New Pioneer Food Co-op will offer reusable bags for a short time, as it eliminates plastic bags at the checkout counter. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

New Pioneer Food Co-op will offer reusable bags for a short time, as it eliminates plastic bags at the checkout counter. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

New Pioneer Food Co-op will no longer offer handled plastic bags at the checkout counter, as of the end of August.

The co-op will still offer paper bags at checkout and plans to give away reusable bags for several days in the coming weeks.

Cities in California were among the first in the United States to ban plastic bags, and nearly 100 municipalities in California now offer some variation of a plastic bag ban.

Read on for more from New Pi and the reasoning behind their decision:

Iowa City, July 31, 2015 – New Pioneer Food Co-op is pleased to announce they will eliminate handled plastic bags at the checkout by the end of August. The change is to reduce their environmental impact on the earth.

“At New Pioneer, we are more than a cooperative grocery featuring local and organic food and products. We also have a commitment to the environment. Plastic never truly degrades in the environment: once it’s made, we’re stuck with it forever,” says New Pi Marketing Manager Jenifer Angerer.

New Pi has been working with the 100 Grannies environmental organization on this effort. Per 100 Grannies, Americans use over 380 billion polyethylene bags and wraps per year, requiring an estimated 12 million barrels of oil to make these single-use plastics – and of those 380 billion, only 5% are recycled. Plastic bags don’t biodegrade, they photo-degrade, breaking down into smaller and smaller toxic bits that contaminate soil and waterways. They then enter the food chain as animals ingest them. As estimated by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, ocean debris worldwide kills at least 1 million sea birds and 100,000 mammals each year.
Paper bags will still be available at New Pi, at no charge: “Our paper bags are made from 100% recycled Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified paper, with water-based inks and starch-based adhesives so they are completely recyclable and 100% compostable,” says New Pi Education & Outreach Coordinator Theresa Carbrey.

“Of course, we continue to believe that the best answer to the question ‘Paper or plastic?’ is neither, and that reusable bags are the answer,” Carbrey adds. New Pi will give away reusable bags for several days, once plastic bags are no longer available, later this month. “Using a reusable bag over and over again to carry goods from the store to your own door could save 350-500 plastic bags per person every year. If everyone made this small change to reusable bags, we would make a very positive impact on our environment and affect the way we see all single-use plastics,” says Angerer.

New Pioneer Cooperative Society was founded as a natural foods cooperative grocery in Iowa City in 1971, opened its Coralville branch in 2001, and opened a third store in Cedar Rapids in December of 2014. New Pi is a thriving food co-op with over 33,000 members-owners. The stores provide local, organic, and natural foods to the Corridor and everyone is welcome to shop – owner or not. New Pi is located at 22 S. Van Buren St. in Iowa City, at 1101 2nd St. in Coralville, and at 3338 Center Point Road NE in Cedar Rapids. Please visit for more information.