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Shopper sparks debate with photo of product found in bakery of luxury grocery store: 'Is this normal?'

"Luxury grocery chain in Los Angeles."

"Luxury grocery chain in Los Angeles."

Photo Credit: iStock

While most shoppers aren't ready to move away from plastic packaging for certain staples like bread, there are cases where it's truly excessive. One photo taken at a "luxury" store showed the internet how incredibly wasteful some brands can be: using a whole plastic bag to wrap a single slice of bread.

What happened?

According to a comment by the original poster, the photo that was the basis for this r/Anticonsumption post came from Instagrammer Jack Wagner (@versace_tamagotchi). "Individually packaged bread slice for sale," said the Redditor, attaching the photo.

"Luxury grocery chain in Los Angeles."
Photo Credit: Reddit

In the picture, a shopper holds a single slice of white bread in a clear plastic bag. A label identifies it as an organic bread slice from Erewhon. Despite being only one ounce of food, it costs $3.00.

"Three dollars [for] a slice of bread? Is this normal somewhere in the U.S.? Asking as a European," said one gobsmacked commenter.

"Luxury grocery chain in Los Angeles," another user clarified, referring to Erewhon.

Why does it matter if Erewhon uses extra packaging?

The plastic used to wrap groceries costs providers money, and to recover that cost, they raise prices. Separating a loaf of bread into individual slices and packaging each one significantly raises the amount of plastic being used for the same amount of food. It's probably not the only factor raising Erewhon's bread prices to $3 per ounce, but it isn't helping.

It's also problematic as far as waste goes. In the United States alone, around 40 million tons of plastic is thrown away annually, only about 5% of which is recycled. Much of the rest of it makes its way into our oceans, where fish and other animals often mistake it for food, which is dangerous for them and also puts microplastics into the human food supply.

What is Erewhon doing about the excessive packaging?

Erewhon claims that it is hard at work on the plastic problem, as well as other areas of environmental concern. It's a Certified B Corporation, a company that meets the highest standards in environmental efforts, according to the nonprofit B Lab.

"We believe in protecting the health of our precious planet," Erewhon says on its site. "By supporting organic and regenerative farms, reducing plastic packaging and waste in our stores, and working with eco-conscious manufacturers and artisans, we strive to help preserve our planet's natural resources and delicate ecosystem."

Still, this photo suggests the company has a ways to go.

What can I do about excessive packaging?

As the slice-versus-loaf issue illustrates, buying in bulk is often the best way to minimize packaging on a food product when it's something you can't grow yourself. You can also look for stores and brands that use less packaging or strive for eco-friendly reusable and recyclable alternatives.

Afterward, recycle as much of your packaging as you can. Just make sure to follow these basic rules to make sure you're helping the recycling effort — not setting it back.

Join our free newsletter for easy tips to save more, waste less, and help yourself while helping the planet.

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