Monday, December 10, 2007

Need-a-Bag? Project Update December

Well, it's been almost two months since we started Need-a-Bag? at the Alachua County Farmers Market. So far the project has gone really well; people are starting to understand what we're trying to do. So, instead of saying, "oh, but I have a million of those at home," when offered a free tote bag for their purchases, they now only say, "no, thank you." That's a big change and definitely a growing opportunity for all of us.

Leaving the bags, signs, and drop box by the fence along the front of the market for people to take as they need them has been a real boon; each weekend we find more missing and occasionally find some in the drop box. There is a rhythm beginning to take shape, I think.

Erika, the citrus woman and one of the farmers market organizers, has fully embraced the mission and goals of the Need-a-Bag? project and has given us her endorsement in a recent email letter, a little of which (the most important part pertaining to us, that is) is reprinted here:

*Protect the environment!* We will continue to provide plastic bags for your produce, but please consider recycling your grocery bags by bringing them to the market for your own personal use. Last year, we distributed over 1000 plastic bags during our citrus season. Tote bags are also a great item to store in the trunk of your car to use as shopping bags.

If you have visited the market recently, you may have been introduced to a new program created by two of our rather fabulous customers! Michele and Susan decided to take it upon themselves to reduce the number of plastic bags utilized by customers of our 441 market. Each Saturday morning from approximately 8:45 to 10, Susan and Michele pass out tote bags they have thrifted (and washed) to the crowd and/or hang available tote bags on the fences outside the market. If you are in need of a tote bag, please take advantage of this program and use one of their bags. If you are so inclined, please return the cleaned tote bag to Susan and Michele at the market the following Saturday.

If you have tote bags at home that you do not use in your everyday shopping, please consider donating to Susan and Michele (contact info in the ad section below). If you cannot locate Susan or Michele at the market, but would still like to donate your totes and/or tank tops (read their blog), you are more than welcome to hand them to us at our booth (#4) between 8:30 and noon. We will ensure the bags arrive at their destination.

The market still hopes to sell its very own tote bags in the future, but this is an excellent program that we hope you will support.
That was so awesome. And Erika and her dad sell some mighty sweet oranges, too, I might add. I was intrigued by her idea that shoppers should return the bags clean the following Saturday. I really hadn't even considered the idea that people take some responsibility in all of this. We'd probably just wash them again, anyway, since we wouldn't know which ones were already laundered. But it's definitely the direction we'd like to take it.
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