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A grocery store’s plan to shame shoppers for using plastic bags completely backfired
Vancouver’s East West Market printed embarrassing slogans on its plastic bags so customer’s wouldn’t want them. The idea was to shame shoppers for using plastic bags and convert them to eco-friendly, reusable bags. Instead, people flocked to the grocery store, paying the five-cent plastic bag penalty just to get their hands on the unique designs.
By: Bianca Bharti
Shaming your customers will certainly deter them from frequenting your business, right? Well, for a Vancouver grocery store, that couldn’t be more wrong.
East West Market owner David Kwen implemented a colourful way of encouraging his shoppers to bring their own reusable bags. For customers who forgot them, their groceries were packed in head-turning plastic bags that read “Wart Ointment Wholesale,” “Into the Weird Adult Video Emporium” or “The Colon Care Co-Op.”
The idea was to shame shoppers for using plastic bags and convert them to eco-friendly, reusable bags. Instead, people flocked to the grocery store, paying the five-cent plastic bag penalty just to get their hands on the unique designs.
Kwen clearly didn’t expect his eco-effort to backfire like that.
The bags were meant to be a deterrent, but Kwen wasn’t crushed by his attempts to make his customers more green.
“The underlying thing is that it creates conversation and that’s what we actually wanted to get across to the general public,” he told NPR.
Now, in an effort to meet customer demand while also being environmentally conscious, Kwen will print the slogans on canvas tote bags so shoppers can reuse them.
The plastic bags have become so popular, some out-of-city fans have even been asking whether the owner will make the canvas ones available to purchase online.
One user commented “Global delivery to (Australia) please!” Another on the east coast said she’d love to order some.
Vancouver doesn’t have an all-out plastic bag ban in the city and charges customers five cents per bag. Victoria, in an effort to phase out plastic bags, charges 25 cents per plastic bag.