Stores pay customers to shop with reusable bags
Posted November 16, 2009
Cary, N.C. — Some stores are adding a monetary incentive for their customers to go green, ditch the plastic bags and use reusable shopping bags.
Louri Houck brings her own reusable bags to the Target store in Cary. She said she wants to reduce the number of plastic bags she puts into landfills.
"It's not hard to do. It's just getting in the habit," she said.
Target has created an incentive for shoppers like Houck: a 5-cent discount for each reusable bag they use to pack their purchases. The program's ultimate goal is to save the environment, said company spokeswoman Army Reilly.
"The best-case scenario is that everybody uses reusable bags and that we eliminate plastic bags," Reilly said.
Target tested the discount program at about 100 stores and found that customers used two-thirds fewer plastic bags.
Among chain stores, CVS also has a rewards program for customers who don't request plastic bags. Smaller retailers have begun promoting reusable bags, as well.
Reilly said the 5-cent discount program will pay for itself, since the store will buy fewer plastic bags.
Analis Fulgum, education and outreach coordinator for waste reduction and recycling at North Carolina State University, called the incentive program "a fantastic idea" – and a responsible move – by retailers.
"They're creating the problem in a sense, and they are doing something about it," Fulgum said.
Houck said that while she enjoys getting a discount at Target, she would use reusable bags just for the environmental benefits.
"It's a simple thing, but you're feeling like you're doing at least something," she said.
Another green shopping alternative is to recycle plastic bags.