Whole Foods?

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Brooke Loriemr Brooke Loriemr
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Whole Foods?

Hello Zero Wasters!

I attempted a grocery shop at the Whole Foods on Pearl Street in Boulder, CO on Sunday morning (I have not shopped in bulk there yet) and I when I went to the service counter to get my jars weighed the representative told me that they can no longer let customers bring their own bulk
containers to the store do to a health/safety hazard. I asked him if my bulk bags where okay, he said no, they no longer let customers bring their own bulk anything.

As some of you may know in Boulder, CO there is a 10 cent bag tax if you don't bring your own reusable bag to the checkout line to haul the groceries home, so I find it very perplexing that a grocery store here would only let customers use their plastic bags to get bulk.

Another part of my frustration is that in a lot of the interviews Bea does where she is shopping in a store in California it seems to be Whole Foods (unless I am mistaken?) so I find it silly that a Whole Foods in CA welcomes zero waste shoppers, and is even willing to let someone film their lifestyle about it in their store, but a Whole Foods in CO has declared you cannot bring your own bulk resources to the store.

I plan to research this so called law/policy more, to see if it actually exists, and possibly go back and speak to a manager, while also being in communication with my local zero waste community about proactive soultions.

Please let me know if any of you have come across this before, espically in a place where there is often green washing, and possibly if you have any tips or ideas to try or look into.

It seems the message of zero waste is spreading, which is exciting, though I hope my local Whole Foods realizes that I want to be their friend and consumer, even though I live a zero waste lifestyle!

SublimeT SublimeT
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Re: Whole Foods?

I agree that it is a hypocritical message! I called my local WF in LA and was told I could bring my own containers. So I would call and ask for someone in the office during normal business hours rather than talking to an employee on the sales floor.

Also I think that a lot of retail employees are trained to follow rules and so you may need a manager that knows it is ok to explain to the employee how to help you weigh and label your containers. If they aren't used to doing this, maybe they assume it's because you can't. 

If all else fails, tweet them and I have heard people getting much faster responses and better solutions with airlines as an example. So that is worth a try. 

Best,
T

Sent from my iPhone

On Feb 15, 2016, at 4:15 PM, Brooke Loriemr [via Forum] <[hidden email]> wrote:

Hello Zero Wasters!

I attempted a grocery shop at the Whole Foods on Pearl Street in Boulder, CO on Sunday morning (I have not shopped in bulk there yet) and I when I went to the service counter to get my jars weighed the representative told me that they can no longer let customers bring their own bulk
containers to the store do to a health/safety hazard. I asked him if my bulk bags where okay, he said no, they no longer let customers bring their own bulk anything.

As some of you may know in Boulder, CO there is a 10 cent bag tax if you don't bring your own reusable bag to the checkout line to haul the groceries home, so I find it very perplexing that a grocery store here would only let customers use their plastic bags to get bulk.

Another part of my frustration is that in a lot of the interviews Bea does where she is shopping in a store in California it seems to be Whole Foods (unless I am mistaken?) so I find it silly that a Whole Foods in CA welcomes zero waste shoppers, and is even willing to let someone film their lifestyle about it in their store, but a Whole Foods in CO has declared you cannot bring your own bulk resources to the store.

I plan to research this so called law/policy more, to see if it actually exists, and possibly go back and speak to a manager, while also being in communication with my local zero waste community about proactive soultions.

Please let me know if any of you have come across this before, espically in a place where there is often green washing, and possibly if you have any tips or ideas to try or look into.

It seems the message of zero waste is spreading, which is exciting, though I hope my local Whole Foods realizes that I want to be their friend and consumer, even though I live a zero waste lifestyle!




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coldswim coldswim
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Re: Whole Foods?

Technically it's not a bag "tax" at the checkout counter, you're paying for a bag instead of bringing your own. The same thing is done here in CA.  

I really don't understand the hypocrisy of this issue either. But at the checkout stand, you're getting ready to leave the store with the products. At a meat counter or whatever, you're handing your personal bag/jar to an employee who handles food for other customers, so that might be the difference.  If that's the issue, why don't they just put on a pair of vinyl/latex gloves to handle your specific food items and your jars and then toss the gloves?  Problem solved.

I avoid Whole Foods. Ironically, I live within walking distance of a WF but I've never been inside it. I just can't stand Mackey's attitude towards workers and the only way you'll get me inside a WF is with a loaded gun to my head. But I frequently see people with jars at Rainbow, and they're a smaller enterprise by orders of magnitude compared to WF.  They don't seem to be concerned about any "health and safety" issues.

You should continue pressing. Find a manager at the times you're there.  Policies can change if enough people make enough noise.  Let us know if anything you try works with these people!
Joey Joey
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Re: Whole Foods?

In reply to this post by Brooke Loriemr
Hey Brooke! I had a weird thing like that happen to me too, but in California! After reading about Bea and watching a video of her at Whole Foods buying in bulk, I decided to go to a Whole Foods on the way back from work. I live in Los Angeles but work in the San Fernando Valley, which is about 40 minutes away. I went to a Whole Foods near the Glendale area, and was told by 3 different employees that I could not use my jar to buy in bulk. I was so confused as Bea lives in California. I asked one employee if this is the case for all Whole Foods in California, and he said yes, but he looked as though he was guessing at my question. So much for my first attempt at buying in bulk! I was also told that the most they could subtract from my jar was .29 ounces, and not the .89 my mason jar actually weighs at. I was so upset. One employee put my wild rice in a plastic bag to weigh and then said I could put it back in my jar. I told him (in my nicest tone) that it defeated the purpose, as the bag was used and would be thrown away if I gave it back to him, so I ended up taking the bag and I will be keeping it to be used as my first item I put in my trash jar as a memory.

It's been really hard. Even using my own cups at Starbucks has been a hassle. They write my order down on a separate cup then dispose it, which also defeats the purpose! Now that they consider me a "regular" they don't do it as much, but I still find it happening every once in a while, which makes me consider just making my coffee at home. I'm learning a lot in the process, I just wish it was easier!
A-girl A-girl
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Re: Whole Foods?

In reply to this post by Brooke Loriemr
I haven't had the gumption to bring jars to the meet/deli counters yet, so I applaud your attempt!

I live up the road in Fort Collins and we have a local co-op that encourages bringing your own container. They have a huge bulk section (including liquids and toiletries) and I have made many bulk purchases there. I also use my own bags for bulk items at Sprouts and sometimes get strange looks. I don't ask them to subtract the tare for these because I believe their system doesn't accommodate it (use lightweight net ones for dried beans). I rarely shop at WF.

Bea does shop at WF in Mill Valley, CA. I suspect your local WF rejection is less of a genuine law, than preventative advice from their lawyers or a higher up in the organization. I encourage you to push store management and regional management and national management to allow you to bring your own containers. I find it funny when they claim health/safety because once I leave the store who knows what I do with the package (if I don't refrigerate/freeze or if I cross-contaminate the item then regardless of their packaging, the food will not be safe to eat).

Keep trying!
Catherine Catherine
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Re: Whole Foods?

The Whole Foods in San Francisco all have different policies, so it is not a matter of government regulation, but an issue with knowledge and training, and individual store policy.

One store has no problem putting my meat and fish in jars; another consistently says it's against their policy and they are not allowed to do it. The guy at the counter apologized and said his old store in Santa Cruz, they used to put meat and fish in people's containers all the time. At that same store, however, the manager recently asked to photograph my jars filled with bulk items (including cheese from the salad bar) so he could train employees about tares and food safety. He said a lot of employees are simply unaware that people bring their own containers and couldn't even imagine what it would look like. A lot of times, they don't understand how to set a higher tare.

On the other hand, at the store where they allow me to use jars for meat, the people at the cheese counter won't cut cheese from the wheel for me, but instead unwrap cheese from the shelf and put in it my jar. They insisted it was ok since they recycled the plastic. This happened so many times I stopped buying cheese from them. I now just buy cheese at Rainbow, where they will not put it in my jars but they at least will wrap it in paper if I call 24 hours ahead. It's a pain and I don't always remember to do it, but it's the best I can do for now.

It really does seem to be a matter of ignorance rather than regulation.


SublimeT SublimeT
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Re: Whole Foods?

You might get a better reaction if you tweet WF rather than on this forum. I love this forum, but WF needs to hear from people that they are inconsistent.

On Mon, Mar 7, 2016 at 9:14 PM, Catherine [via .] <[hidden email]> wrote:
The Whole Foods in San Francisco all have different policies, so it is not a matter of government regulation, but an issue with knowledge and training, and individual store policy.

One store has no problem putting my meat and fish in jars; another consistently says it's against their policy and they are not allowed to do it. The guy at the counter apologized and said his old store in Santa Cruz, they used to put meat and fish in people's containers all the time. At that same store, however, the manager recently asked to photograph my jars filled with bulk items (including cheese from the salad bar) so he could train employees about tares and food safety. He said a lot of employees are simply unaware that people bring their own containers and couldn't even imagine what it would look like. A lot of times, they don't understand how to set a higher tare.

On the other hand, at the store where they allow me to use jars for meat, the people at the cheese counter won't cut cheese from the wheel for me, but instead unwrap cheese from the shelf and put in it my jar. They insisted it was ok since they recycled the plastic. This happened so many times I stopped buying cheese from them. I now just buy cheese at Rainbow, where they will not put it in my jars but they at least will wrap it in paper if I call 24 hours ahead. It's a pain and I don't always remember to do it, but it's the best I can do for now.

It really does seem to be a matter of ignorance rather than regulation.





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Brooke E Brooke E
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Re: Whole Foods?

In reply to this post by Brooke Loriemr