Early adopters of reusable grocery bags probably remember the reactions of confounded cashiers and baggers, who weren’t sure what to make of shoppers who wanted neither paper nor plastic. But the practice has become so commonplace, shoppers rarely have to ask a bagger to stop shrouding their groceries in plastic before placing them in a reusable bag. Pretty much everyone’s gotten with the program, at least from the store employee side of the equation.
On the way out of the Gwinnett Street Kroger store earlier this week, I noticed the cling decal, right, on the window. By saving bags, in this case, Kroger means not giving so many away and fitting more into the bags they do, according to the 2010 Kroger Sustainability Report.
Curious about how the 138,825 bags figure was tallied, I called Kroger headquarters and got the answer. Nationwide, Kroger claims to have saved 159 million plastic bags.
“The way we account for bag savings is pretty simple,” said Keith Dailey, Kroger’s director of corporate communications. It turns out that the 159 million bag figure is derived from some 80 thousand cases of plastic bags the company did not order, based on the previous year figures. “It’s likely they did the same calculations at the store level,” he said, to arrive at the 138,825 bags saved number for Gwinnett Street. Dailey confirmed the reduction in bag use was achieved by promoting (and selling) reusable bags and training baggers to be more efficient.
Kroger’s sustainability report also describes the company’s efforts to reduce its energy and carbon footprint, improve transportation efficiency and reduce waste. While the word “bicycle” does not appear anywhere in the 32 page document (I hoped to see bicycles mentioned in the “Enabling Customer Sustainability” section), it’s worth noting that the Gwinnett Street Kroger provides more bicycle parking than any other store of any kind in Savannah. And it’s right at the front door, not out by the loading dock or on the side of the building. Providing ample and convenient bike parking clearly enables customers to make sustainable transportation choices. They should put that in the next sustainability report.