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Reusable Bag Use Triples Among Shoppers
Volume 604
April 28, 2009

In April 2008, Whole Foods became the first U.S. supermarket chain to eliminate the use of plastic grocery bags. A year later it reports that it has seen the use of reusable grocery bags triple. Most major supermarket chains and club stores, from Stop and Shop to Sam's Club, have followed suit by offering inexpensive reusable bags and/or offering refunds for plastic bags that are returned. In a relatively short period of time, "green" bags went from being on the fringe to becoming something of a norm for many shoppers. "At first we wondered if shoppers would just switch to paper, but to our great surprise, people have been truly excited about using reusable bags," says A.C. Gallo, co-president of Whole Foods Market.

This kind of effort is only likely to increase in the coming year with more than half of marketers claiming their companies will increase their sustainability initiatives this year, according to a survey conducted by the American Marketing Association and public relations firm Fleishman-Hillard. Two of the larger distributors who have been doing brisk business selling green products aren't surprised at all by the velocity of the trend. "More and more people are getting educated on how bad those bags are for the environment," says Kris Robinson, vice president, Counselor Top 40 firm PromoShop (asi/300446).

Chuck Fandos, president of Counselor Top 40 distributor Gateway CDI (asi/202515), says, "It's great that people finally realize those plastic bags are a bad idea. They are a lose, lose, lose for everyone. China banned them. San Francisco banned them. People have taken notice."

Gallo says the effort is worth it because his company is helping its customers turn the green corner. "By offering various versions of stylish, affordable 99-cent bags that have become quite popular, our shoppers have been inspired to make a positive environmental change and have really incorporated the reusable bag mindset into their lives."

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