Target shopping cart filled with purchases in plastic bags

Theresa Carter, a Target shopper, is concerned about the amount of single-use plastic bags the retailer uses for customer purchases. She started an online petition in April 2019 to convince Target to eliminate plastic bags. Earth911 asked her to share her story in a first-person account. Listen to our interview with Theresa on the Sustainability In Your Ear podcast.

Like so many people, my mother and I are deeply concerned about the state of our planet with respect to climate change and plastic pollution. We want our planet to remain a hospitable and beautiful place for people to live for generations to come.

In the past year, my mother and I co-founded Customers Who Care, an independent organization of people working to inspire retailers to stop contributing to plastic pollution and to pursue a green and sustainable future.

Our current focus is to inspire Target to stop handing out over a billion bags a year. We chose Target because we are loyal Target shoppers who want Target to be the sustainability leader it claims to be. Over 310,000 customers have signed our petition on asking Target to eliminate plastic bags from its stores.

Customers Who Care

We’re growing a community of Target customers ready for a change that helps our planet. By making a 2020 commitment to eliminate plastic bags, Target would become the largest traditional retailer in the country to stop giving out plastic bags.

A Greenpeace report released on June 11, 2019, ranked the largest U.S. grocery retailers on their efforts to eliminate single-use plastics. All retailers profiled in the report received failing scores. The report found that across the board, U.S. grocers are failing to address the plastic pollution crisis to which they are core contributors.

Target, based in Minneapolis, ranked eighth on the report, behind ALDI, Kroger, Albertson’s, Trader Joe’s, Sprouts, Walmart, and Hy-Vee. Receiving a low score of 17, Target is clearly not the sustainability leader it claims to be when it comes to plastic pollution. Target’s performance was described in the full report as “dismal” in large part because Target has failed to set any specific, time-bound, single-use plastic reduction targets.

If Target and other U.S. retailers end their unsustainable single-use plastic bag business practice, they would eliminate 100 billion plastic bags, many of which pollute the environment, each year. Less than 1 percent of plastic bags get returned for recycling. Plastic bags are used on average for 12 minutes and end up as microplastics in our earth, our ocean, and even our air.

It is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic by weight in the ocean than fish. Plastic is choking our waterways and killing sea life. We have all seen news of whales washing up on beaches with up to 88 pounds of plastic in their stomachs.

bird on coast covered by discarded plastic bags

Customers Leading the Way

Many stores have already taken the step to end plastic bag use. Each of these retailers has either eliminated or is in the process of eliminating plastic bags:

  • Trader Joe’s
  • Kroger
  • Wegmans
  • Big Y
  • ALDI
  • Costco
  • BJs
  • Sam’s Club

We believe that if Target also takes this step, other retailers, such as Walmart, Albertsons, CVS, and Walgreens will soon follow.

Our petition entitled, Target, Stop Filling the World with Plastic Bags, is referenced in the report because eliminating plastic bags is an opportunity for Target to make an immediate impact on its plastic pollution footprint.

Please join join our petition asking Target to eliminate plastic bags.

By Earth911

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