We have a new Whole Foods in Noe Valley. Love it - high quality food that I can get close to home. The store is small so the bulk bin section is nowhere near the utopia seen at Rainbow, and a lot of stuff is more expensive, but it's close. I can walk down with my son in the SUV stroller and load up the bottom of the stroller as well as one of my "I'm such a green hippie" reusable bags.
Whole Foods really pushes the "bring your own bags" thing. There is a "Reduce/Reuse/Recycle" screed pasted on the (Paper - this is SF after all) bags that you get if you don't bring your own bag. They haven't joined Healdsburg's Big John's Market by painting a big sign near the door saying "DID YOU REMEMBER YOUR BAG?", but they do ask you a question when you pull out your little eco-bag...
"Do you want a bag credit, or do you want to donate?" Like some other stores, WF will give you a 5 cent rebate if you bring your own bags. They ask you if you want to donate the money to charity, usually they have a list of charities. Back in the day, they used to give you a wooden token which you then placed in a box by the door - maybe they still do this in Redwood City but in Noe Valley they'd need a bigger box with all those donatin' bag bringin' dog and kid draggin' Mommies and Daddies.
I usually donate the 5 cents. I'm not bringing my own bag to save a nickel on my bag of locally grown organic spinach (which I put in my reusable Eco-Bags of course, I mean how holy are you if you put 15 plastic produce bags in your reusable shopping bag!). But I got to thinking about this - what happens with those donations?
In theory, I have donated 5 cents to charity. So I should get a 5 cent tax deduction! Over the course of the year, maybe 2 bucks! OK, so I'm not going to track this, but adding up December's donations proudly reported by Whole Foods on the registers - well over $2000 was "donated" by customers after being "collected" by Whole Foods. My question - when Whole Foods writes a $700 check to 826 Valencia, do they send a copy to their accountant and write it off THEIR taxes? Whole Foods didn't donate that money - they "gave" the money to me and I donated it. I am going to go out on a limb and postulate that WF deducts the donation.
Certainly WF is under no obligation to give a bag credit. But I find it very corporate that WF would tax-deduct the money their customers supposedly donated, not to mention wave up and down about the charity they are responsible for. Really, if they can train their customers to bring bags, saving on average 4 paper bags (they typically double bag) and then donate the "bag credit", Whole Foods is saving ~5 cents in bags and then getting ~2 cents back from the government in tax savings - profiting 2 cents a transaction by training their customers.