Co-op Market shoppers are a conscientious lot. Over the years, more and more of you have made it a habit to avoid waste by bringing your own reusable shopping bags. In fact, according to our recent Shopper Survey, 51% of you say you always bring your own bags, and 28% frequently do.
We’re proud to say we’ve never offered plastic grocery bags at the co-op, but we do go through a lot of paper bags: nearly 52,300 last year alone. Those bags, which may be used just one time, often for only a few minutes, cost the co-op more than $13,000 last year.
In some ways, paper may seem more environmentally friendly than plastic, which is made from petroleum. But paper bags come with their own (ahem) baggage.
Did you know it takes about four times as much water to make a paper bag as a plastic bag? And the fertilizers and other chemicals used in tree farming and paper manufacturing contribute to acid rain and water pollution.
Sustainability is part of our mission as a co-op. We are committed to being good stewards of planetary and fiscal resources. For this reason, we’ve decided to start charging 25¢ for paper bags starting Friday, April 5. This charge applies only to the heavy paper bags with handles, and it is the actual cost of the bags, not including freight.
Our shoppers who use SNAP will be exempt from the bag charge, as we know EBT will not pay for it.
As always, we want to offer options and alternatives.
- We’ve just set up a shelf in the entryway with cardboard boxes, free for the taking. Use a box. Save a bag! The grocery business generates a huge amount of cardboard waste. By reusing the boxes we receive in freight, you’re helping extend the life of precious resources.
- We always have reusable shopping totes for sale – including the green Bagitos with our raven and pea logo. Not only are those incredibly durable, but they also hold as many groceries as at least two paper bags. Best of all, they’re made from recycled plastic bottles, and Bagitos donates profit to support environmental education for school kids.
- Alaffia Fair Trade market baskets, handmade by women in Ghana and Togo of sustainably harvested grasses, make beautiful and sturdy grocery totes.
- Don’t forget: You can also eliminate single-use plastic bags by bringing your own clean containers for shopping in Bulk. Just ask a cashier to take the tare weight before you fill them. And you don’t have to use a plastic bag for Produce: Bring your own bag – or don’t bag it at all. It isn’t necessary.
- We’re exploring possible options for a free reusable bag exchange. We hope to set something up as soon as we we get the logistics worked out.
To help you with the transition away from paper bags, we’re planning to hold a BOGO sale on our reusable bags. Look for more details soon.
Can small acts save the planet?
“One bee is an annoyance, but a swarm is a game changer. Small acts in big amounts are a force to be reckoned with.”