BriarPatch takes steps to reduce single-use bags
April 21, 2014
BriarPatch Co-op Community Market is set to become the first grocery store in western Nevada County to adopt a policy of charging 10 cents each for large, single-use paper grocery bag.
The charge will go into effect today, Earth Day, bringing the community-owned grocery store in step with the most forward-thinking food co-ops and stores in the state.
Shoppers will have the choice of paying 10 cents for each new large paper grocery bag, purchasing reusable bags, or bringing and using their own reusable bags.
Many municipalities, including Truckee and many Bay Area counties, already require grocers to charge for grocery bags.
In March, (BriarPatch) shoppers avoided using 15,609 new bags by bringing their own.
A ban on plastic bags, which has been adopted by most of these same municipalities, would not affect BriarPatch, since it has never offered single-use plastic grocery bags.
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The store's most recent Shopper Satisfaction Survey, conducted in June 2013, showed that most BriarPatch shoppers are ready for this change. Fully 83 percent of survey respondents answered "yes" to the question: "Would you support a ten-cent bag fee for paper bags in order to reduce usage and promote reusable bags?"
Many BriarPatch shoppers already bring and use their own grocery bags. In March, shoppers avoided using 15,609 new bags by bringing their own.
Some 6,000 new bags per week were used, though, which shows the real significance of the new policy.
Mike McCary, BriarPatch's front end manager, says many people forget their reusable bags in the car.
In response, new signs have been installed in the parking lot to help shoppers remember to bring in bags that are already in their cars.
Why a 10 cent charge? Because it works. Stores around the state have found that charging shoppers for single-use shopping bags reduces their use — in a big way.
The large paper bags currently used at BriarPatch are made of 100 percent recycled paper, but even these have significant environmental impacts. Harsh chemicals, water, and energy are required to repulp the paper before it is cleaned, screened, and reused; and increased carbon emissions result when they are trucked to stores and as they break down in landfills.
To help shoppers make the transition to bringing their reusable bags, BriarPatch is committed to keeping the price of reusable bags low and offering a wide selection.
BriarPatch will make donations to environmental groups working to lower carbon emissions when the total number of bags re-used reaches milestones such as 100,000 bags.
As a small reward for their efforts, every bag re-user gets a "BriarPatch Bag Club" button.
Stephanie Mandel is the marketing manager for BriarPatch Co-op Community Market.
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