Wednesday, November 07, 2007

**True** environmental responsibility? Uh, Fred Meyer, I invite you to step up to the plate.

It's been interesting watching the grocers get on the environmental bandwagon and encouraging the use of reusable bags. I'm pretty good at bringing my own bags, most of the time, especially with the help of a lovely gift from RSG on her last trip to Mexico. She brought me two of those awesome Mexican market bags with Frida Kahlo screen printed on them. Everytime I bring them to the market with me the checkers get chatty, especially at New Seasons. "Ooh, I love this bag" and "I love Frida Kahlo" blah blah blah. It's fun, actually, and the bags hold a ton more than most plastic bags.

So back to the topic at hand. Last Sunday you may have seen the promotional insert in Sunday's paper from Fred Meyer. They were specifically promoting using their reusable bags, and the importance of reducing the amount of plastic bags they use. It was probably the most visible and specific messaging I had seen from them about doing so. This weeks in-store promotion includes free reusable Fred Meyer branded bags with purchases of XX amount. Cool, huh?

Hhahhahahahhahaha. AdRi went to the store today and returned with several of the reusable bags. And inside them? Items bagged in the plastic bags. She said she actually had to stop the checker from putting her items in the plastic bags and then in the reusable ones. This coming after catching the checker originally putting the reusable bags INSIDE plastic bags like they were products she was purchasing, and, well, they needed to be bagged! Oh dear.

Last time I blogged about Fred Meyer and their little bagging problems, my statcounter showed their parent company visited my blog. (Everyone wave here at Kroger's: Hi Kroger's!!!!) So since they're apparently listening, I have a little advice for you. Come on, lean in. I won't even charge you for this. Kudos on your work to reduce your environmental footprint and to encourage your customers to do so as well. But if you're going to really make this policy stick? Start with thorough training of your staff. And once you all get it down? Then sing its praises in your marketing materials. Because then I'll really believe you mean it. Right now? It's just a little greenwashed.


The Recovering Straight Girl said...

Oh yes, I saw the promo in the paper and today I saw the ad on TV. I don't shop at Fred Meyer often, I'm more of a Trader Joe's, Costco, kind of gal, but the last time I went to Fred Meyer, with my bags the checker looked at me like she wanted me dead. Apparently it's a hell of a lot easier to bag the groceries into those plastic bags than in my reusable bags. I offered to bag my own groceries and she started to like me a little bit better, but before that, I thought the old girl was going to have a stroke. Yes, Fred Meyer, you MUST do a little education with your staff to make this work for everyone. I don't like feeling guilty for doing my little part to help the earth!

patti_cake said...

That is a great idea but i'm laughing at the plastic bags inside the reusable bags. I'm sure the poor checker, well i'm sure it was just force of habit.
My firsr ever job at 16 was at Kroger.

brett said...

Was just at Freddy's on Interstate last night. Boy, for only being a couple of years old, it already feels dingy and gross. Yes, I'm hatin' I'm a New Seasons guy to the core and only went there because we had a gift cert.

One thing my love pointed out. Picture this: Driving down Interstate and you get to Interstate/Lombard and BOOOM, there is the bright big Fred Meyers yelling at your - FRED MEYERS!!!!!. Futher down the street, you come upon the intersection of Portland Blvd and Interstate and theres new seasons, low key, kinda hanging back saying, yo, how ya doin'. wanna come shop here? its ok if you don't, we understand. have a great day... All in a soothing voice.

just my thoughts.

purpletwinkie said...

Things like this take time to change. For over a decade I worked for a retail drug chain and experienced the relative confusion during the onset of"paper or plastic" from both the inside and out.

I've seen slow changes at Smith's (our Fred Meyer under the Kroger umbrella here in Las Vegas) and more reusable bags prominently displayed in the stores.

LeLo in NoPo said...

I look forward and am glad for these changes, please don't get me wrong. The point, however, is that touting your greenness in your ads and in your environmental reporting without instilling these beliefs and actions with your staff is just a form of greenwashing.

Oh and Brett, you are SO right. New Seasons is just an all around better choice, for many reasons!

Elizabeth said...

I am truly, madly, deeply in love with your Frida bags. Reusable bags are such a wonderful option and I am so glad that they are becoming so mainstream, for the clutter reducing benefit as well as the enviromental benefit.

Amy said...

To put this in a slightly different context:

I'm from Memphis, but picked up the habit of using cotton string bags for groceries while living in England and Vermont. I realized how much I preferred it -- no more plastic sacks twisting painfully around my fingers while I carried my groceries home, plus the obvious (tiny) environmental benefit.

So when I got back to Memphis, I tried using the same bags there. The baggers at every single chain (including Kroger) looked at my like I was f-ing insane whenever I offered them my bags. Whenever I attempted it, I got used to having to explain what my intentions were two or three times (just use them instead of the plastic bags -- no, just put the groceries inside these. It's okay, I promise.) Once I even had a teenage bagger refuse outright to touch them -- he said, with obvious disdain, "if you want to bag stuff your way, why don't you apply for a job?" I had a little chat with his shift manager on my way out.

In most of the country, bringing your own bags to the supermarket (!!) is unimaginable. It just wouldn't occur to anyone to do it. So I found it sort of touching that Fred Meyer was doing this -- completely inadequate, perhaps, but sweet. At least they're trying, bless their hearts.

cyndiro said...

Another weird thing that Fred Meyer does is sell their house-brand eggs from "Vegetarian Fed Hens" in STYROFOAM egg cartons.

I like my Hawthorne Fred Meyer's though; it's small, I can walk to it, and some of the checkers have been there for at least 20 years.