Natural Grocers Axes 300M+ Single-Use Plastic Bags

Retailer also gives $1M to food banks in dual-purpose promo
As part of its sustainability initiatives, Natural Grocer encourages the use of reusable bags like its Ladybug Love Pouch Bag

Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage has revealed that as of March 31, it has eliminated an estimated 300 million-plus single-use plastic bags and reached $1 million in total food bank donations across its 152 stores – equating to more than 4 million meals for the needy.

Since Earth Day 2009, the Lakewood, Colo.-based natural food retailer hasn’t offered single-use plastic bags at its checkouts, and has donated 5 cents to local food banks every time a shopper uses a reusable bag to pack groceries.

“We are drowning in a sea of plastic, which is causing harm to people and the planet,” noted Natural Grocers EVP Heather Isely. “Additionally, there are people in our communities that are food insecure. 10 years ago, we saw an opportunity to make a difference and address both plastic waste and hunger simultaneously.

“The impact of eliminating single-use bags from our stores is enormous,” added Kemper Isley, the company’s co-president. “As a business, the ripple effect of our choices can redefine the future. 10 years ago, we chose to ditch single-use bags during checkout. We thank our customers for supporting this important initiative over the past decade and for making the decision to shop with reusable bags.”

During the month of April, Natural Grocers will double its donation to local food banks to 10 cents, benefiting nearly 70 food banks in 19 states, as well as donating $1 for each purchase of its new Ladybug Love reusable shopping bag, which sells for $2.99. The bag also highlights the company’s initiative to get shoppers to pledge that, beginning this Earth Day, April 22, they will “never use chemicals that harm ladybugs or other beneficial insects on my lawn or garden and to support 100% organic produce.”

For every pledge made, Natural Grocers will donate 10 cents, up to a total donation of $25,000, to Beyond Pesticides, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization that works with allies to protect public health and the environment. Additionally, the retailer will hold a three-day sale April 22-24 on products from a range of earth-friendly suppliers. On Earth Day itself, the company will offer customers a free reusable shopping bag with purchase and the opportunity to win Natural Grocers gift cards.

“We hope our customers make a renewed effort to shop with reusable shopping bags during the month of April, and every day, because their local community food bank and the environment benefits every time they do,” said Kemper Isely.

Natural Grocers typically offers free recycled boxes or reusable shopping bags for purchase, starting at 99 cents, for customers who don’t bring their own bags.

The company’s many other eco-friendly practices include supporting sustainable and regenerative agricultural practices; energy-efficient heating and cooling practices; solar-powered store signs and paper towel dispensers; BPA-free cash register tape; using sustainable non-toxic construction materials, including no and low-VOC (volatile organic chemical) paint; minimum-sufficient packaging on Natural Grocers brand products; recycling shipping pallets and the plastic used to wrap them; upcycling most of the cardboard used to ship products to its stores by reusing it to box groceries and supplements; and composting and community gardens at select locations.

Natural Grocers employs more than 3,500 employees.

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