What’s Your Policy on Rejected Shopping Bags?

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It almost happened again. I was in Kohl’s and purchased a handful of items — not enough to warrant packing them into a plastic shopping bag — so as the clerk reached below the counter, I stopped her and let her know that giving me a bag wasn’t necessary.

There it was, the startled, uncertain look of interrupted habit.  What should she do? Force me to take a bag because that is what she’s supposed to do? She was in process, after all. It’s hard to switch gears once you’re moving. Or stop mid-grab and respect my wishes as a landfill-conscious consumer?

To her credit, it was “cease and desist.” Some associates don’t get it. When I ask them not to put my items into a bag, to my horror they actually stuff the bag into the trash can. That can get really awkward. But to this woman’s credit, she put the bag back onto the packing handles.

But this interaction raises the question I’ve asked here before. What’s your policy toward shopping bags? Is your policy to have every customer’s purchased place into a bag automatically whether that purchase requires a bag or not? Or do you allow (or even encourage) the sales associates to ask customers if they want a bag in the first place?

I wonder if anyone has done a survey on the percentage of consumers who are given bags they don’t want? Or what percentage of consumers would accept (readily or reluctantly) not having a bag if given the option? I don’t know if anyone would pay for such a survey, but I for one would like to see the results.

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2 thoughts on “What’s Your Policy on Rejected Shopping Bags?”

  1. I can’t remember where I read this (I think I was a teen!), but it was an article on not taking a bag at the grocery store, and it also encouraged any readers who are store clerks to ask, “Do you need a bag?” when ringing someone up. I started doing it at my retail job, and I still do it at craft markets to this day. Most people, if you ask, will say no.

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