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Reusable grocery bags – apparently bribes don’t work

I got to Wegmans last week, plopped the baby in the cart, grabbed my list and coupons and started toward the door feeling confident. Then it hit me. My stash of reusable grocery bags was still hanging on the hook on the basement stairway.

I was upset, not because I was going to miss out on any kind of rebate (Wegmans doesn’t offer one), or because I was going to be contributing to giant piles of garbage in the ocean by using a few plastic bags (they do a fine job on dog walks), but because I can lug a lot more groceries into the house a lot more quickly with my canvas bags than I can with the plastic ones that cut into my wrists.

Reasons like this are probably a more powerful way to get people to start remembering to bring reusable bags to the grocery store than a pennies-per-bag discount, the Associated Press reports that several national grocers are discovering.

From the AP:

Kroger spokesman Brendon Cull says the company has found no significant difference between reusable bag frequency in markets with rebates and those without them.

Moral appeals and trendiness are more powerful than small discounts, said Ted Brown, a consultant who helped develop one of the earliest reusable bag programs two decades ago. Make reusables fashionable and fun, and shoppers won’t forget.

The nickel-per-bag discount I used to get at Giant never really made much of a noticeable dent in my bill. But when I see the signs in the Wegmans parking lot asking if I remembered my bags, I sometimes double back to my car to get them.

Some areas of the country have banned these bags or levied a tax on them. Efforts like that have been talked about in Virginia, but they never go anywhere.

Do you find reusable grocery bags a pain or a convenience? What helps you to remember to bring them?


  • havingfun

    The signs at Wegmans are the best! I wish they would put those up at Target too. I try to keep them in my front seat as a reminder, but I often forget them. The signs in the parking lot cause me to double back to grab them…once I am close to the front door or in the store, I am not going back out again to get them.

  • Muttley

    I would like to put in a plug for Wegman’s plastic bags. They may not be reusable, but for picking up dog poop they can”t be beat!