The Roanoke Natural Foods Co-op has released figures from a year-old program that allows shoppers who use their own grocery bags to fund local charities while preventing thousands of disposable paper and plastic bags from landing in local landfills.
Just a year after launching the program, the Co-op estimates the program has kept nearly 60,000 bags out of the trash, while nearly $5,0000 has been contributed to local charities.
Co-op Director Bruce Phlegar says the program is straightforward. “If shoppers opt to use their own, re-usable shopping bag it saves the Co-op money that would have been spent on traditional paper or plastic grocery bags. We wanted to help the environment and local charities, by channeling our savings to agencies that need and deserve extra income.”
Phlegar explained that customers receive a poker chip every time they use their own bag instead of one provided by the store. Customers drop their chips into bins near the exit. Each bin is labeled with the name of a local not-for-profit organization. At the end of the month, the Co-op pays the charity a nickel for every chip.