Native Sun discontinues single-use plastic grocery bags


Jacksonville-based Native Sun Natural Foods Market has discontinued single-use plastic grocery bags at all three of its locations.

The grocery store now offers a “Take a Bag, Leave a Bag” program, where shoppers can donate reusable bags, borrow a donated bag, or use a recycled cardboard box to take their groceries home. It will also offer affordable reusable bag options for customers to buy. Regardless of which option they choose, customers receive 5 cents per reusable bag off their purchase at Native Sun.

According to the company, while Native Sun has in the past offered compostable bags made of corn plastics, the Jacksonville Beach location has never offered plastic grocery bags because of the store’s proximity to the coast and the potential damage plastic bags can cause to the environment and local wildlife. The “Take a Bag, Leave a Bag” program has helped to reduce the amount of single-use plastic bags used at Native Sun’s Mandarin and Southside stores, officials said, and the retailer made the decision to discontinue them altogether earlier this month.

“Even compostable single-use plastic bags pose an environmental threat, when you can’t properly dispose of them,” Native Sun Owner Aaron Gottlieb said. “We are in full support of the community initiative to eliminate these bags and replace them with better options.”

Native Sun works with organizations like Surfrider Foundation First Coast Chapter to support the Rise Above Plastics campaign and the annual International Coastal Clean-Up Day in September that aim to remove plastic trash from beaches in Florida and around the world. Last year, the Ocean Conservancy’s report of International Coastal Clean-Up Day showed that plastic grocery bags were the sixth most common item found on beaches and waterways around the world, a number that was up from previous years.

A 2016 World Economic Forum report estimates that by 2050, the amount of plastic in the ocean will outweigh fish.

“The negative effects on our environment and our food system are heartbreaking and completely avoidable,” said Meghan Fiveash, Native Sun’s community relations manager. “For us, it’s about education. We want to make sure our customers are aware of the effects of single-use grocery bags while providing them with options to make their choice at the checkout a positively impactful one.”

Recently, the city of Jacksonville updated its list of accepted items for recycling to exclude plastic grocery bags. Kevin Long, general manager of Conex Recycling in Jacksonville, reiterated the decision, emphasizing the fact that, “plastic bags are just clogging the recycle machinery,” a common and costly problem in many cities.

In addition, the Jacksonville Beach City Council voted unanimously last month to support a statewide bill to ban the use of plastic bags on beaches. State law currently prohibits local governments from creating rules regarding the use of plastic bags. The bill in the state legislature would give local governments the choice.

“We’re trying to do our part to eliminate plastic debris from the environment,” Gottlieb said. “Please help us by bringing your own reusable bag with you when you shop. You’ll save money and you’ll be making an investment in our local environment.”