Major corporations, including retailers are trying new ways to decrease their carbon footprint and impact on the environment. For shoppers, this could mean savings and extra cash. Whole Foods was one of the first companies to take a serious look at the ultimate price of plastic bags in 2007 and, according to USA Today, banned plastic bags. Consumers were offered paper bags made from recycled paper, reusable bags for 99 cents and more stout reusable tags for affordable prices. The company estimated that this saved 100 billion bags from the landfill.
Drug store chain CVS is one of the first companies to be proactive in encouraging shoppers to put a simple green gesture into practice: bringing their own multi-time use bags. Shoppers pay 99 cents for a tag that can be used with any bag. The tag can even be changed from one bag to another. (CVS also offers bags to use with the tag for another 99 cents.) In return for using the tags, shoppers earn $1 in extra care bucks (ECBs) for every four times the tag is used. The tag can even get scanned when you carry your items out instead of using a bag.
The tag is coded with your CVS Extra Care Card. If you’re not a CVS shopper, register for a extra care card. Registration is free and you’ll probably find many other store sales that also yield ECBs. Either way, after you’ve used your bag four times, you’ve covered your cost and you can use the tag indefinitely. Those ECBs can be used for almost anything at CVS with the exception of tobacco, alcohol (the kind you drink) and prescriptions.
Why is CVS willing to virtually pay shoppers to use their own bags? First, it’s a good public relations move. One of the largest drug stores in America is doing something to help save the planet. The second reason is likely sheer economics. Those plastic bags, when a single store goes through a thousand a day, can get expensive.
Bari Hartam, who is in charge of marketing for CVS, said in a written statement that the company was committed to improving communities served and that included helping customers adopt eco-friendly practices.
“Our new GreenBagTag program provides an easy way for shoppers to take a small step in going green, while also receiving Extra Care Bucks as a ‘Thank you’ for joining us in making an impact in the fight to reduce waste from disposal plastic bags,” she said in a written statement.
The company’s Web site explains that the $1 reward will appear at the bottom of the cash register. I tried this and it really works.
In October, Target announced on its Web site that customers will receive a 5 cents discount for each of his/her own bags used. To put it another way, if you save Target five plastic bags, you’ll receive a 25 cents discount. Again, not much, but the savings (and the plastic) will add up to seven figures in the first year. (No source for this…just my guess.)
If you live near a Publix Grocery Store, the grocery store gives shoppers a good start on replacing the plastic bags. The store offers coupons for free bags with certain purchases. For example, you might buy two two-liter sodas of a particular brand and receive a free reusable canvas bag.
Horovitz, Bruce. “Whole Foods Sacks Plastic Bags,” USA Today, Jan. 22, 2008.