Paper bag fee experiment

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Thanks to concerned members and our Planet Committee, we are always on the lookout for ways to reduce our environmental footprint. Food packaging, whether it comes from our kitchen or from our suppliers, is one of the areas we are working to improve.  We charge customers for takeout containers and coffee cups, and we source the most sustainable and biodegradable containers that are available. See this blog post about our new backyard- compostable cellophane bags!  The shopping bags that we give away to customers is another area where we felt we could improve.

Currently, our members and customers use about 1250 bags per week. Considering that we have over 13,000 transactions per week, we’re doing pretty well, but 5,000 bags per month is a lot of bags!

In August of 2018, we conducted a survey of members to see what suggestions members had for reducing the number of plastic and paper bags we provide for customers. Of the 220 members who responded, 74% supported charging a small fee for paper shopping bags. While this response is hardly statistically significant for our 13000+ members, we thought it was worth bringing back the fee for paper bags that we have had in the past.

Starting January 2, 2018, members and customers who choose paper bags at the till will pay $.15 for each bag they use, which reflects the actual cost for us to buy the bag. Each member can control their choice and their cost. If we don’t charge anyone for bags, then the cost of all those bags comes from all the members! The bag fees paid by customers will be used to support environmental and waste-reduction initiatives such as a better waste sorting system, cardboard recycling, and more sustainable containers for our demo program.

We’ll try the bag fee out for a few months and see if it is effective in reducing the number of bags we provide. Meanwhile, let us know what you think!