Grocers Go Green On April 22, 1970, an environmental grass-roots group organized the first Earth Day and more than 20 million people participated. Keep America Beautiful, Keep Texas Beautiful and local recycling and cleanup efforts now synchronize their efforts with Earth Day. Schools now teach youngsters about litter and make posters that raise global awareness, older students in Scouts or church groups plant trees, but what can the average person do to get involved? One simple way to go green is by taking a trip to your local grocery store. For example, both Kroger and H-E-B are eager to show their customers what they can do to make a difference. “We’ve made a commitment to our community and the environment,” said Fred Heck, co-manager at Kroger in Atascocita on FM 1960. “We have had a plastic bag recycling program for more than a year. We also offer reusable shopping bags made out of recycled materials.” He said that both programs have been very popular with customers. People are remembering to take the bags back to their cars so they are handy for the next shopping excursion. Some of their bags are free; others sell for a minimal price, which will be dropped as part of the store's Earth Day promotional sales. H-E-B has a similar program for recycling plastic bags and offers reusable shopping bags as an option. “The company plans to give away 150,000 reusable shopping bags in a single day,” said Angie Kurst, in H-E-B’s marketing department. The giveaway will take place statewide on Earth Day, April 22. The reusable bags are easily cleaned for reuse, and according to Heck, their store offers three distinct bags. One small bag holds six wine bottles. It is free with a wine purchase. There is a larger bag for general groceries and dry goods, and still another is lined with a silver thermal material for transporting cold items. Both Heck and Manager Phillip Lucia said that their store is becoming more sensitive to their impact across the board. They said they try to think about environmental issues as a company when they sort and dispose of packing and as they stock their shelves. They said they also try to give customers “green” options. Both H-E-B and Kroger have organic produce sections, pump spray products in addition to aerosol sprays, chemical-free canned goods, cage-free eggs, organic options for pesticides and safer cleaning products. Grocers are making it easier than ever for consumers to do something for the environment. Photo: Kroger Co-Manager Fred Heck demonstrates the Kroger plastic bag recycling program. Both Kroger and H-E-B offer similar programs to reduce and recycle plastics. Photo by Kathy Parks