Reusable bags have become a popular environmental statement for retailers — and apparently they're selling pretty well, too. According to market research firm the NPD Group, sales of reusable bags have increased by 72% over the past year.
Kroger, which has offered reusable bags for 15 years, sold 2.5 million last year and hopes to sell 10 million this year. Meijer has sold 800,000 bags in 182 stores since last October. Many companies sell their totes at a discount, and some offer additional incentives. Britain's Tesco recently announced that it had saved more than 2 billion plastic bags in the two years since it introduced its Green Clubcard Points program, which offers bonus points to customers for environmentally friendly deeds.
“The ‘carrot’ approach clearly works,” said Lucy Neville-Rolfe, Tesco's corporate and legal affairs director.
To stimulate interest, retailers are introducing bag design contests and playing up the increasingly chic appeal that the bags have. Earlier this month, Whole Foods announced it would partner with musician Sheryl Crow to create a limited-edition reusable bag.
Of course, the “stick” approach can be employed as well. The city council in Seattle passed a 20-cent plastic bag tax in July, and California is currently weighing its own 25-cent fee.