“You can’t actually throw things away. There is no away,” says Joylette Portlock. And she should know. Portlock is Executive Director of the nonprofit Sustainable Pittsburgh. As she points out, everything we toss in the trash eventually ends up in landfills, which are more and more filled with single use plastics, like the 14 billion shopping bags Americans use and discard each year.
Portlock and her group joined supermarket chain Giant Eagle when they announced Tuesday they will phase out all single-use plastics in their 460+ stores by 2025. The chain is the 40th largest private company in the U.S., with stores in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virgina, Indiana and Maryland. They join the nation’s largest grocery chain, Kroger, in making the pledge to eliminate plastics in the next five years:
Starting Jan. 15, Giant Eagle will end the use of plastic grocery bags at its Market District store in the Waterworks shopping plaza in Pittsburgh, at the GetGo convenience store in nearby O’Hara Township, PA., and Ohio stores in Cuyahoga County and Bexley, a suburb of Columbus. The program will eventually be expanded systemwide.
These locations will no longer offer single-use plastic shopping bags at checkout. Instead, they will offer:
-“Fuel Perks” (small discounts at their affiliated GetGo gas stations) for customers who use their own reusable bags
-High quality reusable bags available for $0.99 each
-Paper bags available for $0.10 each (customers paying with food assistance programs would be exempt from this fee)
Reducing our dependence on single-use plastics is part of a nationwide trend. Eight states: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New York, Oregon, and Vermont have all banned single-use plastic bags. In addition to plastic bags, Giant Eagle is also looking to eliminate plastic drinking straws, bottled water, and some plastic packaging.
But you don’t have to wait until 2025. If you’re interested in reducing your use of single-use plastics, there are plenty of ways you can start today. Use reusable items – grocery bags, water bottles, etc. Opt for paper bags instead of plastic. Buy in bulk to reduce the amount of packaging you use.
The Giant Eagle announcement ended with the leaders signing an 8 foot tall “pledge,” which read: “I pledge to do my part in the community to help create a more sustainable planet for years to come. I commit to make every effort to avoid single-use plastics and encourage those around me to do the same.”
If you’re reading this and you’ve decided that you want to do your part for the environment, you’re a part of that pledge, too. For more information about Giant Eagle’s commitment to sustainability, click here. To contribute to the mission of Sustainable Pittsburgh and to learn how you can help, click here