Welcome All! I'm a dreamer, I hope you are too! A Posse ad Esse, or From possibility to reality, is a general state of mind. I hope you'll share your possibilities with me as I will with you. Namaste~

November 27, 2007

Call me "David"

No, I'm not changing my name, but I am challenging Goliath in a sense.
The other afternoon A~ picked up a couple of reusable bags at our local Wal-Mart store. She got them for me to use. I generally reuse one of the plastic bags that we get from shopping to carry my lunch and what not to work each day. She, being ever the considerate wife thought I could use these bags instead, which I am by the way. They, the bags that is, got me to thinking though. I think that it's great the a huge retail outlet like Wal-Mart is trying to make an effort to encourage their shoppers to re-use, and are providing us the ability to purchase the tools to do it with. But if you've ever taken your own bags into a Wal-Mart and tried to fill them without both backing the whole system up, and perplexing the poor girl behind the counter then you're better than us. The problem as I've found it, it that all the Wal-Marts use the carousel style bagging islands that allow them to expeditiously fill as many plastic bags as they can as fast as they can, while you load your cart. Basically, the system is not made to encourage the use of the reusables.
So what about this challenge?
I emailed Wal-Marts corporate headquarters the other day with my issue and explained what I thought would be a potential solution, after all you shouldn't complain without coming to the table with possible solutions right?

Here is the text of my mail:
I have noticed WalMart's efforts lately to reduce their environmental impact and appreciate it. I recently purchased a couple of their reusable bags for use in my local shopping. My problem with them is that there is nowhere I can load them at my local walmart store because of the carousel style plastic bag dispensers that all the stores have. I thought a unique way of encouraging people to use these low impact bags would be to one, provide a table style checkout area similar to older grocery stores that used to have a bagger. Two, would be to perhaps limit these lanes, during the peak hours at least, to people using the reusable bags or that have brought their own. I want to use these bags at walmart, but have really had a hard time because of this. Also, at stores like Smiths and Albertsons, I get a .05 cent discount per bag used. It really doesn't amount to much but again, it encourages the use of reusables. I am glad to see Walmart making some effort on this front, I'd just like to see the effort be complete, rather than just veneer.Thank you, I hope to hear something on this from you.

Today I received this response:
Dear P~, Sam Walton built Wal-Mart on a very simple belief--the customer is the boss. That means we are always looking for better ways to serve the people who shop at Wal-Mart. Each comment, concern and suggestion is very important because it gives us the opportunity to improve our overall service. Rest assured that your message has been forwarded to the proper division where it will be reviewed and carefully considered. Thank you for your observations. It is customers like you who help us continue to offer everyday low prices and friendly service. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

Now I have no delusions that this was not a canned response; I'm sure it was. But I hold hope that maybe I will see a change. That maybe my challenge will not go unanswered. OK, so maybe the challenge isn't a huge one, but I'd like to see if there's a way to be the trim tab on this. And I'd like to encourage you too as well. I know there are a lot of you that view Wal-Mart as the evil empire and refuse to shop there yourselves. I can appreciate that, and it's your decision, but if a company with the kind of wide spread consumer base that they have can be steered into even a moderately sustainable direction, it could have a trickle down effect of huge proportions. I invite you to join me in this.; send them a letter. I thought about including a scripted letter in this post, but you know, honestly, I think they probably react the same to scripted spamming by action groups about the same way we respond to canned auto-responses, not at all. Use your own words. If you agree with me that it would be nice to see actions by them that would encourage consumers to use reusables tell them. If you have a better suggestion than mine, by all means tell them that. I think the most important thing is to let them know it is on our radar, and we are paying attention.
If you decide to take me up on this challenge, let me know about it, and by all means pass the word along. Link here, re-write it on your own blog, or email it if you like. I'm not trying to get people to read me by this, I just want to make a change.
I'll be sure to let you know if I hear more.

link to Wal-Mart corporate contact us page.


farm mom said...

It's funny you should write about this, I was thinking about writing up a post myself. I am one of those people who pretty much hate walmart, but where I am, walmart has taken over all the small towns and driven away all the little grocery and department stores so that you only have 1 choice. In the small town nearest me, where I often shop there is still one grocery store hanging on, and that is where I shop, but if I need something non-grocery, I have no choice but to shop walmart.
Anyway, I was there last week and I too noticed the recyclable bags and I too felt it was important to let the mega-corp know these steps were appreciated, so I bought 4, and put them on the conveyer first. The lady behind the counter looked at them with disdain, then began to bag my items in the plastic bags and leave the reusables there on the counter. When I came up to where she was she asks me "so, did you want your stuff in these bags?" And I, of course, say "yes I did" She then holds them up and shows me how they are zip-strip held together in multiple places and she cannot open them! She then puts my reusable bags into a plastic bag!!!! She then tells me, with a shake of her head "people tell me they waste their money on these all the time, and never remember to bring them back in. If you want to switch, and buy the ones with the walmart logo on them, those open up real easy because they want the free advertisement!" Wow! I agree with you, it is a difficult situation for the person behind the counter to bag your things with the plastic bag roundtable in the way. As for me, I'm going to be sure to bring back my reusable bags everytime, and seek out that particular employee everytime I'm there!! LOL!
I'll write a letter. I think it's a good idea.

P~ said...

Yeah farm mom! Glad to hear you're in there with me! wouldn't it be nice if maybe they made the bags with little eyelets on the sides that would allow them to slide right over the prongs on the dreaded plastic bag dispensers. Hmmm, I may have to explore that... could be a solution in the making.
Thanks for sharing

Christy said...

I bring my own bags when I go to Walmart, they aren't even the ones from Walmart, I got them at another grocery store. I always put them on the belt first and they always try to scan them. After I explain they are my bags, they always seem happy to put my stuff in them. They just stand up the bag on top of the carousel and fill it. The second time I brought my own bags the man checking me out said, "Oh, you're the bag lady" I guess I'm famous or something.

And one day at the grocery store I was using my own bags and the woman behind me in line went and grabbed some of the reusable bags the grocery store was selling. Peer pressure can work!

Marianna said...

Love this post! I will write even though as a non-customer I may not be too persuasive. However, I will also include Meijer and Target in my writing. My favorite bag reuse story is from just this week. I have a large bag from Wild Oats. I can usually get my entire purchase in it. Well, I used it at Kroger. It had my entire purchase in it, but when I started unpacking at home I realized the bagger had double bagged (using plastic) three seperate items!!! ARGH! This happens to me all the time. It is as if they simply do not get the concept! I don't want my milk bagged. If it sweats onto something so what. Onion skins go everywhere...so what! And I didn't put the potatoes in a plastic bag in the produce dept. for a reason. I do better at watching them when I don't have children distracting me!

P~ said...

I'm so glad you'll be helping out. I can't say that it'll do ever be able to make a difference for sure, but I just think I have to at least try. If Wal-Mart were actively encouraging people to use the reusables and not just paying lip service to it, it could really help to cause a shift in the habits of a lot of people. I love your story by the way. Thanks for sharing!