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Trader Joe's Produce, letters and suggestions?
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StaceyANYC
1
March 26, 2012 - 2:02 pm

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 th community here, to ask please write letters too.  If you are familiar with this store, you know 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.  

Im 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!

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Beth Terry
397 Posts
(Offline)
2
March 26, 2012 - 2:26 pm

Hi Stacy.  Would you consider writing a petition on Change.org?   I would work with you on it if you write up a draft.  Are there particular products that you would like them to address first?  The more specific we can be, the better chance of success. It’s important for us to combine all our voices, instead of a letter here and a letter there.

Feel free to email me directly at beth [at] myplasticfreelife [dot] com.

I have additional questions for you.

 

Beth

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Jeremybot
3
March 30, 2012 - 7:24 am

This is a really great idea. I am (and used to be a more) frequent shopper at the TraderJoes on the UWS but since so much of what they sell comes with plastics that cannot be recycled through the municipal recycling in NYC I will not buy those items from there. I would be happy to sign and help promote this petition. 

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Clancy
4
March 30, 2012 - 9:37 am

I’m behind this, too, and will sign a petition if you get it together.  I’ve recently switched to shopping at Whole Foods to avoid the plastic-wrapped produce.  The items I just bought today that I’d like to get at TJ’s are organic spinach, kale and romaine lettuce.  That’s a beginning but there is soooo much more — fruit, potatoes, onions, etc.  TJ’s has conventional produce unwrapped but not organic.  I was told by a clerk at WF that there is some issue with the conventional and organic items touching each other, which disqualifies the organic from being truly organic.  Somehow they manage that at WF, though.  TJ’s is a much smaller store and the majority of their greens are prepackaged.  I wonder if they are willing to make this big change.

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Beth Terry
397 Posts
(Offline)
5
March 30, 2012 - 10:57 am

Would you guys be interested in working on a real action campaign?  I am very drawn to this issue.  I’ve been looking for a good campaign to get behind ever since spearheading the successful Take Back The Filter campaign to get Brita to take back and recycled its water filter cartridges.

The thing is, I want to be involved in an action that has a real chance of success and whose success can be measured.  It’s important to create a petition that addresses all of TJ’s arguments for why they can’t/won’t stop using so much plastic packaging, gives examples of companies that don’t package their organic produce, and ask TJ’s for some very specific actions.

To ask them to reduce or remove their produce packaging is too broad.  I think it’s important to research exactly what items are being packaged in plastic and in what geographical areas and to target the items that would seem to be the easiest for them to change right away.  It’s also important to know exactly what their objections are.  In the Brita campaign, we did this by writing letters to Brita and seeing the responses in the form letters we got back.

Anyway, there are millions of petitions now that sites like Change.org and Care2 exist.  Most of them fail because the petition writers did not take the time to do some basic homework or because they didn’t have the stamina to stick it out and keep promoting it.

Would you guys be willing to get involved and do more than sign a petition?  Let’s discuss.

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Beth Terry
397 Posts
(Offline)
6
March 30, 2012 - 10:59 am

Just tossing out ideas here so I won’t forget…

 

One possible step would be for me to write a blog post and ask readers what plastic-packaged items bother them the most at their local TJ’s.  Then, I could put up a poll and get people to vote on the items they think are most important to target first.

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Jeremybot
7
March 31, 2012 - 3:07 pm

I would certainly be interested. I am involved in some projects at the moment with the Plastic Pollution Coalition here in NY and perhaps we could also offer assistance with this kind of project as well. 

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Beth Terry
397 Posts
(Offline)
8
April 1, 2012 - 12:57 pm

Hi Jeremybot and Pat.  Would you guys be willing, in the next few days, to go to TJ’s and surreptitiously take pictures of plastic-wrapped produce?  Whatever you think are the worst offenders.  Do it covertly because if an employee catches you taking pictures, they will probably ask you to stop.  I take pictures in stores all the time, but I make sure no one’s watching me.

I’ll take some pictures today at my own TJ’s.

I want to write a blog post about this issue this week and ask the rest of the readers of this blog what they think are the products to target first and for them to upload pictures too if possible.

I’m excited about this!

I’ll make a Facebook page as soon as we have our ducks in a row, but I don’t want to jump the gun until we know exactly what we are asking them to do specifically and exactly who we are targeting.

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Jeremybot
9
April 1, 2012 - 10:55 pm

I will actually be out of the country for the next couple weeks so I will snap some pictures when I return. Looking forward to working on this

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Clancy
10
April 2, 2012 - 6:13 am

Okay, I’ll give it  try.  Using the phone to take pictures would probably be the least conspicuous, and I’m not very practiced at doing that.  Wish me luck!

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Beth Terry
397 Posts
(Offline)
11
April 2, 2012 - 10:31 am

Hey, guys.  I visited my local Oakland Trader Joe’s yesterday and noticed that they seem to be offering a choice of plastic-packaged or loose produce. For example, there were loose, individual limes right next to plastic-bagged limes; individual peppers next to peppers on a plastic-wrapped plastic tray; loose potatoes next to bags of potatoes, etc.  So customers actually have a choice of taking plastic packaging or not.  I didn’t think to notice how different the prices were.  I should check that and see if the packaged produce is much less expensive than the loose produce.  That would make a difference practically.

Anyway, I’m wondering if this offering of loose produce is only true for eco-minded Bay Area stores or if it’s the same way in other parts of the country.  If you do go and visit Trader Joe’s, please note whether there are loose produce options for each of the plastic-packaged options.

Also, I noticed that some of the rigid plastic containers and trays are made from compostable PLA rather than fossil-based plastic.  PLA is not the wonder material that many people think it is–it will only actually compost in an industrial compost facility that accepts bio-plastics and it’s generally made from GMO corn grown with lots of fertilizer and pesticides.  What’s more, the plastic wrap around the trays is not compostable!  But I would still be interested to know what percentage of the plastic containers TJ’s is using in various parts of the country are made from PLA or other compostable plastic and how much is conventional plastic that can be recycled and conventional plastic that cannot be recycled.

These are questions I will ask in my blog post, for sure.

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StaceyANYC
12
April 2, 2012 - 5:48 pm

Hi Beth, I emailed you about what I found at my local Trader Joes (72nd street, NYC). But I’ll include it here so others know my findings as well.

There are unwrapped options for apples, pears, oranges and bananas and most peppers (excluding jalapeños).
Plums and peaches were only offered in plastic containers covered in plastic mesh with a plastic handle.
Eggplant, avocado, most potatoes and tomatoes offered non packaged options.
Most other vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, squash (zucchini and yellow), cucumbers, cabbage, mushrooms and artichokes (plus additional ones that I did not specifically note) are ONLY offered in plastic packaging.  The organic variety tend to be packaged in cardboard containers with plastic wrap, while the non-organic varieties were mostly packaged in plastic or styrofoam containers covered in plastic wrap.

 

I did not notice what type of plastic, PLA or otherwise, the packaging was made of.  I can take a closer look on my next visit.  I’m interested to see what other people find.

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Beth Terry
397 Posts
(Offline)
13
April 4, 2012 - 3:13 pm

Hey gang.  Here is the post I put up today:

/2012/04/what-do-you-think-of-the-plastic-produce-packaging-at-trader-joes-nowadays/

Please read and leave your feedback in the comments.  Thanks!

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Jeremybot
14
April 13, 2012 - 4:32 pm

Hi Beth –

I am now back from my trip and made it over to my local TJ’s (the same as Stacey’s) yesterday. I took a bunch of pictures, how should I get them over to you?

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Beth Terry
397 Posts
(Offline)
15
April 13, 2012 - 5:49 pm

Thanks.  You can email them to beth [at] myplasticfreelife [dot] com.

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Dana
16
July 25, 2012 - 3:20 pm

I have contacted Trader Joes to say that I don’t buy poultry there because it’s always packaged in styrofoam, and also that I like their free trade coffee but would like an alternative to the plastic cover, as well as plastic laden produce.

I think it’d be better to actually find alternatives to plastic that we could suggest. I don’t know what other greener grocery stores do, other than offer a less bulk items. Mushroom or soy or cardboard? I have bought cardboard containers at TJ’s for their tomatoes.

BTW, my local TJ’s just trashes their old produce and doesn’t give it a food kitchen. Seems like a huge waste. Once again, I suggested this to the branch. The guy throwing out lots of bananas said that even the employees aren’t allowed to take it home! Oh well, another issue beyond plastic.

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Dana
17
August 7, 2013 - 2:33 pm

Did someone already start a Trader Joe’s petition regarding plastic? If not, I saw this one online:

http://www.causes.com/TJ-plastic

 

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