For many years, Trader Joe’s was my main stop for groceries, booze and dog food. But as I wrote more about the environmental cost of single-use plastic, I started noticing how much plastic I was bringing home as part of the weekly Trader Joe’s haul – and was appalled.
American grocery stores in general sell a tremendous amount of products encased in some sort of plastic packaging. But Trader Joe’s, it seemed, had taken it to a whole new, horrifying level: Persian cucumbers entombed in hard plastic shells. Tomatoes ensconced in crinkly plastic bags. Individually wrapped tea bags. Greeting cards encased in protective plastic film. For crying out loud, that’s not even food!
So, my Trader Joe’s runs tapered off to occasional jaunts for wine and the few things I couldn’t find elsewhere (hello, blue cheese mustard). Now, I rely on farmers markets for the bulk of my groceries, which still push way too much plastic on customers, in my opinion, and grocery stores with bulk grains and seed bins that don’t mind if you fill up with reusable bags from home.
I’m not the only customer who has been turned off by the chain’s volume of plastic packaging. In the Feb. 4 edition of the “Inside Trader Joe’s” podcast, a crew member at the Silver Lake store said that when people find out where she works, “their first thing is always, ‘Oh, my God, I love Trader Joe’s.’ And the second thing is, ‘Why do you use so much plastic?’ ”
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