Giant of Carlisle, Pa., is celebrating Earth Day all month long. Kroger Co. launched an online contest encouraging recycling and sustainability. Whole Foods Market set Earth Day as the end of plastic-bag use at its store checkout lanes. Supervalu is sponsoring an Arctic expedition to raise awareness about global warming.
As sustainability becomes increasingly important to consumers, retailers have ramped up their efforts to show that they are in sync with shoppers' sympathies. Those efforts have come out in full bloom in time for Earth Day, this Tuesday, April 22, around which many chains have scheduled events to call attention to their “greenness.”
Ahold's Giant of Carlisle chain said it would donate 5 cents for every reusable shopping bag it sells during the month of April to the Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful campaign. It is also donating 100 park benches to local communities, and working with a Virginia manufacturing company called Trex to convert plastic grocery bags that consumers return to the stores into park benches.
Giant is also promoting awareness of “Earth-friendly” products, including its Nature's Promise organic and natural store brand, and is participating in the Organic Trade Association's Go Organic! for Earth Day promotion to raise awareness about organic products.
“While this is the first year we have tied all of our environmentally friendly programs into a month-long awareness campaign, we believe that we can make a difference on Earth Day and every day,” said Denny Hopkins, vice president of advertising and marketing, Giant of Carlisle, in a prepared statement.
Wal-Mart, too, has declared April “Earth Month” and is tying eco-friendly shopping, bag reuse and awareness into a month-long campaign.
The company last month unveiled a raft of special product promotions for the sustainability cause, including organic cotton T-shirts, mulch made from recycled rubber, and cold-water detergent.
Like many other food retailers, Wal-Mart also scheduled a reusable bag giveaway for this past Saturday, April 19, when it said it hoped to dispense 1 million free reusable bags.
Cincinnati-based Kroger took the bag giveaway one step further with an interactive promotion that lets customers try their hand at designing reusable bags. Consumers can go to Kroger.com/green through May 23 and enter their own designs as well as vote on other design submissions. The designer of the winning bag will receive a $500 Kroger gift card, four finalists will each receive a $250 gift card and the five runners-up will each receive a $100 Kroger gift card.
Kroger also said it has begun making the bottles for its Kroger-brand water using a thinner plastic, which it estimates will reduce waste by 1.3 million pounds annually.
Whole Foods, based in Austin, Texas, got the jump on all competitors with its announcement earlier this year that it would completely eliminate plastic bags from the checkout lanes at all its stores by this Tuesday. The company will continue to offer paper bags made from recycled materials.
To encourage reuse, Whole Foods is offering refunds of 5 cents per bag for any bag at all that consumers bring into the stores to tote their own groceries. It is also offering a selection of its own reusable bags, including what it calls its “Better Bag,” a shopping bag made from recycled plastic bottles, for 99 cents.
Safeway, Pleasanton, Calif., is tying in Earth Day to promotions for its “O” line of store-brand organic products. The chain is offering customers a $40 booklet of discount coupons with the purchase of any product from the chain's 300-SKU line.
Supervalu has taken a slightly different tack. The Minneapolis-based company last month unveiled its support for the Will Steger Global Warming 101 Ellesmere Expedition, a 1,400-mile trek by dogsled across Ellesmere Island, the northernmost island in the Canadian Arctic. Supervalu said it will support the expedition, which can be followed on globalwarming101.com, by supplying natural and organic foods.
Some examples of chains conducting bag promotions include:
H.E. Butt Grocery Co., San Antonio, which reportedly is giving away free reusable shopping bags to any customer who brings in five or more plastic bags between 3 and 7 p.m.
Kowalski's, Minneapolis, which said it would give away a free canvas tote bag with the purchase of at least $50 worth of groceries this past Saturday.
Fresh & Easy, El Segundo, Calif., which will give away free bags made of recycled plastic at all 61 stores on Tuesday.