retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Washington Post reports that lawmakers for Washington, DC, are considering legislation that would levy a five cent tax on each paper or plastic handed out by stores to shoppers. According to the story, the bill, which would be one of the toughest in the country, would split the five cents “between businesses and the city, which would use its share to help clean the Anacostia River and offer free reusable bags to elderly and low-income residents.”

However, the story notes, “The District's proposal could have some consumers trying to balance their environmental instincts against their pocketbooks” as consumers there already have been affected by a recession that has made it harder for them to buy groceries.

KC's View:
As I have said here many times, I wish that these kinds of advances could be made without government legislation and taxation. But I continue to believe that from an environmental perspective, anything we can do to get people to shift from disposable bags to non-disposable bags is a positive thing.

There’s also a point at which one has to hope that people will do the right thing for the right reasons.

Interestingly, the Times Union reports that Hannaford Bros. is about to end a policy that has been in place since the early nineties, “giving shoppers who carry their groceries home in reusable totes a 5-cent credit for each bag … The decision stems from recognizing that the few pennies customers gained for their effort made for a modest reward at best.” In addition, the company said, the policy didn’t seem to be inducing new customers to use non-disposable bags.

However, Hannaford also says that between 12 and 15 percent of the items being sold at Hannaford are being carried home in non-disposable bags (of which Hannaford has some of the cleverest designed bags out there, by the way).

This seems like a good time for a contest.

I’d be interested in proposals for how supermarkets and/or governments ideally should work – together or apart – to get people to use non-disposable bags when they go shopping. Send me your ideas…make them innovative…and I’ll send the winners limited edition MorningNewsBeat canvas bags, designed by EcoBags. (I’ll use this promotional moment to tell you that pretty much everyone who has seen and used our MNB bags love them – they are strong and big and versatile…and you ought to sell them at your store with your own logo on them.)

Try to keep your entries to 100 words or fewer, just so this thing doesn’t become unmanageable. Okay?