Making the Most of Your Bag Fee

Jul 31, 2018


Family Portraits December 2016-Jennifer-0033

Jennifer Bosma, Harvest Market IGA
Fort Bragg, CA
Giving Back

Department Size: 40,000 SQ FT

Annual Sales: $25m



In 2013, California introduced a 10-cent bag fee for recycled paper bags, reusable plastic bags, and compostable bags. It wasn't something we wanted to collect but try explaining that to customers. So, we decided to engage the community and find a way to give the money back to local charitable organizations. We had custom 10-cent wooden tokens made for the store, and hand one to a shopper every time they purchase and/or bring their own reusable bag. As they walk out of the store, they can deposit their token into one of our boxes, each representing a local charity. At the end of the month we count all the tokens in each box and make a donation. And since we started, we have raised over $250,000 for local charities.

Why it Works

For Our Shoppers

Any rumors or negative feelings about the bag charge stopped immediately. The community likes knowing exactly where their money is going.

It feels good to give back. And our shoppers love knowing that they are playing a role in making our community stronger by supporting the organizations that make a difference.

For Our Store

Making a Difference
Through our donations, we have kept the senior center's Meals on Wheels program running. There's no greater feeling than knowing that you can make a positive impact on the community.

Low Maintenance
Once we got the program started and explained to shoppers what to do with their tokens, the program essentially runs itself. We don't need to pay for any additional advertising or signage.



Order your tokens.
We found a vendor who could make our tokens out of wood with our logo on one side and the 10 cent mark on the other.

Select your charity(s) of choice and make a donation box(es).
We decided to select four local organizations: 
Food bank, senior center, local kids' charity, local PTA groups.

Explain the process to your team.
Our cashiers are responsible for handing out the tokens and explaining the process to any new shoppers, so it's critical that they know how the program works. You are also much less likely to lose tokens if your store team is able to fully explain the process.

Count your tokens and make a donation.
Because we use the same tokens every month, we are able to weigh each box to determine how many tokens are in each. Once we have a final monthly amount, we write out a check to each organization.

Feel good.
We don't do a lot of press ourselves, but each of the organizations we support goes out of their way to publicly thank the store for our contribution.

Pro Tips

Supply of Tokens
Keep a backup supply of tokens because your employees generally won't tell you when you've run out until you've actually run out.



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