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Choosing the “greenest” personalized totes: three tips for retailers

Choosing the “Greenest” Personalized Totes: Three Tips for Retailers

Hundreds of retailers have begun to offer personalized totes in their stores as alternatives to plastic shopping bags.  The intent is to encourage customers to purchase these promotional bags and use them every time they shop in their stores.  Retailers hope to not only save money on plastic shopping bags, but to keep them from going to landfills across North America.

The advantages to offering reusable bag alternatives extends even further than saving money and keeping the planet green.  Personalized totes are also an economical means of advertising.  Hundreds of these bags can be purchased for less than two dollars per unit, including printing of the company’s name.  Retailers can, in turn, sell the bags to its customers at cost.  This type of advertising often pays for itself, and saves the retailer on the cost of purchasing and giving away plastic shopping bags.

It’s important, of course, to choose personalized totes which are considered “green” in order to have a truly positive impact on the environment.  When investing in “green” promotional bags, retailers should consider these points:

* What the bag is made of. Environmentally-conscious retailers should look for materials that are natural.  Cotton bags are one of the best choices of fabrics.  Cotton is all-natural, washable, sturdy and flexible.  Retailers who prefer a heavier material may want to consider canvas.  Canvas is made from cotton, and its special weave makes it ideal for heavy items and more frequent use.

*How the bag is manufactured.  Choose personalized totes that are manufactured using earth-friendly methods.  For instance, natural, un-dyed cotton bags have very low carbon footprints per unit.  Another good rule of thumb for choosing the greenest of promotional bags: less is more.  The fewer adornments and less fancy stitching that a particular bag has, the less of a carbon footprint it leaves.  Bags that are manufactured using harsh methods or strong chemicals should be avoided, since this defeats the purpose of discouraging the use of plastic.

*Whether the bag can be recycled.  Let’s face it: even re-useable promotional bags wear out eventually.  Most will last for years, many for decades.  However, when the inevitable happens, retailers should be able to tell customers how and where they can recycle the personalized totes that they purchase from you.  Customers will be more likely to invest in one (or more) when they know that the bag will have a second life once it wears out.

Some retailers have even taken the bold step of eliminating plastic shopping bags altogether.  They’ve chosen instead to invest in low-cost customized promotional bags, and sell them at cost or just above cost to their customers.  This change has annoyed a small handful of patrons, retailers say, but most customers are understanding and very supportive of these kinds of moves. 

While this kind of a change may be considered radical, many recognize that this may be the norm one day.  In fact, in many countries, particularly in Europe and the U.K., retailers do not routinely offer free plastic shopping bags to their customers.  This is considered acceptable and socially responsible.  Personalized totes are a way of life and part of everyday business for these retailers, and it’s highly plausible that North America will one day follow suit.

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