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Stores pay customers to shop with reusable bags

Posted November 16, 2009

— Some stores are adding a monetary incentive for their customers to go green, ditch the plastic bags and use reusable shopping bags.

Stores pay customers to ditch plastic bags Stores pay customers to ditch plastic 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.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • sunneyone Nov 18, 2009

    Lone Voice, yes they hold milk. Just make sure you buy one of good quality. We use ours for juices and other jars all the time (we usually just carry the milk by it's handle).

  • streetfightinman Nov 17, 2009

    If you're from hippie hill and wear berkinstocks you get extra 10% off.

  • OhYea Nov 16, 2009

    When the stores stop providing these bags, people will stop using them.

  • tchr313 Nov 16, 2009

    I'm one of those that uses plastic bags to line trash cans--it's just NEEDED. I also use them for used cat litter, and to put meats in so they don't drip during transport. They are used constantly for messy items. I am all for people using reusable bags, but I don't think the plastic bags should be banned.

  • jellybeanz Nov 16, 2009

    Yes reusable bags will hold milk. Do it all of the time. They actually hold alot of groceries at one time.

  • Lone Voice in the Wilderness Nov 16, 2009

    Does anyone know if the reusable bags can hold my milk?

    Whenever I buy a 1/2 gallon of milk, I always request a paper bag. Plastic bags can't seem to hold a plastic milk jug. My plastic bag always tips over, rolls around, and is otherwise a general nuisance.

    I know it's a small thing, but if the reusable bags & hold the milk, I might just switch.

  • rocket Nov 16, 2009

    What if George Carlin was right and the earth needs plastic? Maybe that's our purpose in life.... plastic. I'm just sayin'

  • FoxtrotUniformCharlieKiloakaCALM Nov 16, 2009

    actually, it's not very green to recycle plastic bags, but you know, whatever... I think plastic bags are stupid. as are plastic bottles and anything plastic meant to be thrown away.

  • TruthBKnown Banned Again02 Nov 16, 2009

    "ROFLOL! Funny, TBK, I've never thought of you as an eco-terrorist."

    I know, right?!

    If "eco-terrorists" had their way, we wouldn't have an "island" of plastic half the size of TEXAS floating in the ocean right now.

    I'm a conservative, but I don't believe in poisoning our environment, especially with stuff that doesn't go away for a few hundred years.

  • giterdungirl Nov 16, 2009

    I already use re-usable grocery bags, but some of the cashiers at places like Wal-Mart and Food Lion give me an attitude...like I am inconviencing them to bag groceries in bags other than their plastic. Oh well...they will have to deal b/c I ain't stoppin!