IKEA has started charging five cents for every bag you use when you check out. I stopped by this morning to get some of my favorite Swedish food and was delighted to see this new policy. Some Americans may not be so pleased, but I’ve long wondered why we haven’t followed the example of the majority of European stores in this way.

I carry cloth bags in my car and use them for shopping as much as possible; and if I forget I try to go without (I’m certainly not perfect about this, but getting better all the time). In most grocery stores I’ll receive a five-cent refund for each bag that I bring with me. This makes for a nice incentive (if you know about it) but in most European markets, you are expected to bring your own bag, and you’ll be charged a small fee if you need to use the store’s paper or plastic.

It’s subtle, the difference between a refund and a fee, but nothing wakes up an American like money. Hopefully, stores that make this switch will wake us up to our ability to make a simple choice every day that results in much less waste in our landfills. I think it’s neat that IKEA would make such a decision even though it may not benefit the “bottom line”.

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