It fills me with overwhelming pride to walk into my local FreshCo and see that there’s not a plastic bag in sight. Customers seem to have officially converted to reusable bags, and I had something to do with that.
Let me explain. As a Sustainability Specialist at Sobeys, I’m part of the team that realized an incredible feat: being the first national grocery chain to eliminate all single-use plastic bags at checkouts!
Removing plastic bags across Canada
The campaign was announced in July 2019 and, by January 31, 2020, all 255 Sobeys stores across Canada had successfully said goodbye. Additionally, by October 2020, all Sobeys Inc. stores in Atlantic Canada – including Lawtons, Foodland and participating Co-ops, and Needs Convenience – had bid adieu to plastic grocery bags, too.
This means that of the 15 billion single-use bags Canadians use annually, Sobeys Inc. estimates it will remove a whopping 443 million of them each year from circulation – and counting.
Of the 15 billion single-use bags Canadians use annually, Sobeys Inc. estimates it will remove a whopping 443 million of them from circulation each year – and counting.
Working toward environmental sustainability
It’s thrilling to work for a company that takes environmental issues seriously. The statistics around plastic are shocking: Almost 8 million tons of plastic are being dumped into our oceans every year.
Right now, there are around 269,000 tons floating on the ocean surface; one in three marine species of marine mammals have been found tangled in the stuff. Floating somewhere between California and Hawaii, there’s a plastic garbage patch that’s three times the size of France. In my opinion, OurPart™ of the deal is to keep our plastic away from the oceans, and it’s imperative we comply.
Why sustainability is important to me
I inherited my environmental awareness from my parents, who are keen environmental activists. In my teens, I learned how intrinsically plastic had penetrated my lifestyle when, for a school project, I listed all the plastic things I touched in a day. The list literally never ended. It was from this exercise that I decided to take individual actions to reduce my ecological footprint, no matter how small. I care about sustainability in my core – and I get to work with a company whose corporate vision aligns with mine.
Doing OurPart™ to save the planet isn’t just a Sobeys corporate policy, it’s a passion. I see it in our store managers, franchisees and customers alike. I’m thrilled that together, we can help make the world better, one less bag at a time.
as told to OurPart™ in conversation with Gauravi Saini