Costco on Steroids!
Updated: Mar 8
Beginning May this year, NJ jumped on the bandwagon, recognizing our penchant for waste through the use of one-use bags. This consumer habit had become unsustainable. Not only has this regulatory change come with the usual humor, but like any disruption in our lives, it's also introduced opportunity.
This morning I stood behind a 20-something gentleman who chose to stuff his groceries into every pocket of his clothing, inside his shirt and Lord knows what body opening to make it out of the store without purchasing a 70 cent recyclable bag. Really? 70 cents is a steal these days, as my fellow New Jerseyians are coughing up far bigger bucks to pack their goods at the register. As a matter of fact, the conversion from disposable to reusable has become a big business.
I did a little hunting for data and discovered depending on the quality of the reusable bag, in many cases one reusable bag can replace 500-700 disposable bags. That's nothing to sneeze at. And if you choose to use cloth bags, and pop them in the wash when they get soiled, you get even more milage!
Introduction of the plastic bag is the root of all the fuss. Only a penny a bag to produce, (versus 5 cents a paper bag) they were a super cheap way to pack groceries - a penny a bag and 1000 years to decompose. It's crazy they were ever permitted and makes my mind race to all the other things we take for granted that will be obsolete in the future - like our gas guzzling cars.
But the markup on reusable bags has become the next racket. On average, each bag costs between a dime and quarter depending on the material and strength. Aside from this morning's 70 cent bag, they typically run between 2-3 dollars in the grocery store. That's one hell of a mark-up and some folks are raking it in at the expense of the consumer. Therein lies the pocket and shirt stuffer.
So, what are some options? Check out Amazon. Here's a set pf 10 reusable bags for only 14 dollars, $1.40/bag:
But, as a down deep marketer, I say the stores are all missing the boat. After all, remember they were giving away bags without blinking an eye since the beginning of time. Now that we are all trying to remember to bring those bags into the store with us, why not just give them to us - with their names printed front and center? It's cheap, cheap marketing.
In the malls, I always shop with a collapsable, recyclable bag. I have for years. My favorite is the Athleta bag because I can show it to the check out girl. "See, I'm advertising for Athleta all over your store and the mall today. You know why? Because they gave it to me without a fee when I checked out! You should tell your boss!"
Hey there Bloomingdales, Macy's, and Nordstrom - become market leaders and start giving away recyclable bags! If you're afraid to put your toe in, give them away when the customer spends $100! But, for goodness sake, don't charge me, or I will bring my Athleta bag to your store till the end of time.
*Starting May 4, 2022, New Jersey retail stores, grocery stores and food service businesses may not provide or sell single-use plastic carryout bags and polystyrene foam food service products. Single-use paper carryout bags are allowed to be provided or sold, except by grocery stores equal to or larger than 2500 square feet, which may only provide or sell reusable carryout bags. After November 4, 2021, plastic straws may be provided only upon the request of the customer. (NJ Dept of Environmental Protection)