Archive for October, 2009

Retailers Pay Customers to Bring Their Own Bags

Retailers are finding that the best way to get consumers to ditch plastic bags and go green is to give them money back. Targer and CVS are the latest retailers who are giving discount incentives to customers who bring in their own reusable bags instead of using the store’s plastic bags. The move establishes them as green companies in the mind of consumers and reduces pollution caused by plastic bags. Although smaller retailers have offered incentives in the past, CVS/pharmacy (with about 7,000 stores) and Target (about 1,700 stores) are the largest to do so. “The general public wouldn’t think of them as green companies,” said Dr. Scott Testa, a business professor at Cabrini College in Philadelphia. “If CVS can differentiate itself and be looked at as the ‘green’ drug store then conceivably they’ll gain more customers.” In order to participate, CVS/pharmacy customers will have to buy a tag (which costs 99 cents) to attach to their reusable bag and swipe it every time they bring it in. The tag is connected to the company’s ExtraCare Rewards program. On every fourth visit, customers will earn a $1 Extra Care Buck that will print on their receipt and they can redeem for future purchases. At Target, customers will get 5 cents off their bill for every reusable bag they use when they visit. The retailer piloted the program in 100 stores and counted a 58 percent increase in reusable bag use. The program officially begins in stores on November 1, 2009. Besides generating a greener image, marketing experts say the move could also help the companies save money by reducing plastic bag use. However, both companies say that money is not their motivation: “We wouldn’t be giving back extra bucks” if it was just about saving money, said Melissa Studzinski, director of relationship marketing at CVS. “The savings is about the same amount as what we’re rewarding our guests for the program,” said Target spokesperson Amy Reilly. Tackling plastic bag use is a smart move for retailers, experts say, as disposable plastic bags have been a target of environmentalists and lawmakers for years. They say the bags take up too much space in landfills and pollute waterways. San Francisco was the first city in the United States to ban plastic bags two years ago. Other cities have tried, but so far Los Angeles is the only other major cities to ban plastic bag waste. The ban goes into effect in the middle of next year. Washington D.C. will tax the bags next year in an attempt to reduce use. Just this week, San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi—who played a major part in getting plastic bags banned—introduced a new plan that would make it mandatory for supermarkets and pharmacies to give customers a 10-cent discount every time they use a reusable bag. While Target and CVS are the latest retailers to introduce bag benefits, smaller retailers have already offered the same types of incentives. Regional supermarket Stop & Shop gives customers 5 cents off their total bill for any shopping bag they bring from home. For over a year, Whole Foods Market has been giving customers up to a 10-cent discount for bringing in a reusable bag. The company banned plastic bags from its store checkouts in favor of paper bags in 2008. The company announced in April of this year that since the ban, 150 million bags were kept out of landfills and reusable bag use had tripled, and continues to grow. “Consumers are sensitive to being taken advantage of,” said Kristin Heist, a senior strategist at  Continuum, a global innovation consultancy. “With an incentive,” she added, “consumers feel like they’re winning—they’re helping the environment and saving money at the same time.” [Article from CNBC]

Ottawa Green Bin Program

3884396603_e6d0295a99Ottawa is beginning organic recycling pickup starting January 2010 and has started distributing their green bins all over the city. The first phase of the Green Bin program will target the majority of Ottawa residents: People living in single and low-rise residences in urban, suburban and rural village areas that currently have single set out garbage and recycling pick up. Over 2010-2011, the City will be investigating service for high-rise buildings, and residences with common pad collection. Roll out to remaining residences including rural, non-village residents will be determined with the new collections contract, set to commence 2012. Check out Green Bin Ottawa’s fun and interactive website for more information, tips and more.

Green your Halloween!

Halloween is just around the corner, so here are a few quick tips to “green” it up: halloween – Make your own costume or buy one at a second hand shop. It also helps to purchase costume items that you can reuse in the future. If you are feeling extra creative, take a look at your blue recycling bin and create a costume from leftover recycled items- toilet paper rolls and cardboard boxes can go a long way! – Instead of using plastic/paper bags to collect candy, opt for a Halloween themed reusable bag. Environmentally-friendly shopping bags are not only great for the Earth, but are more durable, sturdy and comfortable for children to carry. – Instead of using the usual disposable Halloween decorations, look into using natural items like pumpkins, gourds and straw bales which are inexpensive and can be composted after use. Decorate with home made crafts- rake the leaves in your yard and stuff them inside old clothing to make a creepy scarecrow or “dead” body. – Create a “spooky” atmosphere but turning off all lights except perhaps your front porch light so trick or treaters know you are home. Light a couple of candles instead to help keep the mood alive and save electricity at the same time.


Reasons to Go Green with Reusable Shopping Bags

We found a great article on “50 Reasons to Go Green with Reusable Shopping Bags” and wanted to share our favorites with you:
  • Plastic is forever. Almost every plastic bag you have touched in your lifetime still exists in some shape or form. With few exceptions, plastic bags will take thousands of years to break down. The bag my first pair of shoes came in a couple decades ago is out there, somewhere.
  • Consumer Cost. At 5 cents a bag in many North American shops, the bucks add up! Ireland pays a hefty 15 cents per bag “Plastax” tax. Buying a bin or reusable bag can save you hundreds over the years. While keeping costs down is a concern for many, there are more pressing plastic matters at stake!
  • Global Warming. Manufactured plastic and paper bags contribute to global warming. Paper bag production delivers a global warming double-whammy since forests (major absorbers of greenhouse gases) have to be cut down, and then the subsequent manufacturing of bags produces greenhouse gases.
  • Marine Life. Over 100,000 marine animals are killed each year from plastic bags. Sea turtles, water birds, and other creatures mistake them for food or become entangled in them. In some parts of the ocean, there are six pounds of plastic for every pound of plankton.
  • Shopper incentives. Many stores offer shoppers discounts and program points for bagging with reusables. Small cents add up to big dollars over time.
  • Multipurpose. Reusable bags can be used for tasks beyond grocery shopping. Cart gardening gear, sort clothing, move to a new apartment – the options are endless.
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