A year ago this past September, Westport, CT became one of the first small towns in the US to ban plastic bags. They just banned them; no complex tax structures, no benefits to other non-profits, no kick-backs to merchants from the state. The thinking was that if plastic bags were known to be harmful to the environment, why not do away with them?
An article that just appeared in the NY Times shows that one year later there is a 70% increase in the number of people bringing their own bags to the store (we love that) and a local official estimates that this adds up to 600,000 fewer plastic bags in the waste stream. WOW!
More interesting to me is that the local Stop & Shop Supermarket, which initially opposed the ban, now has employees applauding when folks bring in and use reusable shopping bags. How cool is that? That’s leadership, plain and simple.
Stop & Shop is teaching its employees to give positive feedback to customers that makes them FEEL GOOD about their decision to bring their bags. By clapping they’re drawing attention to the positive behavior and training other customers (and their children) and employees to bring their own bags.
And, the most serendipitous thing about the bag ban is that it has raised the level of environmental consciousness in residents, as a whole. According to Gene Seidman, another of the sponsoring officials, “People are thinking about groundwater, Styrofoam, drain runoff,” he said. “There are a lot of environmental issues that people are thinking about, and we are all in this together.”
Indeed we are. What is your local supermarket or farmer’s market doing to promote reusable bags? Let’s share some best practices.
So as Sharon Rowe (our CEO) is fond of saying, “Please remember your bags. When you do, others are reminded.”