California Grocers Deliver Earth Day Message:Use Reusable Bags

SACRAMENTO, CA – (April 21, 2009) – Grocers throughout California are joining the worldwide Earth Day celebration on April 22 by promoting reusable shopping bags.

“Using reusable bags is one of the easiest and most effective ways to have a positive impact on our environment,” said Ronald Fong, President and CEO, California Grocers Association. “On Earth Day 2009, we intend to increase reusable bag awareness and educate consumers to the benefits of their use.”

To encourage consumers to keep going green, many California grocers on Earth Day will be selling reusable bags at a discounted price, and in some instances will be giving a limited number of bags away for free.

Grocers have sold reusable bags for years, Fong said, but it wasn’t until the passage of Assembly Bill 2449 – California’s statewide plastic bag recycling bill – in 2007, and the increased worldwide focus on sustainability, that reusable shopping bags moved into the environmental spotlight.

“More and more consumers are discovering that reusable bags are a viable alternative to traditional carryout bags,” Fong said.

While most grocers sell reusable bags at near cost, some consumers are making the up and coming bag a fashion statement. “Most reusable bags are under a dollar, although designer bags – often with fashionable messages – can be hundreds of dollars,” Fong said. The bags come in a variety of material including cloth, polyester and nonwoven polypropylene. Grocers are required to sell a reusable bag that is cloth or other machine washable fabric with handles, or a durable plastic bag with handles that is designed and manufactured for multiple reuse.

To reinforce reusable bag use, CGA recommends consumers purchase multiple bags and store them in convenient locations including their automobile. In addition, consumers should use reusable bags for all shopping and not just trips to the grocery store.

“Our industry understands that changing shopping habits doesn’t occur overnight,” Fong said. “Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, it will take time for consumers to embrace reusable bag use. The biggest challenge is remembering to bring the bag on return visits.”

While reusable bags are excellent for the environment, they do raise food safety concerns. Consumers should wash the bags regularly, particularly if there has been product leakage. Fong encourages consumers to error on the side of safety. “If in doubt, wash it out,” he recommends.

Here is a sampling of what grocers are doing on Earth Day:

  • Albertsons, Inc. is giving away reusable bags in Santa Barbara, Calabasas and Southgate and assisting in cleaning four state parks in San Diego.
  • Bristol Farms is giving away reusable bags to customers purchasing $25 or more.
  • Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market is giving away canvas bags to customers spending more than $10.
  • Gelson’s Markets is giving away a special limited edition Earth Day reusable bag to customers spending more than $25.
  • K.V. Mart is giving away free reusable bags.
  • Raley’s is unveiling its greenest store at a grand opening in Petaluma, CA.
  • Save Mart Supermarkets is teaming with Tropicana Products, Inc. to giveaway three reusable bags to customers purchasing a 128 oz. bottle of Tropicana Pure Premium orange juice.
  • Scolari’s Food & Drug is giving the first 100 customers a free reusable shopping bag.
  • Superior Grocers is providing water and fruit to volunteers participating in a tree planting event in the Sixth District of Los Angeles.
  • Whole Foods is offering a free tree to the first 100 customers who spend $25 or more.

The California Grocers Association is a non-profit, statewide trade association representing the food industry since 1898. CGA represents approximately 500 retail members operating over 6,000 food stores in California and Nevada, and approximately 200 grocery supplier companies. Retail membership includes chain and independent supermarkets, convenience stores and mass merchandisers.