Save money at the grocer with your own bags

Friday, June 27th, 2008

The paper versus plastic debate can be superseded when you utilize a reusable bag. Using small “stuffable” tote bags like the ChicoBag and Envirosax (both available at Park+Vine) makes it easier - just stuff one in your purse, bike bag, backpack, briefcase, or glove compartment so you’ll have it when you need it.

I gave my mom two spring colored ChicoBags for mothers’ day in May. A week after, she called me to share a story of her first public ChicoBag experience. With the clever little carabiner that is attached to the ChicoBag, she could clip them to her purse so she’d have them at the ready. After work she made a stop at the drug store to get a few of the things on her shopping list. When she made it to the checkout line, she told the cashier that she didn’t need a bag and proceeded to baffle and amaze both the cashier and everyone in line by unclipping, unstuffing, and right-side-outing her reusable shopping bag like magic. After a stalled pause and an awkward silence she added, “my daughter tells me that I need to reduce my environmental footprint.” Interestingly enough, that stirred nods of understanding from the cashier and the other moms in the checkout line. So the experience was memorable, but not traumatic. Happily for me, she enjoys saving a bag and will continue to use it.

Similarly, I remembered to bring a sackful of reusable bags to the grocery this week. I expected the mixture of bags from my gift with a subscription to Martha Stewart magazine, a Star Wars convention, a small corner store in Montreal, and a few other random places to be received with confusion. Not so!

To my surprise, the cashier at Kroger not only knew to use my bags without asking, she also immediately credited 5 cents per bag to my bill. I saved 30 cents from my food purchase and six bags worth of trees or petroleum. Not bad for one visit.

It just goes to show that local stores are getting used to people bringing their own bag. Two years ago when I brought my own bag to a store, it felt a lot less comfortable to use them and in some instances caused a few stares. Now at some places like Findlay Market, you hardly see anyone accepting a disposable plastic shopping bag from a vendor. Change is happening because of us, keep up the good work!

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