Kroger to Ban Plastic Bags at All its Stores by 2025

Rodney McMullen, the CEO of Kroger, announced August 23 that the supermarket chain will phase-out plastic bags from all of its stores by 2025.

Writing for USA Today, Mullen said:

“The plastic shopping bag’s days are numbered. Major cities around the country, from Los Angeles to Chicago to Boston, have banned their use in retail settings. Our customers have told us it makes no sense to have so much plastic only to be used once before being discarded. And they’re exactly right.”

He went on to say:

“As America’s largest grocer, we recognize we have a responsibility to cut down on unnecessary plastic waste that contributes to litter, harms the environment and, in some cases, can endanger wildlife.”

Kroger includes major chains such as Ralphs, Harris Teeter, Food 4 Less, Pick ‘n Save, and, obviously, Kroger. [2]

The company will begin phasing-out plastic bags at its Seattle-based supermarket chain QFC starting in 2019.

Kroger said it is also working on other waste-reducing measures, including a goal to “divert 90% of waste from the landfill by 2020.”

McMullen points out in the article that the U.S. uses 100 billion single-use plastic bags each year – enough to fill the Houston Astrodome 3 times, top to bottom, year after year. [1]

The company’s goal is to shift completely to reusable bags, but in order to give customers time to adapt to the major change, Kroger will start phasing out plastic bags slowly.

McMullen wrote:

“As always, we’re open to new ideas. We’re working with experts and partners to ease the transition, but the single most important partner we can possibly have is our customers.”

To prepare employees for this “new way of shopping,” Kroger will improve training materials for baggers. The chain will also continue to offer in-store recycling services for plastic bags and other plastic materials. Though Kroger wants “to be a trusted recycling partner” for shoppers, it recognizes that stronger action must be taken to reduce plastic pollution. McMullen said that “Kroger is committed to making a difference that can be measured.”

When 2025 rolls around, the waste generated by Kroger stores will drop by 123 million pounds per year, according to McMullen. That amount is equivalent to the weight of the entire population of Detroit.

Just imagine if every grocery store adopted similar policies.

In closing, McMullen called on other grocery chains to join them “in taking the leap to say farewell to the plastic shopping bag.”

Plastic bags are either banned or cost an additional fee in many cities and counties across America. In California, single-use plastic bags are banned at grocery stores and large retail stores across the state. However, the first U.S. state to ban plastic bags was Hawaii, which announced the plan in 2014. [2]

In 2017, Kenya introduced a ban on plastic bags that carries heavy fines or even jail time. In Australia, plastic bags have been banned in some of the country’s largest retailers and across multiple states. Meanwhile, Costa Rica has pledged to ban all single-use plastics by 2021.

Starbucks, McDonald’s, and Dunkin Donuts all recently pledged to eliminate plastics and polystyrene, with Starbucks pledging to eliminate plastic straws from all of its stores by 2020. [3]

Sources:

[1] USA Today

[2] NPR

[3] CNN Money

Featured image source: AOL

Report: Baby Food Contains “Worrisome” Levels of Lead, Arsenic, Cadmium

Consumer Reports has some bad news for parents who only feed their babies organic food. In terms of arsenic, cadmium, and lead levels, organic baby foods are no better than traditional products when it comes to heavy metal contamination.

The authors of the report note that babies are ingesting fewer pesticides with organic food consumption. That, along with the gentler effects organic food has on the environment, still shows that organic is better than conventional. However, “organic” does not mean free of heavy metals.

Consumer Reports tested 50 baby and toddler products from retailers all over the country, including 20 that were labeled “organic.” Products made with rice had the highest levels of heavy metals, but all showed measurable levels of cadmium, inorganic arsenic, and/or lead. [2]

Of the 50 products tested, 34 contained concerning levels of heavy metals, while 15 had such high levels that a child who eats a single serving per day would face potential health problems.

How Much is too Much?

Based on their findings, Consumer Reports determined a daily number of servings a child would have to eat before he or she would truly be at-risk for health problems from exposure to heavy metals.

The authors recommend limiting the following products to 1 serving per day:

  • Earth’s Best Organic Chicken & Brown Rice
  • Gerber Chicken & Rice and Sprout Organic Baby Food Garden Vegetables Brown Rice with Turkey

Children should eat only a half-portion daily of Gerber Lil’ Meals White Turkey Stew With Rice & Vegetables.

Fruits and vegetables packaged for babies drew less concern from the authors, who set no daily limits for the following baby foods:

  • Beech-Nut Organic Peas, Green Peas, Green Beans and Avocado
  • Gerber Organic Peas, Carrots & Beets

However, Consumer Reports recommends limiting both Beach-Nut Classics Sweet Potatoes and Earth’s Best Organic Sweet Potatoes, 1st Stage, to half a serving daily.

Exposure to heavy metals is dangerous for people of all ages, but babies and toddlers are especially vulnerable because of their small stature and developing brains. One of the biggest worries among experts is the effect heavy metals can have on kids’ cognitive development. [2]

James Rogers, director of food safety research and test at Consumers Reports, noted: [2]

“They also absorb more of the heavy metals that get into their bodies than adults do.”

In the U.S., packaged baby food is a $54 billion-a-year industry, according to data from Zion Market Research. More than 90% of parents with children 3 and under reach for these foods, at least occasionally. [2]

Read: 5 Hidden Toxins Found in Baby Products

Sixteen of the products tested had “less concerning” levels of the heavy metals, according to the report, indicating that all baby food manufacturers could make their products safer if they chose to do so.

Consumer Reports said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) told the group that it is working to finalize guidelines on inorganic arsenic in infant rice cereal by the end of 2018.

Tips for Parents

Parents shouldn’t panic about the findings in the report. The presence of heavy metals in no way guarantees a child will suffer health problems as a result of consuming them. [2]

And there are things parents can do to limit their child’s exposure to inorganic arsenic, cadmium, and lead.

  • Limit your child’s infant rice cereal intake. Rice cereal is often one of the first solid foods babies eat because it’s easy to swallow and fortified with iron. But rice cereal has tested positive more than once for concerning levels of inorganic arsenic.
  • Be picky about the types of rice your child eats. Brown rice contained higher levels of inorganic arsenic than white rice. High levels of inorganic arsenic were also found in rice cakes, rice cereal, and pasta. Instead, choose white basmati rice from California, India, and Pakistan. Sushi rice from the U.S. had an average of half as much inorganic arsenic as most other types.

Healthful Rice: Report Shows Rice Least Contaminated with Arsenic

  • Choose snacks low in heavy metals, such as apples, unsweetened applesauce, avocados, bananas, beans, cheese, grapes, hard-boiled eggs, peaches, strawberries, and yogurt.
  • Minimize chocolate intake, as cocoa powder may contain cadmium and/or lead. Cocoa itself may contain more heavy metals than dark chocolate, and dark chocolate may contain more metals than milk chocolate.
  • Skip the protein powders, which may contain all 3 heavy metals. Whey and egg-based powders tended to have less than plant-based ones such as soy and hemp.

Sources:

[1] USA Today

[2] CBS News

Good News: U.S. Cancer Death Rates Have Fallen 25% Since 1991

Deaths from cancer in the United States peaked in 1991, but have since dropped a whopping 25%, according a report published earlier this year by the American Cancer Society (ACS). [1]

As a result of that drop, 2.1 million fewer people died from cancer between 1991 and 2014 than would have died if cancer death rates had remained stagnant at their 1991 level.

The ACS credits reductions in smoking and advances in early detection and treatment for the significant decline, such as more people having colonoscopies to detect colorectal cancer.

Source: CDC

Dr. Otis Brawley, the chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, said in a statement:

“The continuing drops in the cancer death rate are a powerful sign of the potential we have to reduce cancer’s deadly toll.

Continuing that success will require more clinical and basic research to improve early detection and treatment, as well as strategies to increase healthy behaviors nationwide.” [1]

The researchers also credit the Affordable Care Act with improving survival rates in ethnic minorities. Between 2010 and 2015, the Affordable Care Act decreased the number of uninsured from 21% to 11% in African-Americans, and from 31% to 16% among Latinos. [2]

The report, published in the journal CA: A Cancer Journal for Cliniciansshows the decline in cancer death rates was fairly steady for more than two decades, decreasing about 1.5% each year during the study period. [1]

The cancer death rate fell from 215 deaths per 100,000 people in 1991 to 161 deaths per 100,000 people in 2014.

Read: Study: Moderate Exercise May Cut Your Risk of 13 Types of Cancer!

Fewer deaths attributable to four types of cancer played a significant role in the overall decline – lung, prostate, breast, and colorectal. For example, deaths from lung cancer in men dropped by 43% from 1990 to 2014, and in women by 17% between 2002 and 2014. The colorectal cancer death rate decreased by 51% between 1976 and 2014.

To paint a clearer picture, in the mid-1970’s, the five-year survival rate for someone diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia was about 41%. For patients diagnosed between 2006 and 2012, however, the five-year survival rate had increased to 71%.

In the mid-1970’s, the five-year survival rate for chronic myeloid leukemia stood at a dismal 22%, but the five-year survival rate is now 66%. And thanks to new therapies, people diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia before age 65 can expect a near-normal life expectancy. [2]

Progress is slow in the areas of lung and pancreatic cancers, however. Those types of cancer tend to be caught in the later stages. As a result, the five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is just 8%, while the five-year survival rate for lung cancer is 18%.

Read: Women’s Cancer Deaths Expected to Climb 60% by 2030

Cases of new liver cancer diagnoses and deaths are increasing, according to the researchers. The number of new cases has grown by 3% yearly, and liver cancer deaths rose by 3% annually between 2010 and 2014.

Additionally, deaths from uterine cancer are on the rise, increasing by 2% per year in that period.

Source: PublicHealth

Researchers estimate there will be more than 1.6 million new cases of cancer in the U.S. this year, or about 4,600 diagnoses each day, and over 600,000 cancer deaths, or about 1,650 deaths each day. [1]

Sources:

[1] LiveScience

[2] Los Angeles Times

CDC

PublicHealth


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