steps toward conservation

I have been to the state of Massachusetts exactly once in my life, but having two close friends there means I get lots of state news.

Today, the state signed an agreement to cut down on the use of plastic bags at grocery stores. Part of the plan is to offer incentives to shoppers who use reusable bags. According to the article, one incentive is to offer shoppers five cents for each bag they bring on their own.

The interesting thing about this is how my area grocery stores have been doing this for years. I remember being about seven years old and going with my parents to Albertson's and Delchamp's (which, man that place has been closed a long time) with our cloth bags and getting five cents off for each bag. We fell out of practice for a few years, but when the stores started offering their new cloth bags, we started using them again. And Albertson's still gives me five cents for each bag, even if I don't use them all.

The only thing is that, most of the time, I'm the only person walking around with a wad of cloth bags at the store. Some stores are more open to the bags than others. The girl at Bed Bath and Beyond thanked me for using a cloth bag (for my water pitcher filter, no less). The people at Wal-Mart only half listen and act pained to be broken of the routine.

It will take a long time for the majority of consumers to embrace the practice of either using cloth bags or using plastic bags more than once, but I think more incentives like these could help. Some people just have to be the ones to get the ball rolling. I think even just promotion of these incentives could help.

Consumers just need to learn that plastic bags can have more than one life. I finally convinced my boyfriend last year to not throw them away after one trip home, and he now uses them instead of whole kitchen trashbags for cat litter. I use them for small trashcans, which could pose a problem when I'm living on my own, as I refuse to even bring them home from the store. But that can be a post for another day.

3 comments

raindog said...

this is so strange. if this policy exists, they certainly don't promote it since this is the very first i've heard of it. they need to come up with bigger bags. my hatred of the grocery store is such that i shop once a week, which means about 15 or so plastic bags (which do get reused for various things), which would come out to 20 or more cloth bags. now, if they would sell cloth bags in, say, 3x their current size i could probably make the switch more easily.

Caitlin said...

Yes, Albertson's will give a nickel a bag. Target has larger cloth bags. I have a large one from there that folds flat and snaps. I believe Bed Bath and Beyond has large ones also.

amy said...

Our grocery store has those big folding bags can fit almost all of our shopping into 2 of them. I know stop and shop give you 5 cents off already, but i hate that store! :)Anyway, my last shopping trip i noticed a lot of people with reusable bags. there has been talk of a bag tax up here so i think people are starting to change their habits. =)

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