You may have read my earlier post on Wal-Mart vs. Bringing Your Own Bags, where I wrote about my experiences trying to buy and use reusable shopping bags at my local Wal-Mart. Soon after I wrote that post, I wrote a letter to the manager of that Wal-Mart outlining the benefits of better training for their staff and a better setup for use of reusable bags. Less than a week later, I received a phone call from the Manager there, but I had just that day left to go out of town for over two weeks so I never had a chance to call her.
Well, today I went back into that Wal-Mart, and I just have to say, WOW! I have no idea how much difference my letter made or if it was something that was already on their agenda, but today's visit was a wonderful surprise. I'd forgotten my bags again but knowing that their bags are only $1 and that they are sturdy and useful for so many other things, I went in search of another bag to buy. I asked someone out on the floor where they had them stocked (since the last time I was in there, I only saw them in the greenhouse area), and she told me that they're now at every register, and that my cashier can pack my purchases right into them as I check out.
I went back to the registers, but didn't see any bags where I'd expected to see them -- hanging somewhere around the magazines and candy. I asked where they were, and was delighted to have the answer pointed out to me: Every cashier-run checkout carousel was set up with reusable bags in one or more of the bagging stations, available not just for sale but ready for the cashier to snip off the tag and start bagging your items. Bags were also at the smaller "20 items or less" registers, though I didn't see any at the self-checkout.
The manager isn't in today but I plan to call her tomorrow to thank her for taking this action. I don't know yet how much my letter had to do with it, but I'd like to think that it wasn't just a coincidence. I'd like to think that one person making a request really can make a difference, even in a store such as Wal-Mart.
I hope that all grocery stores will start making reusable bags easily available, and will train their staff, set up their checkout areas, and establish procedures to make using reusable bags relatively effortless for both the company and the consumer. And if your local store doesn't already have that in place, write to the manager and request it: You never know what might happen as a result!