Retailers Reward Customers Who are Going Plastic-free

West Lafayette resident Esther Hodge said it has been nearly six months since she has used a plastic bag to take home her groceries. "I'm trying to go green like everyone says now," she said while loading items into her reusable grocery bag Tuesday at Pay Less Super Market. "I used to have a cabinet in my house full of plastic bags that I would never use and throw out. Now all I need is this."

As a way to motivate more shoppers to stop using plastic bags, CVS and Target Stores in Greater Lafayette and across the nation have launched campaigns that pay people for bringing their own bags.

Target on Nov. 1 started offering customers a nickel off for every reusable bag they use.

Azrielle Albrecht, a manager at Super Target in Lafayette, said decreasing the use of plastic bags from the store helps cut costs and reduces litter. So far, Albrecht said the promotion is working.

"A lot of people have been bringing them in. A ton of people have them," she said. "And you can use any (reusable) bag."

The CVS program is only available to shoppers who are members of the store's ExtraCare loyalty program, and it requires members to buy a "Green Bag Tag" for 99 cents. Members attach the tag to any reusable bag and have it scanned whenever they shop.

For every four scans, customers will receive a coupon printed on the bottom of their receipt for a dollar off.

Sheryl Hodson of Oxford has used reusable bags when shopping for about a year. She saved 15 cents on her trip to Target Thursday, and she was happy to avoid the plastic bags.

"I hate plastic bags. They just multiply and are everywhere," said Hodson, who was excited to learn about earning 5 cents for every reusable bag she brings in to Target.

To help residents take advantage of the new campaigns and reduce the number of plastic bags being used, the West Lafayette Go Greener Commission is giving away reusable shopping bags on Nov. 21.

"Traditional plastic shopping bags are petroleum-based and take years to degrade," said Go Greener Commission member Heather Gall. "By using the reusable bags, you are lowering your carbon footprint."

Gall said thanks to a grant received through the Purdue University Boiler Green Initiative, the commission will hand out 1,000 cotton shopping bags that feature the Purdue logo.

Linda Anderson, chairwoman of the Go Greener Eliminate Plastic Bags Committee, said it is important that people get into the habit of bringing their own bag when they head to the store.

"The number one reason I hear from people who don't use them is that they forget them," she said. "I always say just keep it in your car. That way they will always have it available."

Anderson said people should use high-quality bags that can be washed and used for longer periods of time.

Brian Hall, a fifth-grade teacher at Mintonye Elementary School, believes it is never too early to learn about the downside of plastic bags.

Hall, who is charge of recycling at the school, started a competition that will give students an opportunity to design their own reusable totes.

"There are roughly 20 classrooms that will compete, and there will be a schoolwide vote to determine the winner," Hall said. "The winning design will be printed on a bag and become the official school tote."

"It's just a good way to inform them about the issue early."


Manuel Martinez

Project GreenBag, 2200 Market St, San Francisco, CA, 94114, United States