Saturday, December 20

Ask your favorite stores to start offering reusable bag credits

In addition to selling lots of great green products,’ s website is also chalked full of eco-related information and suggestions.

Suggestions such as this:

Ask your favorite stores to start offering $.05 or $.10 credits per bag to customers who bring their own, and/or to charge for disposable bags (plastic and paper). They can join other progressive retailers including CostCo, Whole Foods, and Ikea that have already taken the lead. They can save money and help the environment at the same time.

Sample letter:

Dear [name of store manager or CEO],

As a concerned regular customer of [store name here], I am writing to ask you to join in with other leading retailers including Ikea, Costco and Whole Foods by either 1) offering a $.05 or $.10 credit per bag for customer that chose to bring their own and/or 2) introducing a small fee of .15 cents per disposable, single-use plastic bag. This will both save you money and help establish your business as a responsible retailer that cares about our environment.

Introduced 25 years ago, single use plastic bags are now consumed at an astounding rate of approximately 500 billion per year globally, or 1 million per minute. It is estimated that 1% or 5 billion of these bags end up as wind blow litter each year. These bags that take up to 1,000 years to biodegrade, often wind up in waterways or the landscape, becoming eyesores and eventually degrading water and soil as they break down into tiny toxic bits.

Their manufacture and disposal also uses large quantities of non-renewable resources, especially petroleum, a key ingredient in plastic. Large amounts of global warming gases are released during their production, transportation, and disposal. Environmentally, disposable plastic bags are a serious problem. Hundreds of thousands of marine animals, including endangered sea turtles, die every year when they eat plastic bags mistaken for food. Paper bags are not the answer, since independent studies show they have roughly as many negative impacts as plastic ones.

The negative impacts of disposable bags could be reduced easily and significantly by charging for their usage at the point of purchase. In cooperation with retailers, the Irish government introduced a plastic bag tax (PlasTax) last year that has slashed consumption over 90% and raised $9.6 million for environmental and waste management projects. Another benefit is that stores save money on bag purchases and improve their public image. For example, Superquinn, one of the largest Irish grocery chains, says the number of bags it distributes for free has dropped by 97.5%.

Charging for disposable bags and rewarding the use of reusable bags is a win-win solution to the disposable bag problem. It helps create the foundation for public-private partnership consumer in solving environmental problems, and saves retailers money.

Thank you for your careful thought on this matter, and I hope, the introduction of a store policy to charge for disposable bags and give credit for reusable ones. Corporate responsibility like this can make the difference between keeping and losing customers.

[your name, city, state, and zip code]

I sent my letters to Target and Wal-Mart.
Who will you send your letters to?

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