Stop Trader Joe’s From Using Too Much Plastic

Target: Trader Joe’s CEO Dan Bane

Goal: Stop Trader Joe’s from the unnecessary use of plastic packaging on their produce

Trader Joe’s seems to have a love for packaging, as seen on produce ranging from avocados to zucchini. Putting plastic wrap around produce is pointless and devastating to the environment. Trader Joe’s has 418 stores across the US, and therefore supplies many people with produce.  In fact, in 2008 they had the most sales per square foot of any grocery store and in 2010 were shown to have outsold Whole Foods by 200% based on the same criteria. While the success of Trader Joe’s is positive in many ways, it also means that an extraordinary amount of environmentally damaging plastic from the store’s produce packaging winds up in the trash.

Trader Joe’s has taken other actions to make their stores environmentally friendly. They stock organic meats, renounce the use of genetically modified organisms in their “Trader Joe’s brand” products, and have changed their fish suppliers and varieties based on sustainable catching and farming.

That Trader Joe’s is otherwise environmentally conscious makes their blatant misuse of plastic packaging even more disheartening. The most recent study on municipal solid waste (MSW) done by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shows that out of the 251 million tons of waste produced in the US each year, 30% of that (over 75 million tons) comes from containers and packaging, like plastic wrap.  No doubt, the use of plastic on Trader Joe’s produce has contributed to this number. We have to take a stand against stores that use unnecessary plastic and packaging. Tell Trader Joe’s to stop using plastic on their produce.


Dear Mr. Bane,

As the CEO of Trader Joe’s, you have the responsibility to respond to the needs of your customers.  Your company has stores across the country and serves a diverse population.  In the past, it has made significant efforts to meet the desires of its customers by offering organic meats, poultry, and dairy products, as well as prohibiting the use of GMO’s in the “Trader Joe’s brand” products.  Trader Joe’s also responded to Greenpeace’s low 2008 seafood sustainability ranking by altering its products and searching for sustainably caught or farmed fish. These efforts show an interest in both pleasing the customer as well as taking steps to support the environment. However, the produce section leaves a lot to be desired in terms of environmental sustainability.

It is not necessary to wrap individual items like broccoli, zucchini, or summer squash in plastic before sale.  All of that plastic just ends up in the trash. The EPA’s 2012 study on municipal solid waste (MSW) shows that out of the 251 million tons of waste produced in the US each year, 30% of that, or over 75 million tons, comes from containers and packaging.  No doubt, the use of plastic on Trader Joe’s produce has contributed to this number. Your customers do not want or need this abundance of plastic.  We demand a change in this practice and hope that you will see the social and environmental benefit you could create by doing so.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Jamie Hill

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One Comment

  1. @Rebecca – Nature makes a lot of fruit and vegetables with built-in packaging. Why add an extra layer?

    However, I think Trader Joe’s might be doing it to stop people poking at the produce and maybe damaging it, or to control how much you buy. I buy most of my produce somewhere else, because of the excessive packaging and also because I have to buy 5 tomatoes when I want two.

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