Trader Joe's will reduce plastic and packaging to be a better earth neighbor
"Neighborhood" retailer Trader Joe's has announced their company will be taking steps to cut back in plastic and packaging waste, thanks to a Greenpeace petition that let the company know consumers wanted change.

We love Trader Joe's for so many reasons. But, while we love their commitment to being a 'neighborhood' grocery store, we often wish there was a greater focus on controlling environmental impact. Many of those reasonably priced, clean and organic products we love to buy are often packaged with wasteful materials that take generations to decompose.

Greenpeace launched a petition that had over 100,000 signatures, requesting Trader Joe's look at how they can reduce their plastic waste and more carefully manage the impact the grocery chain has on our environment. TJ's listened, and recently announced they were working toward making packaging more sustainable.

Related: What We Learned Going One Week (Almost) Plastic Free!

Kenya Friend-Daniel is the public relations director for Trader Joe's, and in an email with EcoWatch, said that they feel it's important for them to be the great neighbor their customers deserve. This means that they want to work on protecting the environment along with their customers, and they plan a number of positive changes that will help reduce their adverse impact.

Already, they've cut the use of plastic carryout bags and they are replacing plastic produce bags and styrofoam meat trays with more easily compostable offerings.

Sadly, only a quarter of the plastics produced in the United States are recycled, even though the benefits of recycling are numerous. Annually, enough plastic is thrown away that it could circle the earth entirely four times, and recycling requires almost 90% less energy than making plastic from new, raw materials. Recycling just three-quarters of plastics on the earth could save up to a billion gallons of oil and open up nearly 44 million cubic yards of landfill space a year. Every year, folks.

David Pinsky is with Greenpeace U.S.A and said that on a daily basis, every minute the equivalent of a truckload of plastic goes into our oceans. These plastics devastate marine life, and in turn, take their tolls on us in the forms of damaging sea salt, seafood, tap water and even our air. And, because recycling is such a small percentage of plastic reduction, it's imperative that we simply stop making and using so much plastic.

Related: LEGO Committed to Sustainable Production By 2030 With Sugarcane Bricks

Trader Joe's joins retailers like the UK food retailer A.S.D.A, who says they will no longer use single-use cups and cutlery starting later this year. McDonald's has promised that 100% of its product packaging will be from recycled, renewable or certified sustainable sources over the course of the next seven years and Evian has shared that they will be carbon neutral and plastic-free by 2020. Even Lego has committed to sustainability by 2020, and they're a huge maker and user of plastics.

Pinsky says this is good news from Trader Joe's and encourages people to continue pressuring corporations and governments to move away from throwaway plastics in favor of reusable, recycled and sustainable products for the betterment of the earth as a whole.

Photo: Kristi Blokhin/Shutterstock