  And the question remained, why did produce need to be wrapped in the first place?

Fast forward to last week. Blog reader Stacey in NYC wrote the following post in the My Plastic-Free Life Discussion Forum:

I want to start off by saying I’m a big fan of the grocery store, Trader Joe’s. They are a really cool store with great products and they stand behind their products. I’ve also found their sales associates to be very friendly and helpful.

However, they wrap most of their fresh produce in plastic! I’m obviously preaching the the choir here when I say this is so disturbing. I wrote them a letter recently that I have posted on the thread, “I’m writing a letter to my favorite Companies” if you want to take a look. However, I’m reaching out to the community here, to ask please write letters too. If you are familiar with this store, you understand that they seem to have a bigger picture in mind… Meaning, they may listen to concerned consumers about environmental issues. Please help if you can.

I’m also reaching out to see if anyone else had additional ideas of what I can do in this situation. Besides writing letters, what more can I do? Suggestions are greatly appreciated!

I’ve whined for years about TJ’s produce packaging and ranted along with other activists, but to date, I haven’t really done much else. Stacey’s post captured my imagination. Would it be worthwhile to start a real, honest-to-goodness campaign to get Trader Joe’s to reduce its plastic packaging? If so, what produce would we want to focus on? What specific, measurable steps would we ask Trader Joe’s to take? How would we approach them?

Last week, I went on a little fact-finding mission to learn whether the produce situation was as bad as it had been several years ago and which items seemed to be the worst offenders.  I found some pleasant surprises.

Trader Joe’s Selling More Unpackaged Produce

In the produce section in the Trader Joe’s on College Avenue in Oakland, CA, I found many examples of loose produce being sold right next to its plastic-packaged counterpart. Here are a few examples:

Bell peppers…

 

Apples…

Lemons and limes…

Avocados…

Potatoes and yams…

Still Too Much Packaging?

But there were still items packaged individually in plastic…

 

And Stacey sent me photos from her Trader Joe’s in NYC showing many more items in plastic packaging without an unpackaged option:

Should We Start a Campaign?

So, what do you think? Is Trader Joe’s offering enough unpackaged options or should they be doing a lot better? Please leave a comment answering the following questions, to give me an idea if this is a campaign worth spending the time and energy on pursuing. As some of you know who were around when I started the Take Back the Filter Brita recycling campaign, I’m not interested in doing things in a half-assed way. There are too many dead petitions on Change.org and Care2 from people who had a good idea, slapped up a petition, and then didn’t have the energy or stubborness to see it through. That’s just not my style. So, here are the questions:

1) Do you shop at Trader Joe’s?
2) If so, where? What area of the country? Please be as specific as you feel comfortable being.
3) Do you think Trader Joe’s produce packaging is actually worse than other stores in your area? Why or why not?
4) Does your Trader Joe’s offer any produce that is not wrapped in plastic? If so, what kinds of things?
5) What items are the worst offenders? What items would you love to see sold unpackaged?
6) If we started a campaign, what which of the following things would you be willing to do?

  • Sign a petition
  • Write a letter
  • Speak to a store manager
  • Forward the petition to all of your contacts via email or social media
  • Write a letter to the editor
  • Contact organizations that might be interested in helping spread the word
  • Organize an action at a local Trader Joe’s
  • Collect produce packaging from Trader Joe’s (assuming this is stuff you would have bought anyway) to be used for an action
  • Take pictures of packaging at Trader Joe’s and upload to a Facebook page
  • Create a video of packaging at Trader Joe’s
  • Any other ideas?

Thanks! Please forward this post to anyone else you know who might be interested or who has complained about the plastic packaging at Trader Joe’s. Right now, I’m just in the information gathering stage. I don’t want to act until I know there is enough support and that this is a worthwhile action on which to focus.

And now I’ll leave you with an awesome video about just this very topic from a comedian whose rant is way funnier than mine could ever be:


Leave a Reply

131 Comments on "What Do You Think of the Plastic Produce Packaging at Trader Joe’s Nowadays?"


Guest
Rikster
7 months 9 days ago

I like the idea of using plastic wrap, I would much rather start a recycle thing than eat food that has pesticides and wax on them. The wax just just keeps the pesticides on the food for you. 
In case you haven’t looked around the store you shop in people handle the food a lot and the plastic not only keeps the food fresher, it helps to keep some of the nasty bacteria and germs off the food. easier to wash food that isn’t coated with wax as well.
Just think next time you buy some food that is sitting there how many people don’t wash there hands after going to the bathroom, just blew their nose, handled something really dirty and are now stocking and touching the very food your going to eat, and this happens all the way from the field its picked in to the store shelf.
The best food is from a farmers market which has less ex-poser to people and the nasty chemicals. Your never going to get perfect food unless you grow your own garden, in which case I hope you don’t live where there is snow.
In the end you might think plastic is so bad, then recycle it. The people handling your food might be the worse of two evils.

Guest
milkaM
6 months 4 days ago

Thank you for putting into writing what I had intended to say.  I fully agree.  I would rather deal with proper disposal of the plastic than to worry about the 300 or so dirty hands that touched my piece of veggie or fruit before I purchased it.  Also agree I don’t like wax.

Guest
guest
1 year 5 months ago

I hope this effort is not dead! I would love for this campaign to get some traction, especially in light of the recent expose in MotherJones magazine about the shocking prevalence of estrogenic chemicals, not just BPA, in so many plastics.
1) Do you shop at Trader Joe’s? Yes
2) If so, where? What area of the country? Culver City, CA
3) Do you think Trader Joe’s produce packaging is actually worse than other stores in your area? Why or why not? Yes. Many of the more mainstream grocery stores, both east and west coast from what I have seen, offer many more unpackaged produce options. They also offer at least some bulk items.
4) Does your Trader Joe’s offer any produce that is not wrapped in plastic? If so, what kinds of things? Yes, some. Basically the ones described in your post.
5) What items are the worst offenders? What items would you love to see sold unpackaged? Broccoli, beans, herbs, peppers. Also, I recently learned from folk in the waste & recycling management field that those plastic mesh bags are a disaster for recycling centers, so I’d love to see those gone. Other things that aren’t easily recyclable would be great to get rid of too- plastic films, #5-7 plastics, those weird plastic napkin things. And like other folks, I’d love if there were bulk items.
6) If we started a campaign, what which of the following things would you be willing to do? Any of it I believe. While I am in favor of collaboration before confrontation, I have wondered if it might have an impact to have customers unpackage their items and then leave (or return) the packaging for TJ’s to deal with the disposal!
Thank you so much for this.

Guest
Kely
1 year 8 months ago

I don’t think Trader Joe’s is not the only store who use excessive parasitic to package their products. Wallmart, Sam’s club, Ralphs, etc… not much difference. I hope people are not studied enough to say “after X amount of parasitic it is considered too much—“. They do take care of employee and the majority of  customers use reusable grocery bags too. I’m sure Trader Joe’s is going to make change. But I am so curious — why all of a sudden people start to talk about Trader Joe’s parasitic use????? I want to find out what group started and who they get their fundings from.

Guest
Lizplastic
1 year 10 months ago

pre-packaged produce often costs more too – because they’ve packed it for you. Convenience gone mad.

Guest
Jason
2 years 1 month ago

Trader Joe’s “Organic Baby Spinach” is in a sealed #7 plastic bag!
#7 plastic can contain toxic bisphenol-A (BPA).
This can’t be good. Shame on Trader Joes.

Guest
BethTerry
2 years 4 months ago

Hey everyone… right now, the Plastic Pollution Coaligion has a petition going to ask Trader Joe’s to reduce produce packaging.  This is a good start.  Let’s all sign it and forward it.  We need to do more… but let’s see how this goes first.  http://www.causes.com/actions/1737276-demand-that-trader-joes-end-the-use-of-excessive-plastic-packaging

Guest
2 years 4 months ago

Beth,
We should tackle Fresh & Easy too.  I stopped shopping there because they sell live turtles to customers in China and they refuse to stop this practice.  Maybe they will stop wrapping everything in plastic if we add them to the action.  I will send you some video and photos of how much plastic they use in the produce section.  They are worse than Trader Joe’s

Guest
BethTerry
2 years 4 months ago

Without Conclusion I live in Oakland and have not seen Fresh and Easy.  Sounds awful. My question is whether they are presenting themselves as “green” in the same way Trader Joe’s does?  Many eco-minded people shop at TJ’s because of the emphasis on organic foods.  So it’s just so ironic that TJ’s has more plastic packaging than many other conventional grocery stores.

Guest
2 years 4 months ago

BethTerry Without Conclusion Beth, visit their website at http://www.freshandeasy.com.  They have stated several times on their website and throughout their stores about how green they are compared to other grocery stores.  I don’t shop over there anymore because they refuse to stop selling live turtles in their stores in China.  I will make a special trip to take pictures of all the horrible plastic and email them to you sometime next week.

Guest
BethTerry
2 years 4 months ago

Without Conclusion BethTerry Okay, great.  Please do send me pics/info.  The turtle thing is horrible.

Guest
Michaela
2 years 9 months ago

1&2) I shop at Trader Joe’s in Winston-Salem, NC. Our TJ’s opened a month ago and we were all pretty thrilled. Then my family read Garbology, watched Bag It, and started learning about the health and environmental dimensions of food packaging. Now we’re afraid we’ll have to swear off our favorite new finds.
 
3) TJ’s produce packaging is surely worse than any of my other local options (Whole Foods, Fresh Market, farmer’s markets, and the big-box stores). Plus, TJ’s doesn’t offer any bulk bins, so those products that I’d normally scoop into glass or paper are ultra-plasticized.
 
4) Our TJ’s doesn’t wrap bananas and offers some loose apples, limes, avocados and greens/herbs alongside packaged counterparts, but 5) I just don’t think there’s a reason to bag up hard produce like apples, and the addition of bulk bins would enable me to buy TJ favorites like nuts and dried fruit (which TJ’s does better than any other market I’ve seen, because they have no-sugar, no-sulfate options for almost everything) without generating or buying into pounds of plastic waste.
 
6) If we started a campaign, I’d sign and forward a petition, speak to a manager, write a letter, and/or take packaging pics.

Guest
NutItOut
2 years 9 months ago

I’m shocked! Why does it get to this extent? I live in Australia and am getting annoyed at the ever increasing amount of produce that is beginning to be sold packaged. But I have yet to see such an extent as your photos display. While I do not buy fruit n veg in big name supermarkets which cart most of their stuff around the continent even they provide mixed lettuce, loose baby spinach etc that you can collect what you need yourself from big tubs alongside their bags of it. If not loose, I can still get my potatoes in paper bags stitched closed with cotton string. It’s nice to walk in a shop and SEE fruit and vegetables rather than plastic. Even better if they have misting sprays overhead to help maintain freshness that add an extra appeal to customers in hot summers.
 
I suppose the biggest offenders I see are herbs, mushrooms (while most are available loose as well as packed the more unusual are not eg oyster mushrooms which bruise easy) and cherry tomatoes, oh and that cucumber everyone knows about. Only one place I found so far selling cherry tomatoes loose by the kilo in season (I now grow my own, they are easy and grow year round here). Also garlic. I carry concern about garlic. We can grow garlic so well here but most do not (which makes it very expensive when you do find it locally grown) simply because it is cheaply and easily obtained from overseas, plastic net wrapped (eg. China, same as yours) or plastic wrapped in a big pack to be sold loose. No garlic needs to plastic wrapped just like potatoes and squash etc.
 
While nothing needs to be in plastic it is strange that most shops even here will define the organic produce by wrapping it in plastic and price labeling it. Mainly in big stores though as many more conscious small stores here will offer loose at an “organic zone” within store or at least in paper bags.
 
Broccoli? Really? Aren’t people going to wash their produce anyway? I’ve luckily not seen that wrapped yet.
 
I hope people will encourage your store to make changes, they are big stores with a big impact. Start with popular long lasting produce like potatoes. That on its own will be amazing progress and they are not an issue of freshness like other things such as lettuce.
 
I will keep bringing things to attention in my stores. It makes a difference.

Guest
Kitten
2 years 9 months ago

I just want to add that as I’ve recently started shopping at Walmart (albeit reluctantly), they have less plastic wrapped produce.  Not a lot less, Walmart’s pretty awful about this, but they do have less.

Guest
Kitten
2 years 9 months ago

1) Yes
2)Tempe, Arizona
3) For many fruits and vegetables, yes.  They have far more glass bottled sauces, jams, etc, but for vegetables they are filled with plastic
4 & 5) Yes – individual fruits, such as apples, pears, avacados, peaches, and individual vegetables like potatoes, onions, and bell peppers.  While I can see the utility of plastic wrapping things like spinach (especially considering TJ’s doesn’t sell by weight), I see no reason to shrink wrap individual heads of brocolli, cucumbers or pairs of squash.
6) If we started a campaign, what which of the following things would you be willing to do?
Collect product packaging and Take pictures of packaging at Trader Joe’s and email it (I am still holding out from joining Facebook.)

Guest
Julia
2 years 9 months ago

Hey Beth, I am a designer student in San Francisco State University, and I am currently working on the Trader Joe’s plastic packaging for one of my classes. A part of my project is to research the problem and to create an alternative solution. If it works out, I’ll try to work with Trader Joe’s to substitute the current harmful practices. Here is my project’s blog: http://juliagrosman.blogspot.com
stay tuned :)

Guest
BethTerry
2 years 9 months ago

Thank you, thank you!  I have not had time to start anything so I’m glad you taken the initiative.  Please, please keep us informed.  I’ll check out your blog.  Let me know if you want to chat.

Guest
Kenji Yamada
2 years 9 months ago

Awesome, Julia!  I got a reply from Trader Joe’s to the message I mentioned below, and it said basically “We’d like to avoid plastic, but right now that would be too expensive.”  Do you have a sense of what cost constraints you’d have to meet in order to make an alternative feasible for TJ’s?

Guest
BethTerry
2 years 9 months ago

@Kenji Yamada Hi Kenji.  Can you please respond to them and ask why it would be more expensive to sell produce without any packaging than to sell with plastic packaging?  We’re not talking about switching to another material but just selling it naked like most other stores do.

Guest
Kenji Yamada
2 years 9 months ago

@BethTerry Just sent a response to that effect.  I’ll pass along their reply when I get it.

Guest
Kenji Yamada
2 years 11 months ago

Hey Beth, I sent a message to TJ’s telling them I’d like to be able to take home less plastic from their stores and asked them to contact you.
 
Here are my answers to your questions:
 
1) Do you shop at Trader Joe’s? 2) If so, where? What area of the country? Please be as specific as you feel comfortable being.
 
Yes, in Concord, CA.
 
3) Do you think Trader Joe’s produce packaging is actually worse than other stores in your area? Why or why not?
 
Not sure in general, but in produce, definitely yes.  More plastic packaging of produce than either Safeway or my local produce market.
 
4) Does your Trader Joe’s offer any produce that is not wrapped in plastic? If so, what kinds of things?
 
The items you showed above are all I can think of.
 
5) What items are the worst offenders? What items would you love to see sold unpackaged?
 
Produce is the only thing I’d like to see unpackaged.  For other things, I’d like to see genuinely recyclable, reusable or biodegradable packaging.  I know it’ll take some serious research to offer TJ’s some practical alternatives there.
 
6) If we started a campaign, what which of the following things would you be willing to do?
Any of the things you listed.  I’d also be willing to do research into what alternative packaging might be practical for TJ’s, although I might need some guidance from you on where and how to do that research.

Guest
NuevaMama
2 years 11 months ago

TJ’s used to be my favorite place to shop, since I could buy organic produce at lower prices than anywhere else around me. After reading the book and blog however, my eyes are opened in a whole new way and I am re-evaluating my plastic-steeped life (which I used to think was really green!). So I am looking to alternatives to TJ’s. My issue is that my family is also on a budget and organic is a huge priority to me. Our farmers markets don’t have many organic farmers (only one at the market I go to, and she doesn’t come on the day I go!) and the other local stores have organic produce priced much higher. :-( How do I make a plastic free/organic life more budget friendly??? Also, as wonderful as it is that TJ’s has some produce out of the wrappers, those items are often very over-priced (more than $1 per apple vs $5 for a whole bag!) and often are not the organic items anyways.
 
Also, in response to “me” regarding GMOs: there is a huge difference between GMOs and cross-breeding two plants as, among other sketchy things, GMOs will put animal DNA into our plant foods. Additionally there has been animal testing that shows some of those pesticides now engrained in the plants’ DNA can harm the animal that eats it, causing digestive and other health problems. No thanks. I’ll take bugs on my plants any day, even if the leaves are full of holes.
 
1) Do you shop at Trader Joe’s?YES 2) If so, where? Milwaukee, WI 3) Do you think Trader Joe’s produce packaging is actually worse than other stores in your area? Sometimes, depends on the product and the store I’m comparing to. My local co-op has many more organic options plastic-free but the big-name store doesn’t. For conventional produce all other stores have less packaging. 4) Does your Trader Joe’s offer any produce that is not wrapped in plastic? Yes, apples, bananas, avocados, peppers, grapefruit, pears.  5) What items are the worst offenders? everything.. What items would you love to see sold unpackaged? broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower, beans and peas and have the prices on-par with the packaged items!! 6) If we started a campaign, what which of the following things would you be willing to do?
Sign a petition YESWrite a letterYESSpeak to a store managerYESForward the petition to all of your contacts via email or social mediaYESContact organizations that might be interested in helping spread the wordYESCollect produce packaging from Trader Joe’s (assuming this is stuff you would have bought anyway) to be used for an actionYES

Guest
me
3 years 6 days ago

While I applaud your concern with reducing plastic use, your statement on GMOs is ignorant. A lot of GMO produce is developed precisely in order to reduce the use of chemicals. Some traits are selected in order to make plants more resilient in poorer soil – thus reducing the need for chemical fertilizers. Other traits make the plants more resistant to pests – thus reducing the need for spraying with insect repellents, fungicides and the like.
If you are concerned about chemical use in our food supply (as you should be) then you should be supporting GMO – which is really no different than selecting and cross breeding plants for desirable traits.

Guest
Valerie Teruel
3 years 3 months ago

It would be good for TJ’s to see how much business they are losing, because of this one issue. I went from shopping mostly at TJ’s to only buying the foods they offer that are not packaged. I only shop organic so it has become really limited. My local does sell a few unpackaged organic items. On the other hand they have plenty of regular produce that is unpackaged. I guess they don’t trust their customers. This week I went to get grape juice and yes that too is now in plastic, another lost customer!

Guest
Michele Siegle Coghill
3 years 3 months ago

less plastic packaging! Particularly produce.

Guest
Marian Hammett
3 years 3 months ago

Yes, I would like MUCH less prepacking of fresh produce.

Guest
Danni Hart
3 years 3 months ago

Yes yes and yes, but they probably pre-package at their distribution point to save $$$ in the retail locations. Don’t like prepack veggies though so don’t buy them.

Guest
Katie Ostrich
3 years 3 months ago

I would love to see this happen.
 
1) No
I don’t shop at Trader Joe’s, mainly because I feel that they market to people who think of themselves as environmentalists, while having products that are anything but environmentally friendly. I would love Trader Joe’s to practice what it seems to want to preach, and be able to shop there, so for this I’d be willing to stop in to my local store. 
2) Stockton, CA is my nearest store
3) Yes. Safeway and Raley’s both have more produce with less packaging. Safeway and Raleys also sell their own bread at least in paper bags, so there’s at least one option without plastic. TJ’s has all their bread in plastic. And the TJ salads are just ridiculous.
4) A few items, I’d have to visit again and take notes to be sure. I also suspect that the unpackaged items are more expensive, rather like at Safeway where an unpackaged potato is 0.99/lb and a ten pound bag of potatoes is five dollars.
5) I wanted to buy leeks and cucumbers and they were both shrink wrapped. I believe I also saw shrink wrapped bananas (and nature packages them so well, too!). Generally, the veggies were worse off than the fruits, again, I’d have to return and take notes.
6) Sign a petition, forward a petition, take pictures, write letters
 

Guest
AlyssaLee
3 years 3 months ago

I don’t want to burden you with work but I would absolutely love to see such a campaign take off because Trader Joe’s is one of the few grocery options we have around UCLA besides Ralphs. It’s a stepping stone for many I know between stores like Ralphs and the real healthy and sustainable venues like farmers markets. I’m going to bring this up at my Sustainability Club meeting tonight and am hoping to hear a lot of support!
 
1) Do you shop at Trader Joe’s?
Yes, usually for convenience foods like crackers and tater tots. They’re often more affordable than other stores (especially their produce) and they’re always so friendly. I’ve also dumpster dived at TJoe’s
2) If so, where? What area of the country? Please be as specific as you feel comfortable being.
I shop at the one in Westwood near UCLA and also near my apartment near Olympic.
3) Do you think Trader Joe’s produce packaging is actually worse than other stores in your area? Why or why not?
It definitely can be. I’ve seen more loose produce at other stores and I’ve only seem vacuum-sealed cucumbers at Trader Joe’s, not even Ralphs! Sometimes they get away with it because their packaging looks so nice but I also see a LOT of things wrapped in a tray and then also wrapped in plastic.
4) Does your Trader Joe’s offer any produce that is not wrapped in plastic? If so, what kinds of things?
Bell peppers, brussel sprouts, onions, lemons
5) What items are the worst offenders? What items would you love to see sold unpackaged?
Cucumbers, some bell peppers (where they have the peppers on a tray with a napkin then wrapped in platic), general greens (I can’t get any salad greens not packaged), cilantro, beans, sprouts, the list goes on
6) If we started a campaign, what which of the following things would you be willing to do?
ALL of them! Especially with a group of impassioned students behind me who make up a lot of their business!

Guest
The Left Coast Mama
3 years 3 months ago

yes! way too much packaging when these items can easily be sold package free!

Guest
Rar
3 years 3 months ago

Absolutely, it is a huge problem and is why I typically do not buy my produce from TJs.  With that said, mine sells organic milk packaged in a 100% paper carton–no TetraPak bullshit.with the plastic screwcap.  
 
My guilty TJ purchases (re: plastic wrapping): cheese, yogurt, maple mini-wheat cereal.
Happy TJ purchases (paper wrapping): milk, cous-cous.

Guest

[…] she discussed the use of plastic in the kitchen and pointed us in the direction of another blogger My Plastic Free Life who is attempting to live life without plastic, like not buying food that has plastic to contain […]

Guest
Megan
3 years 4 months ago

I am very glad this was brought up because every time I walk in Trader Joes I am always sad to see everything wrapped in plastic.  Its nice to hear other people feel this way as well.  My boyfriend has the theory that it may be to reduce theft but I have no idea if he really believe that or if he was just trying to justify or if it is even true for that matter.  (1) I shop occassionally at Trader Joes (mainly for junk food and such similar to Jennifer) but I would shop there more if there wasn’t so much plastic packaging involved.  Especially because they have some great prices on things which would be a help to my wallet. (2) Massachusetts (3)  Yes I think its much worse because there are only a few items not in some sort of plastic bag (4) There are a few…apples, bananas, grapefruits, clementines (4)  I can’t think of one specific item that is the worse.  I would essentially just like to have more options of packaging free things (5) I would be willing to help out in any way necessary

Guest
ZackTerry
3 years 4 months ago

Haha that is hilarious.  I’ve always thought it’s pretty rediculous how much stuff is packaged in plastic.  Have you ever seen those packages of Candy that have like each individual life saver packaged in its own peice of plastic.  Its rediculous and frankly its wierd and im ashamed and surprized if the consumer market has actually driven these trends.  _  Zack Terry
 

Guest
BethTerry
3 years 4 months ago

 @ZackTerry Isn’t it crazy, Zack?  Have you seen individually-wrapped jellybeans?  Or prunes?  Insane.

Guest
Lily Rothrock
3 years 4 months ago

yes! i never buy their produce. it’s imported mainly too. and it’s not just the plastic itself that’s bad–since stuff is packaged together, if one of, say, three avocados goes bad, they throw them all away! that’s part of the reason why their dumpsters are so plentiful.

Guest
Doug DuBois
3 years 4 months ago

It wasn’t too long ago I could buy juice in glass bottles there. Now it seems to be all plastic containers.

Guest
Margaret E Robinson
3 years 4 months ago

you so totally bet i would! all that plastic packaging (ESPECIALLY for the produce) was just too much – we quit shopping there over 12 months ago. organic veggies (ANY veggies) in plastic is so wrong!

Guest
Lisa Bark
3 years 4 months ago

That’s funny you posted this today because I was just talking to my dad today and he was talking about Trader Joe’s and I told him I don’t shop there because they overpackage.

Guest
Caro Price
3 years 4 months ago

Most of their stuff seems to be imported from S. America, Europe and Asia…their carbon footprint can’t be small. Sure, I’d be up for reducing their packaging.

Guest
Ryan Elizabeth Cope
3 years 4 months ago

This is crazy! VT doesn’t have any Trader Joes, but the stores we do have (Hannaford, Price Chopper, Shaws) all use way, WAY less packaging…usually the plastic wraps are used for only organic produce and bags of potatoes/apples, etc. This is an absurd waste of plastic, so yes; I’d totally be down for telling Trader Joe’s to cut the plastic habit. :)

Guest
Susan Stewart
3 years 4 months ago

Trader joes has a funny distribution system of their own, which i’m not certain but i think it reduces overall carbon footprint. but it might be something worth pursuing anyways, to make them re-think how to do both less plastic and less carbon.

Guest
Jenni Webb
3 years 4 months ago

Every company same.!!. now the packs are bigger than the bikkies .. Companies wld get it!

Guest
Shannon Adolph
3 years 4 months ago

Yes, I hate Tj’s. I thought I was the only one. Everyone else seems to worship at the altar of TJ’s. :-

Guest
Perfectly Flawed
3 years 4 months ago

Yes, yes, yes!

Guest
Celine Lovins
3 years 4 months ago

That’s why I don’t shop there…so much packaging!

Guest
Kathleen Stanton Johnson
3 years 4 months ago

Yes! And it drives me crazy! I was so happy when they started offering apples, pears, and a few other products without the plastic clam shell. I wish they would continue that trend with all of their produce!

Guest
Clare Cantrell
3 years 4 months ago

I have been a loyal TJ’s cutomer for about 20 years and have recently realized how much unnecessary packaging there is. This is perfect timing because as much as I love TJ’s I have limited my shopping there in my quest for plastic free.

Guest
Nancy Nathan Baldwin
3 years 4 months ago

I have been saying this for years! Which is why I don’t buy their produce! Only buy their organic noodles becaues its the best price around me.

Guest
Suzanne Meyer
3 years 4 months ago

Beth – can’t answer the questions as I only went to TJ’s about 4 years ago and was so gobsmacked that everything was packaged, so I never went back again. As a matter of fact I find Whole Foods almost as bad – sure they have loose veg, fruit and bulk items, but one cannot buy one piece of cheese, not wrapped in plastic.

Guest
Michelle Cassar
3 years 4 months ago

Go for it!!

Guest
Suzanne Meyer
3 years 4 months ago

Shared the link, and absolutely TJ’s is over packaged – I have never shopped there because of this fact – even before I was converted PS that comedian was really funny and spot on.

Guest
Christine Boschen Ghodrati
3 years 4 months ago

Yes, I think it is over packaged. Count me in. I was talking to my local TJ about why my favorite bread there has to come in plastic if it is, indeed, made fresh each day. TJs can and should try harder.

Guest
My Plastic-free Life
3 years 4 months ago

If you have time, could you guys please take a minute to read the post and answer the questions? Trying to see how much people are willing to do and which items are the worst offenders. Thanks!

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Liz Bernstein
3 years 4 months ago

It’s annoying. My local grocery store does a much better job then Trader Joes

Guest
Alyssa J Pasquale
3 years 4 months ago

Yes, which is why I don’t shop there!

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Good GreenWitch
3 years 4 months ago

YES.

Guest
Red Lee
3 years 4 months ago

I think it SUCKS!

Guest
Jessica
3 years 4 months ago

1) Do you shop at Trader Joe’s?
Hardly, due to the packaging of most of their materials. I occasionally buy pasta sauce, and bananas.

2) If so, where? What area of the country? Please be as specific as you feel comfortable being.
I live in San Francisco, CA. There are 3 locations in the city, and I “shop” at the one near SFSU.

3) Do you think Trader Joe’s produce packaging is actually worse than other stores in your area? Why or why not?
Short answer, yes, it is. Other grocers carry a variety of produce available without packaging, including BOTH organic and non-organic produce. Trader Joe’s just seems to have the non-organic produce plastic/packaged-free, whereas the organic produce (with the exception of bananas and some apples) comes only in plastic packaging. Conscious consumers have a disincentive when shopping for produce here. If you want to eat the healthier produce, you have to buy it with the packaging, and if you want the plastic-free option, you have to buy the non-organic produce. It’s just backwards.

4) Does your Trader Joe’s offer any produce that is not wrapped in plastic? If so, what kinds of things?
Yes: bananas, potatoes, apples, citrus, Brussels sprout stocks, bell peppers, tomatoes, some onions, and a few other things. However, as I mentioned in question 3, all of the choices are non organic (except for bananas and some apples).

5) What items are the worst offenders? What items would you love to see sold unpackaged?
All of the following items are both the worst offenders AND I would love to see sold unpackaged: carrots, broccoli, spring mix lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, avocados, garlic.

6) If we started a campaign, what which of the following things would you be willing to do?

Sign a petition YES

Write a letter YES

Speak to a store manager YES

Forward the petition to all of your contacts via email or social media YES

Write a letter to the editor MAYBE

Contact organizations that might be interested in helping spread the word MAYBE

Organize an action at a local Trader Joe’s MAYBE

Collect produce packaging from Trader Joe’s (assuming this is stuff you would have bought anyway) to be used for an action N/A

Take pictures of packaging at Trader Joe’s and upload to a Facebook page YES

Create a video of packaging at Trader Joe’s MAYBE

Any other ideas?
As a final thought, Trader Joe’s is pretty receptive to the suggestions its patrons’ have. When I was in college at SFSU, a group of students from a class I took wrote a letter to the local Trader Joe’s in regards to the plastic packaging on their produce, and how it affected their decision to purchase produce there. In only a few weeks’ time several plastic-free options became available. I believe we can make a difference here, and a movement should be in order.

Guest

[…] Skip the produce in additional plastic wrap. […]

Guest
Cameron
3 years 4 months ago

Thank you for talking about this. I always feel so guilty when I shop at T.J.’s, because almost everything is in plastic, and a lot of items are going from glass to plastic. I primarily shop at our local health food store, Jimbo’s, which is far better than T.J.’s for both quality, local,organic, less packaging, and having a bulk department, but they are also more expensive than T.J.’s. They do not have home and beauty items in bulk and they need to enlarge their bulk department. I have requested, but said they don’t have the space. They also started putting some of their bulk items in plastic clam shells because they said they sell better in these than in bulk!?!? I spend half of what I used to at T.J.’s (last 2 yrs.) in order to reduce my plastic consumption, but I would like to not go at all. But there are still items that are soooo much cheaper at T.J.’s, such as a pound of organic cashews, T.J.’s plastic bag =$6 and Jimbo’s bulk = $10+. If you live in San Diego County and shop at Jimbo’s, please talk with the store manager about expanding bulk department.

1) Do you shop at Trader Joe’s?
Yes

2) If so, where? What area of the country? Please be as specific as you feel comfortable being.
Escondido, Ca. San Diego County

3) Do you think Trader Joe’s produce packaging is actually worse than other stores in your area? Why or why not?
Yes, I primarily shop at our local health food store, Jimbo’s, which is far better than T.J.’s for both quality, local,organic, less packaging, and having a bulk department. They do not have home and beauty items in bulk and they need to enlarge their bulk department. I have requested, but said they don’t have space. They also started putting some of their bulk items in plastic clam shells because they said they sell better in these than in bulk!?!? I spend half of what I used to at T.J.’s (last 2 yrs.) in order to reduce my plastic consumption, but I would like to not go at all.

4) Does your Trader Joe’s offer any produce that is not wrapped in plastic? If so, what kinds of things?
bell peppers, avo’s, yams (all not organic)

5) What items are the worst offenders? What items would you love to see sold unpackaged?
Worst offenders: Cucumbers, red potatoes, zucchini, squash, and anything shrink-wrapped

6) If we started a campaign, what which of the following things would you be willing to do?
Sign a petition, Write a letter, Speak to a store manager, Forward the petition to all of your contacts via email or social media

Guest
Nancy
3 years 4 months ago

Sam-
You said in your post you can’t find ricotta cheese without plastic. I just wanted to share with you a blog with recipes of foods without plastic, and there is one for homemade ricotta cheese. The blog is plasticfreechef.com, and the link is http://theplasticfreechef.com/2012/03/14/homemade-ricotta-cheese/
Definitely recommend the site!
Nancy

Guest
3 years 4 months ago

I was shocked at the photos that so many things were duplicated, but plastic wrapped. I live in Western Australia, and although our stores also over-use plastic packaging, not to this extent. I guess they would not sell the volume of produce that allows a store to have the same item two-ways?

Guest
3 years 4 months ago

I’m in the “avoid TJ like the plague” camp. And it is because of their packaging primarily. In fact I began avoiding them way before I even got clued into the whole plastic issue because I just dislike waste in general and their packaging contains so much waste!

On a rare day that I do frequent the place (like today) it is to get an item that is packaged similarly in other stores. So today I got ricotta cheese and I don’t know how to get ricotta cheese without plastic. But I do reuse the container to store dry goods after I use it though.

Guest
Gil
3 years 4 months ago

1) Yes, I shop there to get things that aren’t in the CSA basket, or when I can’t make it out to the Coop on the other side of town. But I don’t like buying the overpackaged produce at all, and if I can avoid it, I do.

2) I shop at TJs in West Los Angeles.
3) I think their produce packaging is worse that whole foods and the Coop in Santa Monica for sure. Even worse than regular supermarkets like Ralphs…

4) They do offer things like bell peppers and apples and lemons unpackaged- which I am SO grateful for.

5) cucumbers, shitaake mushrooms, persian cucumbers, artichokes – off the top of my mind – are the worst offenders in terms of plastic packaging.

6) If we started a campaign, I would be willing to Sign a petition – Write a letter – Speak to a store manager

Guest
3 years 4 months ago

Just letting you know that I followed through with my earlier comment and wrote today’s blog post about plastic in food buying and food storage with a link to this post of yours. I hope people will comment and offer their own plastic-free solutions.

Guest
Nancy
3 years 4 months ago

1) Do you shop at Trader Joe’s?
I used to, but the over-packaging drove me nuts enough times that I don’t go there anymore.
2) If so, where? What area of the country? Please be as specific as you feel comfortable being.
I live in Palo Alto, CA near the Trader Joes at Town and Country Village. I work in San Jose, CA so I also used to visit the Trader Joes at the Coleman center.
3) Do you think Trader Joe’s produce packaging is actually worse than other stores in your area? Why or why not?
YES. I think it is much worse than Whole Foods, but probably roughly comparable to places like Safeway. It makes sense to me to target Trader Joe’s as a campaign not only because they have so much packaging, but because a lot of people that shop there would probably be supportive. I think many people who like trader joe’s would like to be more environmentally friendly and reduce packaging.
4) Does your Trader Joe’s offer any produce that is not wrapped in plastic? If so, what kinds of things?
Haven’t been there in awhile so I don’t really remember. I think maybe apples and oranges were unpackaged sometimes though.
5) What items are the worst offenders? What items would you love to see sold unpackaged?
6) If we started a campaign, what which of the following things would you be willing to do?
I would be happy to do all of the following:
Sign a petition
Write a letter
Speak to a store manager
Forward the petition to all of your contacts via email or social media
Write a letter to the editor
Contact organizations that might be interested in helping spread the word
Organize an action at a local Trader Joe’s
Collect produce packaging from Trader Joe’s (assuming this is stuff you would have bought anyway) to be used for an action
Take pictures of packaging at Trader Joe’s and upload to a Facebook page
Create a video of packaging at Trader Joe’s

I know this is about packaging so this isn’t related to this post, but is anyone trying to tackle single use coffee cups at Peets and Starbucks? It is one of those things that is driving me absolutely crazy and is probably one of the easiest habits to get people to change. It really bothers me that employees don’t even ask if people want it “for here” or “to go” and that they don’t advertise reusable mugs more than they do.

Guest
Nan
3 years 4 months ago

I commented yesterday but just stopped by TJs again today and noticed that there are a few more types of produce than there used to be that are not packaged in plastic. There is a definite improvement (some apples, watermelon, pineapple, avocados, one type of tomato, peppers, potatoes, onions, and some citrus). I thanked them via email for the improvement, and asked for continued improvement. Still too few options for me to regularly shop there for produce.

Guest
Rachel
3 years 4 months ago

Just a quick note before I answer the questions. One of my close friends works for GreenPeace. A few years ago, they attempted to get TJs to stop selling some species of threatened fish (yes they were doing this, CRAZY). When they contacted the corporate headquarters, they were told that each TJs was individually owned and operated and that each store manager did the ordering for that particular branch. So, GP did successfully get these fish off the shelf at TJs but they did so by, literally, getting GP activists to go to every single TJs in the country. I’m not kidding. If this is something you are seriously considering doing, you might consider meeting with some GP people involved in that action as they would probably have some pretty valuable insight.

1) Yup
2) Long Beach CA
3) I do. I buy produce that I can’t get from my CSA at the local chain because Whole Foods is too expensive for my grad school budget
4) In the past three years that I’ve lived here, our local TJ’s has started offering more stuff not in plastic, but there is still a whole lot of things that you can’t get unwrapped.
5) I really wish they would sell spinach/lettuce/greens in general without plastic.
6) Sign a petition, Write a letter, Speak to a store manager, Take pictures of packaging at Trader Joe’s and upload to a Facebook page

Guest
Nan
3 years 4 months ago

Thanks for much for this. I, too, have complained to friends but have not taken any action. I did contact them about BPA and I know they are moving in the right direction on that (before other stores).
1) Do you shop at Trader Joe’s?
I used to shop a lot there and was super excited when they arrived in Minnesota, but I by only a few things there now due to the packaging.
2) If so, where? What area of the country?
Minnesota
3) Do you think Trader Joe’s produce packaging is actually worse than other stores in your area? Why or why not?
Yes, even the mainstream stores here offer many types of produce without plastic. I have never seen a cucumber wrapped in plastic anywhere else.
4) Does your Trader Joe’s offer any produce that is not wrapped in plastic? If so, what kinds of things?
same as mentioned- avocados, bananas, some apples, and maybe a few others.
5) What items are the worst offenders? What items would you love to see sold unpackaged? broccoli, cucumbers, peppers,
6) If we started a campaign, what which of the following things would you be willing to do?
petition, letter, forward email, take pictures

Guest
Kate
3 years 4 months ago

I haven’t shopped much at Trader Joe’s because they’re way over on the other side of St. Louis, but I would be willing to sign a petition and/or write a letter. I don’t use Facebook very much but I would also be willing to post a link there.

Guest
3 years 4 months ago

I shop at TJs a lot but I refuse to buy produce there b/c of the packaging. The store I shop at is in Reston, Virginia. They don’t package bananas nor some citrus (like grapefruit) but only sometimes are these things unwrapped. I would write letters, make phone calls, sign petitions, speak to the store manager, and basically support anything else. Let us know!

Guest
3 years 4 months ago

1) Every now and then

2) The closest TJ’s to me is in Bend, Oregon.

3) This is a hard one for me, since I don’t buy produce at TJ’s, and therefore, don’t really notice it. But I think it’s a little more plastic-dominated than my local grocery store.

4) On occasion, I have seen apples, peaces and other such things sans plastic.

5) Cucumbers, salad items, etc.

6) I would be willing to write a letter, start a petition and write about it on my blog.

Guest
Maddie
3 years 4 months ago

I have been to Trader Joe’s twice. Each time left I without purcahsing anything because I couldn’t buy fresh food items in the quantities that I wanted as the items were packaged in quantities greater than I wanted.
I don’t like the packaging waste and I don’t like that most often one can’t buy just one or two peices of produce.
I honestly don’t see why people are so enamored of Trader Joe’s and I have chosen to”vote” with my money… I just don’t shop at Trader Joe’s.

Guest
3 years 4 months ago

I live in Canada, so there is no Trader Joe’s around me, but my local grocery stores do the exact same thing and it drives me bonkers. I’ll continue to do what I can north of the border. I also just read this article (http://www.good.is/post/the-plastic-bag-war-is-moving-toward-the-produce-aisle/?) and am glad to see that the plastic packaging debate is getting more recognition.

Guest
Anastacia Andrade
3 years 4 months ago

I don’t shop at TJs as they are not nearby. If i do its just for a few boxes of organic M&C premix for the kiddos, while in their area.
with that said, I don’t buy produce there either, but not bc they may wrap it up, which I dont notice much of…bc I get it at my local farmers market cheaper.

I do notice another store (several nearby) Fresh N Easy who wrap EACH and EVERY piece of produce in cellophane. I have taken photographs and posted them on FB. I have asked many managers WHY. I have stopped shopping there and tell Everyone I know that the store is crap. I can get organic M&C there, BUT contents are IN plastic! (TJs not so I drive to TJs for my stock)

I know TJs is in many states around the US, where as F&E is just setting foundation.
Perhaps, bc of this TJs deserves more attention.

Guest
3 years 4 months ago

You know, I do a tremendous amount of my shopping at TJ’s- and I hate the packaging. Lately I, like you find more and more produce there that is not packaged. But far from perfection. And I would probably do a lot better if not for my addiction to Broccoli Slaw!

Guest
3 years 4 months ago

Beth,

I think of you every time I am in a Trader Joes. I find it such a paradox that their clientele (at least where I live in MD) are those same people that really have a connection to their environment, shop organic, and would like to see the plastic gone. At the same time, the store is all about convenience. I would be a part of any campaign to challenge Trader Joes to find a more responsible way to meet the needs of their customers. All that extra plastic packaging does make me just CRAZY!

Guest
3 years 4 months ago

1) Do you shop at Trader Joe’s?
Occasionally (once every two or three months, mostly for junk food rather than regular groceries).
2) If so, where? What area of the country? Please be as specific as you feel comfortable being.
Silicon Valley / South Bay area.
3) Do you think Trader Joe’s produce packaging is actually worse than other stores in your area? Why or why not?
It’s comparable to Fresh and Easy but more excessive than most other local supermarkets, including Whole Foods.
4) Does your Trader Joe’s offer any produce that is not wrapped in plastic? If so, what kinds of things?
I don’t usually get my produce there, but off the top of my head: bananas, some potatoes, some onions, bell peppers, brussels sprouts on the branch, pumpkins and some other squash, some apples, some citrus.
5) What items are the worst offenders? What items would you love to see sold unpackaged?
I’m annoyed by the clamshell packaging for things like artichokes, plums, Persian cucumbers, and other things that I could easily pop in my shopping bag as is.
6) If we started a campaign, what which of the following things would you be willing to do?
Sign a petition
Write a letter
Forward the petition to all of your contacts via email or social media
Write a letter to the editor
Contact organizations that might be interested in helping spread the word
Take pictures of packaging at Trader Joe’s and upload to a Facebook page

I actually think I’m more interested in pushing TJs to quit using palm oil (or provide full disclosure), which is in quite a few of their sweets and snacks, than cut out plastic, but I’d happily help out.

Guest
3 years 4 months ago

I’d sign a petition, write a letter & talk to my local manager.
I’d post a petition on FB.
Collect packaging from TJ’s purchases for a month.
and take pictures.

Guest
emma
3 years 4 months ago

I love Trader Joes yet feel so guilty about all the plastic. I would be willing to support this campaign. They have so many organic, natural, and vegan product yet they are sold in disposable plastic. What annoys me the most is that they sell their soap in plastic. Who needs that? they should as least use cardboard jeez.

Guest
marian linden
3 years 4 months ago

There is a Trader Joes about 30 mins from my house; I go a couple of times a year. Mostly I choose to shop closer to home for the convenience & to save gas (petroleum). I was there about a year ago -this TJ store is 25 mins north of boston. Much more packaging than any other store I go to so I think the packagers/manufacturers are responding to Trader Joe specifications.

I think a campaign is a good idea. honestly, I go for their convenience foods so I’d still only go a few times a year. However, when I go I buy only the frozen foods and skip the produce and other items because of the packaging. But if I could buy more loose produce and more bulk items, I’d pick them up when I bought their frozen ravioli and peking dumplings.

Guest
3 years 4 months ago

In May of 2010, I wrote to Trader Joes about their excessive use of plastic. This was there response:

Vanessa,

We appreciate all the feedback we receive from our customers. We are
always evaluating the information that is available concerning our
packaging.

We evaluate every product for packaging requirements and we continue to
explore economical Earth friendly alternatives that can deliver
freshness and shelf life without preservatives. We are also using
compostible packaging for much of our packaged produce.

We are always working to balance our desire to use as little packaging
as possible with our efforts to keep our products safe, fresh and cost
effective. Since our company philosophy is based on providing quality
merchandise at value prices, we must consider cost in the type of
packaging we choose.

We have forwarded your comments and concerns to our Product Steering
Committee. At Trader Joe’s, we are always striving to improve, and your
comments give us the opportunity to do just that.

Sincerely,
Amy
Trader Joe’s
Customer Relations

This was 2 years ago and no changes have been made. I agree we need to start a campaign. I love this store but I hate their unnecessary use of plastic. Let’s start a written campaign.

Guest
michael
3 years 4 months ago

I shop at that same Tjoes on College Ave!

a) buy the unpackaged produce at Tjoes, or buy unpackaged produce at a different store. Easy as that

b) Ask to talk to the manager and express your desire to see less packaging. Always mention it to the checkout person. And, do it nicely. After the 5th person makes such a comment, someone is likely to pass it up the chain of command

c) While you’re having a nice chat with the staff there, ask them why a Northern California supermarket, less than 100 miles away from the Central Valley, only carries ONE variety of olive oil from California (and 13+ from Spain, Italy, Greece)???

Guest
3 years 4 months ago

A friend took me to Trader Joe’s for the first time a couple years ago. He went on and on about how great their stuff is. Maybe, but all I could see was plastic everywhere and they were so proud of selling reusable cloth bags to carry home the groceries. I won’t ever seek one out again.

Guest
Judy
3 years 4 months ago

Yes, to just about all the questions. I go to the Trader Joe’s in Tempe, AZ but I don’t buy the packaged veggies. I can usually get loose apples, bell peppers, avocadoes, and sometimes potatoes there. Count me in on a campaign!

Guest
3 years 4 months ago

1) Do you shop at Trader Joe’s?

I used to, in Boston.

2) If so, where? What area of the country? Please be as specific as you feel comfortable being.

A TJ’s is coming to Boulder, CO next year so I will definitely go check it out!

3) Do you think Trader Joe’s produce packaging is actually worse than other stores in your area? Why or why not?

I can’t remember, but those pictures are awful! Even the King Soopers here in Boulder, which is not health-minded at all, has hardly any plasticated fruits and veggies.

4) Does your Trader Joe’s offer any produce that is not wrapped in plastic? If so, what kinds of things?

5) What items are the worst offenders? What items would you love to see sold unpackaged?

6) If we started a campaign, what which of the following things would you be willing to do?

•Sign a petition
•Write a letter
•Speak to a store manager
•Forward the petition to all of your contacts via email or social media
•Write a letter to the editor
•Contact organizations that might be interested in helping spread the word
•Organize an action at a local Trader Joe’s
•Collect produce packaging from Trader Joe’s (assuming this is stuff you would have bought anyway) to be used for an action
•Take pictures of packaging at Trader Joe’s and upload to a Facebook page
•Create a video of packaging at Trader Joe’s
•Any other ideas?

I would do all those things except participate in a call to action – I think Boulderites are more into letters and Facebook than actually congregating places. Our Occupy Boulder was about 10 people and a bunch of dogs :-) I would even try to make a video for my blog, though that might be stretching my technological prowess to its limit!

Guest
3 years 4 months ago

1) I do occasionally, but prefer Whole Foods and Earthfare because their produce sections are better and aren’t wrapped in plastic.

2) Mount Pleasent, SC.

3) Compared to the other two big health stores, yes. My local TJ’s has options on some of it produce, but often times the ones in plastic look better than the ones outside of the plastic. Compared to the conventional store that I shop at occasionally it’s about par.

4) It does offer things not wrapped in plastic and the items offered are about the same as your pictures. I haven’t been in my local TJ’s for a little bit, so I don’t know exactly.

5) I remember cucumbers, carrots, squashes and mushrooms being the worse.

6) I would be willing to do the following:
Sign a petition
Write a letter
Speak to a store manager
Forward the petition to all of your contacts via email or social media
Write a letter to the editor
Contact organizations that might be interested in helping spread the word
Participate in action at a local Trader Joe’s
Take pictures of packaging at Trader Joe’s and upload to a Facebook page

Guest
Megan
3 years 4 months ago

I just heard recently and it was confirmed in the pictures above that often grocers are forced to package organic produce because people switch the stickers to pay the conventional price. It seemed as though most of it was the same in the pictures – the conventional limes were loose, the organic limes were packaged – and so on. I mostly only shop at TJ’s for paper products (TP, tissues, etc) because they have the most affordable, highest postconsumer recycled content. This is produce packaging issue is important, but potentially TJ’s is doing better. Costco (only been in there a few time, but wow!) seems to me to be the big culprit. When apples are packaged in clamshells that sets me over the edge. Seems even more imperative to purchase from local farmers and in season! Best of luck with the campaign if you decide on it. I would be anxious to see what happens.

Guest
Kavakado
3 years 4 months ago

I would definitely support less plastic packaging at Trader Joe’s and all stores, but here’s an interesting fact that hasn’t been brought up yet: TJs are well known in the dumpster diving community as being a fabulous place to get “gently used” produce. Why? Because with the packaging on several produce items at once (avocados for example), if one of them gets bruised, TJs throws out the whole package. Often the other ones are in fine shape, and a dumpsterer can take the three of the four avocados and feed his or her cooperative household, a food pantry he or she donates to, etc. See the movie Dive for more info about dumpster diving for sustenance. Plus, the packaging keeps the three intact avocados from getting lost to the bottom of the dumpster or otherwise slimed up or nastified from the other garbage in there.

I don’t say this by way of supporting the excessive packaging–because TJs would be much less wasteful if they didn’t throw away all that intact produce–but it’s sort of a side note that I find interesting.

Guest
Marie
3 years 4 months ago

I live in Canada so don’t go the Trader Joe’s but I just want to chime in to agree with eco cat lady comments about food being handled.
I think we’re a wee bit too paranoid about cleanliness and germs.Fruit and veg can be washed and the general public’s view that “touched” produce is contaminated is one of the reasons that the world finds itself knee deep on plastic.
Yea, you can pick up bugs and germs when you’re out shopping for apples, the only solution for that would be to live in a bubble.

Guest
3 years 4 months ago

I would shop at TJ’s more often if it was near me. However when I visit family in the Chicagoland area I almost always stop in and spend a pretty penny! This means I don’t always purchase produce, but have definitely noticed the plastic!

I don’t think their packaging is worse – the ‘problem’ is that organic more often than not seems to be in plastic as compared to conventional. Like how even if bananas aren’t bagged in plastic, they still have a plastic sticker around them. While I do think they are a company that would listen, it kind of depends on their suppliers too, doesn’t it? I’m not sure if just one chain would make a difference to a supplier. For example, the English cucumbers are always wrapped individually, at any old store, at least from what I have seen.

I think pretty much all produce could come without packaging!

I would sign something, and write a letter.

Guest
Anne Marie Bonneau
3 years 4 months ago

1) I rarely shop at Trader Joe’s anymore due to this very problem.
2) Mountain View and Palo Alto, California
3) Yes, the produce packaging is obscene. Even when I did shop regularly at Trader Joe’s, I avoided the produce. I live near an small open air market–almost all of the produce has zero packaging there. Even the Safeway near me doesn’t package the produce like TJ’s does.
4) Yes–apples, bananas. I’m not sure what else.
5) I’m not sure if they still package peppers on plastic trays, and then wrap the whole thing in plastic. I know basil is in a big plastic clam shell so I can’t buy that.
6) I will sign a petition, write a letter and take pictures of the packaging to upload to a Facebook page.

I was at TJ’s last week and could only buy a few things (maple syrup, olive oil and pickles–all in glass jars with metal lids). The store needs to know that I have money to spend, but can’t spend it there.

Guest
Courtney
3 years 4 months ago

1. Yes, for certain items
2. Orange, Connecticut
3. Yes, Trader Joe’s produce packaging is definitely worse than other stores in the area
4. I think potatoes, onions, lemons, limes, avocadoes, and apples I can buy without plastic packaging
5. Pretty much all the green vegetables are encased in plastic – bell peppers, broccoli, lettuce, spinach, zucchini, etc
6. I would write letters, sign a petition, forward to others in my network

Guest
3 years 4 months ago

Beth, I wrote this post objecting to the plastic packaging at Trader Joe’s: http://blog.biggreenpurse.com/biggreenpurse/2009/01/when-it-comes-to-packaging-trader-joes-can-do-better.html

I have to say, TJ’s footprint is small compared to Safeway, Giant, and the big grocery chains. I can’t help but wonder how to leverage a success at TJs into impact at the big grocery chains. Thanks. Diane

Guest
Laura
3 years 4 months ago

1) Do you shop at Trader Joe’s? Occassionally. Would probably shop there more if less stuff were overpackaged!
2) If so, where? What area of the country? Please be as specific as you feel comfortable being. I was there more when I lived in Las Vegas, but I currently shop at Paramus, NJ and Pikesville, MD (near my parents’ home)
3) Do you think Trader Joe’s produce packaging is actually worse than other stores in your area? Why or why not? Yes because many of the produce items aren’t available loose. There is a small produce dept. in all the Trader Joe’s I’ve been in and almost everything is plastic wrapped with a few exceptions (see below)
4) Does your Trader Joe’s offer any produce that is not wrapped in plastic? If so, what kinds of things? Bananas, oranges, limes, lemons, peppers, apples, potatoes – though occassionally you can only buy these items in the plastic mesh bags or other packaging and not loose at all
5) What items are the worst offenders? What items would you love to see sold unpackaged? Peppers and mushrooms, but there’s really no need for any of the packaging. I’m a picky shopper and I won’t buy produce cellophane wrapped to a tray because of the excess packaging and also because I want to feel the produce and look at it all around to make sure it’s the appropriate firmness, there are not bad spots, etc. The packaging is something people who enjoy cooking should be concerned about for this reason.
6) If we started a campaign, which of the following things would you be willing to do? I wrote a letter a few years ago to my local store (in Vegas; they said the packaging was to protect the produce), but I’d be happy to write letters again, especially to the national chain which probably has more power to change things than a local store. I’d also sign a petition, and ask friends and family to sign a petition and write letters.

I’d also like to say that while Trader Joe’s gives off the image that they should be eco friendly (and clearly they’re not with the packaging), my local grocery store offers some rediculous plastic wrapped items too – like individually wrapped potatoes, or organic bananas in bags (they said they’re in bags because they’re organic and can’t touch non-organic, which I think is rediculous). So targeting Trader Joe’s makes sense, but they’re not the only offender. You’re getting me excited though, so maybe I’ll talk to the manager at my local grocery store about the potatoes and organic bananas too.

Guest
Jeremy
3 years 4 months ago

1) Do you shop at Trader Joe’s? Yes, but less frequently now that I’m eco conscious
2) If so, where? What area of the country? Please be as specific as you feel comfortable being. -NYC
3) Do you think Trader Joe’s produce packaging is actually worse than other stores in your area? Why or why not? Yes,Most supermarkets have many more unpackaged options
4) Does your Trader Joe’s offer any produce that is not wrapped in plastic? If so, what kinds of things? Yes, like: apples, oranges, melons, tomatoes etc
5) What items are the worst offenders? What items would you love to see sold unpackaged? All leafy greens!
6) If we started a campaign, what which of the following things would you be willing to do?
All the things mentioned!

Guest
Morgan
3 years 4 months ago

1) Rarely, specifically because of the over-packaging. I would start going there again if they stopped wrapping everything.
2) Beaverton/Portland OR
3) I run into it at New Seasons too, where organic apples in a plastic bag are half the price of the cheapest loose ones. And organic products in general seem to have an over-packaging problem. But I’m able to avoid wrapped things for the most part everywhere but TJ’s.
5) Produce should be unwrapped. And they should have a bulk section…everyone should have a bulk section!
6) I would
Sign a petition
Write a letter
Speak to a store manager

Guest
Maeve Murphy
3 years 4 months ago

Beth, this posting really struck a chord with me. There’s a Trader Joe’s close to me and there are things I regularly buy there (mostly in glass) but I never buy their produce for just this reason. I think a campaign is sorely needed. I’d be willing to:
• Sign a petition
• Write a letter
• Speak to a store manager
• Forward the petition to all of your contacts via email or social media
• Write a letter to the editor

PS LOVED the Rhod Gilbert piece. Absolutely top notch satire!

Guest
3 years 4 months ago

What a thoughtful way you are considering this campaign! I don’t shop at TJs for anything, except very occasionally when I need cheap wine or something and happen to be near one. I am also still bitter about their original stance on GMOs back on the late 90s, their continued use of GMOs, and non-existent transparency on just about anything.

But, I would help the campaign out in any way I could! I could do just about anything that doesn’t require much mobility. :)

Guest
3 years 4 months ago

P.S. I live in San Jose, CA. On my post and in real life friends have commented about the excessive produce packaging at TJs.

I would also be willing to take notes on what is/ is not packaged in plastic next time I shop there. Or try to, as much as possible, with young crazies with me. I usually shop at the TJ on Coleman by SJ airport or at the Blossom Hill one across the street from WF.

Guest
3 years 4 months ago

The comedic clip at the end is simply brilliant, as are you Beth – thoughtful and thorough post – inquisitive as always and ever so inclusive. I will gladly help, i see this example not only for trader joe’s but other shopping environments also. I don’t shop currently at a TJ’s. Our community does not have one. I resisted them in my former for some time because I felt they were very bait and switch – cheap wine, high priced eggs, unusual items, but sometimes you could not find peanut butter there. This drove me nuts. I found after getting to know the store a bit more I could get things i liked to purchase there for less, but it just wasn’t a one stop shop – which is something i also resisted, oh god i am going to stop another place because i can save $1.00 on nuts. I did find as more of our community frequented the store the food demographic was more the items i liked to buy. I found I went there more. I never purchased meat – all packaged in plastic, anything that had to be zapped and I was particular about what vegetables etc I bought because I observed the ridiculous packaging. I mainly bought tetra pak stocks, grains and nuts, ( sorry I used to stock the bulk bins at whole foods and you really don’t want to know how gross they can get ) a totally cheap pinot grigio and those insane chocolate cocoa almonds because I could actually eat 5 of them and have that be my bit of a chocolate fix. Sometimes I picked up an odd additional item. Currently my kids will bring me items from there and I can say the reason I request this is it’s a super nice price break, especially on nuts and seeds. I mean what makes Trader Joe’s alluring?? Part of me really wonders why things are packaged this way in the first place, and if the bigger fish isn’t really the packaging industry itself. If you get places like Trader Joe’s to create shifts in their specs based on consumer need and wants wouldn’t that be a terrific story? AND as I mentioned before perhaps a path other stores can follow. I wonder if the fact that Trader Joe’s is operated under the Aldi umbrella is a consideration. Fascinates me the contrasting environments. Count on me to share, point and comment accordingly Beth.

Guest
3 years 4 months ago

I am a big TJ fan. Yes, the produce packaging is annoying (it’s b/c they don’t weigh anything), but I don’t think the other packaging is any different than any other store. In part b/c of the excessive packaging (but more b/c I want to support organic, local farmers), I shop almost entirely for product at the farmer’s market and through my CSA. I still shop at TJs about once every 2 months for packaged and deli foods I cannot find elsewhere (or which are much more affordable here than at Whole Foods). I won’t shop there more often if they change the produce packaging, but I will buy more produce while I’m there if they do.

I would be willing to:
Sign a petition
Write a letter
Speak to a store manager

Also, post on FB and tweet and write a blog post.

Guest
julsie
3 years 4 months ago

I heard goof things about Trader Joe’s, so I walked through one in the Richmond, VA area once. As far as I could tell, the bananas were the only thing in the entire store that wasn’t packaged in plastic. So I never went back.

I’d sign a petition.

Guest
Laura
3 years 4 months ago

1) Only for a few items that I want (I don’t buy produce there because of all the plastic & because when possible I shop farmer’s markets for locally grown produce).
2) St. Louis (mostly Brentwood, or Des Peres stores)
3) Yes! It’s difficult to buy just one of anything. I think they are going for bulk to offset their lower prices.
4) I imagine they do, but I don’t look any more.
5) Most of the vegetables are in plastic. I don’t want any of it packaged.
6) I would:

Sign a petition
Write a letter
Forward the petition to contacts via email or social media
Take pictures of packaging at Trader Joe’s and upload to a Facebook page

Guest
D.C.
3 years 4 months ago

1) I used to shop there most of the time, but had to stop due to the plastic and lack of organics.
2) Oakland, CA
3) Yes. Nearly all the produce is loose at other stores. Lots of bulk bins at other stores too.
4) When I stopped shopping there it seemed the movement was towards more plastic instead of less.
5) I would love to see all produce unpackaged, and bulk bins for dry goods.
6) If we started a campaign, what which of the following things would you be willing to do?
Everything on the list. One thing I would not want to do is bug people to sign a petition at the front door of any business. I think people have a right not to be harassed, even if it’s for their own good.

Guest
3 years 4 months ago

Hmmm… well, aside from the occasional comment or post on the web, I have never heard of Trader Joe’s. I assume it’s some sort of natural grocery chain? Needless to say, we don’t have them here in Denver.

But, I’m mostly writing to respond to sari’s comment. I really, REALLY don’t understand the paranoia about food being “handled” by other people. I mean really folks, just about everything we come in contact with has been touched by many, many people before us. And why is this such a big deal? Isn’t that why we wash our produce? I mean for god’s sake, I garden and I KNOW that much of what comes out of my plot has had birds shitting on it, dogs slobbering on it and god knows what else.

I don’t mean this to be a criticism of sari in particular, because I know she’s only mirroring the attitude of the general public. I just don’t understand it. It’s like everyone has bought into some sort of fallacy that we live in a sanitized world.

Anyhow, I’m curious to know what other people think on that topic.