Paper? Plastic? How about reusable?

PERKINS TWP. Local stores are carrying more green -- and not just in their produce sections. From reusable shopping ba
Janet
May 24, 2010

PERKINS TWP.

Local stores are carrying more green -- and not just in their produce sections.

From reusable shopping bags to products with reduced packaging, stores across the nation are sending a message:

Go green. Save the earth.

Retailers are providing shoppers with affordable, reusable bags -- reducing the use of disposable plastic bags.

The reusable grocery bag trend is popping up at stores everywhere. Many retailers offer the bags for as low as 99 cents for customers who don't want to bring home additional disposable bags.

More than 380 billion plastic bags, sacks and wraps are consumed in the United States each year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Retail giants Wal-Mart and Target are jumping on the going-green bandwagon, peddling cheap, light-weight bags to customers wanting to do what's right for Earth.

Wal-Mart introduced its reusable bags late last year after the large retailer released its sustainability report, which outlines the company's efforts to be environmentally conscious.

The company's reusable bag is a simple design: a black tote with the phrase, "Paper or plastic? Neither."

The bags, which are made from 85 percent recycled content, sell for $1 and are located near the checkout lanes in the stores. Wal-Mart will accept the bags to recycle once a bag reaches the end of its life span.

"People expect us to do this and we should expect in ourselves," said Wal-Mart spokesman Kory Lundberg. "... We're moving closer to our goals -- creating zero waste."

Target's signature red color decorates its reusable shopping bags, which come in two sizes. The bags snap into a convenient carrying case not much larger than a compact disc.

The bags are made from recycled material and cost 99 cents for the smaller bag and $1.49 for the larger size.

The reusable bags made their debut last year in California. The bags were launched nationwide in January.

"Our commitment to the environment has been a long-standing commitment," said Target spokeswoman Susan Giesen.

The Meijer store at 4702 Milan Road has trouble keeping its reusable bags in stock.

The local store introduced the bright blue, synthetic-material bags in November.

"We've had a lot of requests from customers to provide something like that for them," said store director Edna Phillips.

The reusable bags can easily fit more groceries and products than a single disposable plasticor paper bag.

"Meijer wants to do their part to preserve the environment," she said. "This is one route to go on doing that."

Bags aside, all three companies are looking at additional ways to be environmentally savvy.

Meijer plans to replace its lights with energy-saving bulbs. Its plans also include investing in grocery products that don't use harsh detergents.

"We're always introducing more earth-friendly products," Phillips said.

By spring, Wal-Mart plans to stock only concentrated laundry detergent, which is packaged in smaller bottles. The smaller size reduces the amount of plastic used.

"We have a goal to reduce overall packaging by 5 percent by 2013," Lundberg said.

Target sells eco-friendly items to its customers. Certified organic cotton bed linens, eco-friendly cleaning products and natural health and beauty products are just a few of the items the company is stocking in its stores. In 2006, the company kept 385 million hangers out of landfills.

"We want to be a good partner with the community," Giesen said.