Trader Joe's is pretty great. They have so many options in produce, frozen foods, snacks, wine, beer and more. And they're pretty reasonably priced and might have the friendliest staff, ever. Yet the store keeps making us love it more and more. During an episode of the store's podcast, Inside Trader Joe's, Jack Salamon, who manages the produce department, shared that Trader Joe's is slashing its prices on produce to better the environment. (Hey, we are not complaining!)
How They're Cutting Down
Trader Joe's has been working to lower the amount of plastic packing materials they use in products, and produce is a huge section where plastic is often involved. However, by cutting down on plastic, they're going to be able to lower price costs as a result."The cost of putting those two little heads of garlic in a sleeve added a lot to our costs. But now, you can go to Trader Joe's and get a big clove of garlic for 49 cents," Salamon said during the podcast.
After getting negative feedback in regard to their individual packaging on produce items (think garlic, onions, potatoes and cucumbers), they chose to take action and fix the problem. How did they do that? Trader Joe's sought to get rid of 1 million pounds of plastic throughout its store locations, where the produce that didn't need to be wrapped in plastic could go without it. "We had a goal to eliminate a million pounds of plastic from our stores over this year and we've surpassed that. We are on track to eliminate 4 million pounds of plastic from our stores in 2019 and 2½ million pounds of that plastic has come directly out of the produce section," Salamon explained.
And for items that sort of can't be in other containers, like blueberries or watermelon, the team is looking for other ways to package them, which could be thinner use of plastic to cut back on amount per item or other eco-friendly alternatives that could work. "Some things we need packaging on. It's hard to sell loose blueberries. So right now we're testing in some of our stores two things. One is the fiber till with a plastic over wrap. Again, it's some plastic, but it's a lot less plastic," Salamon said.
What is fiber till? It is similar to a cardboard. "It's biodegradable, compostable," he said. Or "thinner plastic," which is "more recyclable container with a plastic over wrap," he continued.
Well, TJ's we are impressed, and we want to thank you for making our wallets a bit heavier in the process. Good all around!
Can't wait to make a TJ's run? We compiled a list of the best and worst deals at Trader Joe's to help you next time you go.