At the end of 2018, grocery store chain Trader Joe’s announced that it would be making moves to cut out one million pounds of “single-use” plastics in its over 500 stores as soon as possible. Besides getting rid of all plastic bags, the company set out a list of the things it was going to take action on in this pursuit, including reducing plastic packaging, looking into renewable and recyclable packaging, and helping to educate its customers on how to best recycle the packaging being purchased at a Trader Joe’s store. However, Trader Joe’s has already taken steps far in advance of other large outlets.

  • We replaced plastic produce bags with biodegradable & compostable produce bags for the convenience of carrying loose or “by-the-each” fruits and vegetables.
  • We eliminated any remaining Styrofoam packages in our produce section and replaced them with bio-based, compostable trays.
  • We identified for our vendors the substances that we want to avoid in our packaging, including: Bisphenol A (BPA) & Bisphenol S (BPS); Nonylphenol Ethoxylates (NPEs); Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS); Polystyrene (PS); Styrene; Phthalates.
  • We put together information for our customers about packaging materials and disposal opportunities, so you can make informed and responsible decisions with these packaging materials.

Trader Joe’s began in California and still has its biggest presence in the Golden State. California has a large environmentalist movement, with a lot of organizations putting pressure on companies like Trader Joe’s to make environmentally conscious decisions. California is also one of the areas of the world with a front-row seat to the grotesquery of plastic waste. The plastics initiative came after a series of campaigns petitioning Trader Joe’s to do something about its packaging—deemed excessive by many—built up speed during the latter half of 2018. A spokesperson for, the website that handled one petition, told SFGate that Trader Joe’s is frequently petitioned to get “the company to open a store in their community. This is one of the first that has gained traction that is focused on food packaging.”

The pollution of our earth is all of a piece. What happens in our skies and in our ground, deep under water and to our soil feeds the dangerous deterioration of our planet’s habitability for humans. This is one effort, while still a drop in the bucket, by a company that has shown itself to be more community- and worker-friendly than many have been so far.