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The Downside of Reusable Shopping Bags

Toting a reusable bag on your shopping trips is the environmentally friendly thing to do. But it also seems to affect shopping behavior – in both good and bad ways. On the plus side, a two-year study from researchers at Harvard and at Duke University, found that people who bring their own bags are more likely to buy organically grown fruits and vegetables. But you may also feel so good about your shopping habits and environmental consciousness that you can justify a reward – adding some junk food to your shopping cart. The investigators collected data from shoppers at a single location of a large California grocery chain between May 2005 and March 2007. They compared the same shoppers’ choices when they brought their own bags and when they didn’t. The researchers concluded that their findings might hold a commercial lesson for grocery store managers – marketing organic and sustainably produced foods as treats might especially appeal to this group of shoppers and boost store sales. There’s also a lesson for the rest of us, too – if you brought your own bags, be mindful to stay out of the junk food aisles.