Tuesday, June 24, 2008

On Bags. Again. And Ikea.

My good friend Meghan up in old Beantown recently sent me an email that she received from Target regarding their paper v plastic bag policy. Meghan was, naturally, wondering why Target had eliminated paper bags as a choice. Here's the response she received:

Dear Meghan, I'm sure you'll be pleased to learn that Target shopping bags are made from recycled materials with environmentally friendly soy and water-based ink. Cashiers will use traditional plastic bags unless a guest requests paper or it's a large grocery purchase. Paper bags are available at all SuperTarget locations, and non-SuperTarget stores in Oregon only. We still invite you to recycle or re-use our bags on your own, although we don't encourage guests to bring back previously used bags for new purchases at our stores. Every bag is printed with codes to help you determine how to recycle them. These codes vary based on the size of the bag, ink used and other factors. Because local regulations and services can vary greatly, you might need to do a little checking to find out how and where to recycle the bags in your community. Right now, California is the only state where Target offers a bag recycling service at our stores. Thanks for shopping with us. We'll see you again soon at Target. Sincerely, Garry Target Guest Relations www.target.com
And this is what Meghan wrote to me in regards to this response which I whole-heartedly agree with:
-- this is an absolutely ludicrous way to say:
1. We don't offer paper bags.
2. We don't encourage you to reuse plastic bags for your target purchases.
3. We don't know how you'll recycle the plastic bags we offer. You ought to contact you city government.
I would have preferred the "I'm sorry but it's too expensive for us to offer paper bags at this time" explanation. It's less insulting.

Ikea is bugging me as well.

Why does it get so much credit for being so green and good? The whole charging people for bags thing is pointless. Does anyone consider for more than five seconds the five cents extra you have to pay for a bag? You're already dropping half a G at that Swedish den of iniquity, what's five more cents?!

I read a particularly astute article about Ikea in ReadyMade magazine. And then I found it online! I, of course, focused in on the consumerist message, most notably when they quote the author John Seabrook (Nobrow: The Culture of Marketing, the Marketing of Culture) when he says, "It's gotten to the point where people go there like they go to the park."

That, my friends, is something to consider. And bags, too!


Linda said...

Shame on Target. They are good corporate citizens through a high level of charitable contributions in local communities...communities that are becoming littered with bags...Target bags. Time to go from red to green, Target. Are you listening?

frogfotog said...

American companies are so far behind on this. The only major supermarket I know of cutting bags is Whole Foods.

Even China has banned stores from using plastic bags:

For all that companies talk about doing something for the environment, as you well know it's almost always superficial (e.g. Ikea). The best example I've heard of a big retailer embracing good, meaningful environmental policies is Marks & Spencer: http://plana.marksandspencer.com/

If we could get American companies to follow THEIR lead we'd be in good shape.

Dana said...

Target now sells a cloth bag for 50 cents in my market. It is red and emblazoned with their omnipresent logo. I own three and used them yesterday when I gave them my usual weekly tithing. No questions asked.