Bagging the Green Movement



New Jersey’s supermarkets have been touting reusable bags as one of the best ways to reduce the carbon footprint and help the environment. As an added incentive, they offer rebates for 2- to 10-cents depending on the store and the type of bag reused. It’s a great idea on paper for saving paper and plastic, and as a consumer it gives me hope that I’m doing my little bit to help the environment. I even feel guilty the times when I’ve gone into the store and realized that I left my canvas bags in the trunk.


The problem is that I’m finding the stores are not always keeping up their end of the bargain.


A month or so ago I was in the A&P and happened to get a new cashier who was in training. I told her I had three canvas bags. The head cashier who was training her said that was good and after my order was rung up she showed her how to key the code into the register to deduct the bag refund.


A few weeks later I was in the A&P again and happened to get the same cashier. I informed her that I had two canvas bags and was greeted with a nice smile. But when I got home and checked my receipt I found that she did not take off the bag refund.


ShopRite is also hit or miss when it comes to receiving bag refunds. Some cashiers gladly take off the refund while others give you a look like you were from outer space or a pleasant smile and then forget to deduct the amount at the end of the order.


It’s not the money that matters to me but the principle. After all, I’m not going to go and wait in line at the courtesy counter for 15 minutes over a lousy nickel. (Although I am sure that there are disgruntled shoppers who do.) But this harms the reputation of the store. After all, by using my own bags I am saving the store money. And I wonder if I was a nickel short if the store would let me walk out with my order of if they would make me put something back. Would it be that hard for cashiers to be told to ask shoppers if they have any reusable bags, just like they ask for my Price Plus Card or coupons? 


I find the one exception to this broken rule has been Whole Foods. Every time I’ve been in there and brought back a bag I’ve been enthusiastically greeted by the cashier who actually takes the bag from my carriage, bags my order and then double checks to make sure he or she has deducted 10-cents from my order for each bag.


Kudos to Whole Foods for making it easy for being green.

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