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Whole Foods hosts toxic swimmer for Earth Day


Whole Foods celebrated Earth Day by serving as the kickoff site for environmental activist Christopher Swain’s historic swim in a toxic canal.

Swain departed from the Whole Foods Market at 134 Street in Brooklyn and swam the polluted Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn despite warnings from federal agencies and health experts. The Gowanus Canal is a Superfund site, and in 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency called the canal “one of the most contaminated water bodies in the nation.” The contaminants include all manner of chemicals, regional EPA administrator Judith Enck said in a 2013 report.

“There’s a whole witches’ brew of contaminants in the bottom of the Gowanus Canal. It’s heavy metals such as lead and mercury, PCBs, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and a lot of coal tar,” Enck said in 2013, in announcing a massive cleanup project. But dredging for that cleanup project has not begun.

The “green” retailer also observed Earth Day by teaming up with the Greenwich Tree Conservancy, in which 5% of Whole Foods sales on Earth Day will be donated to the conservancy. The Greenwich Tree Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the planting and preservation of Greenwich’s trees and, since its founding in 2007, has planted almost 2,000 trees in town.

Whole Foods operates nearly 400 stores in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

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