BYOB Week could reveal resident interest in environmental measures

Yesterday, several area markets began Minot’s first Bring Your Own Bag Week, and the participation might be a sign of just how interested shoppers at those stores are in voluntary waste reduction.

Each store will provide customers with free, durable, reusable shopping bags at designated tables for free while supplies last. Customers can use these bags at the regular check out aisles that day and every following shopping trip and receive a five-cent discount off their grocery bills.

Volunteers will be on hand to answer question about use, and reuse of the bags, and signs posted on all doors to the grocery stores will remind customers to bring their reusable bags into the store from the vehicle on future visits.

Participating stores are Cash Wise Foods at Southgate Crossing, Marketplace Foods at 20th Avenue Southwest and Broadway and Marketplace Foods at 21st Avenue, and 16th Street Northwest.

It’s a noble goal to try to cut down on waste, encourage recycling and reduce the eyesore of things such as plastic bags.

However, it becomes less tolerable to many people when it is thrust upon citizens by the act of government – government that often is influenced by organized interests (however well-meaning) than by the full support of the public.

That’s why Bring Your Own Bag Week is a breath of fresh air – it calls upon people to voluntarily make a change in their habits; it doesn’t force them to.

Residents’ mixed reactions to the City of Minot’s recycling plan demonstrated that even some who might agree with the goal, don’t necessarily appreciate the process, or a mandate.

Free and voluntary participation in this week’s initiative is a different matter completely. Will people be more encouraged to take part in it without a mandate? Will those generally opposed to the use of reusable sacks be willing to try it?

It will be interesting to see how many bags are distributed, and even more interesting to learn from market staff later, how many of those bags make repeat visits in the hand of shoppers.

A scientific analysis? No. But an interesting one.

Maybe Minot residents will learn something about themselves.

Bring Your Own Bag Week lasts through Sunday.