Hannaford surpasses $1M in donations from reusable shopping bag sales 

  • Hannaford reusable bag.

Athol Daily News
Published: 11/17/2019 9:50:11 PM
Modified: 11/17/2019 9:50:09 PM

SCARBOROUGH, Maine — The Hannaford Helps Reusable Bag Program crossed a major milestone last month when it surpassed $1 million in total donations. More than $80,000 was donated to community organizations in Massachusetts.

The familiar Hannaford Helps Fight Hunger and Hannaford Helps Community reusable shopping bags have been sold for $2.50 for several years. From each sale, $1 is donated to either hunger relief agencies or community organizations chosen by store employees, including school PTAs, local Little Leagues, and veteran support organizations. For hunger relief programs, each $1 donation is equal to 10 meals.

Staunch Supporter

Athol’s Hattie Nestel has staunchly supported the use of reusable bags for many years, and for a period of time was a friendly fixture near the entrance to the local Hannaford store, located at 150 New Athol Road, bringing attention to the value of the bags. 

Nestel said, “It’s a breath of fresh air to see those initiatives they took to make our project work to the maximum potential. I would still say there is no excuse for someone to go in without their bag. They have to train themselves. It’s beyond the time for forgetting the bag.” She noted the colorful visual reminders asking “Did you remember your reusable bags?” posted in the parking lot and near the entrance of the store.

“They went the extra 10 yards in supporting that,” said Nestle, “Very, very supportive.”

Nestel has mentioned frequently on AOTV programs how the community would benefit from Hannaford pushing the reusable bags. “People have to think more seriously about the fact that this is one little step to stop the environmental degradation of plastic in the ocean and plastic in the rivers,” said Nestel.

Nestel said it seems like there is a huge percentage of people using reusable bags. “Some people have integrated this in their daily lives,” she said. “Nobody gets a clean pass to forget. It’s not OK.”

Nestel said one thing she disagrees with is that if a shopper does not have a reusable bag at the register (standard reusable bags are priced at .50 cents and up each, depending on the bag), Hannaford will provide a paper bag. 

“Use of paper bags is not necessary. Any time. Anywhere.” said Nestel, “Hopefully the entire state will go plastic-bags free and single use plastic water bottles-free. All of these initiatives are needed to save the future of our children and grandchildren.”

Nestel gave thanks to State Rep. Susannah Whipps, Senator Anne Gobi and Sen. Jo Comerford and said, “I hope they work for a statewide initiative banning single use water bottles and paper bags. It takes energy to make those things, and they are disposable.” She also extended thanks to Heidi Stickland and Pat Roix, noting, “They took two initiatives and presented them at town meeting. It (single use plastic bag ban) was passed overwhelmingly in Athol. It was fully supported.”

A Good Start

Heidi Strickland and Pat Roix were the originators of the town meeting article banning single-use plastic bags, which was overwhelmingly approved by voters Stickland said, “I am aware of the program at Hannaford and think highly of it. Being on the board of the Athol Bird and Nature Club I know that we have benefited from their generous contributions. I think passing the plastic bag ban was/is a good start but I think it is only a small step in helping our environment.”

Strickland said Athol also voted in favor of a styrofoam ban, which will become effective Jan. 1, 2020. “There are so many other ways that we could make a difference,” she said, “We need to ban water bottles and straws. My primary focus is to make changes in our community. It feels manageable and hopeful.”

Stickland is organizer of the Green Clean Athol task force which she calls “our loosely organized group.” Spring and fall cleanups were organized by the group this year and volunteers stepped up to the plate, helping fill bags with roadside rubbish.

Besides cleaning up Athol streets, the group is beginning to work with local schools to help them be as green as possible. “We also plan to work on recycling,” said Strickland, “We want to educate people, to help them see the value of recycling.

Strickland said the group wants the town to start making recycling more accessible. “Especially for apartment dwellers who have no system in place to make recycling happen,” she said. “I find that our town manager is very supportive and receptive to our goals.” Stickland may be reached at greencleanathol@gmail.com.

Hannaford Helps

The Hannaford Helps Reusable Bag Program, the first-of-its-kind initiative was created in partnership with PS It Matters, a Portsmouth, New Hampshire-based organization that helps administer the program. Since its inception in 2014, nearly 1.7 million bags benefiting over 4,500 non-profits have been sold at Hannaford Supermarkets. The stores have found that customers are willing to pay more to support their communities, while at the same time making an environmentally conscious shopping choice — the reusable shopping bags have saved the equivalent of 13.5 million paper/plastic bags.

During this time, $80,908 in donations from reusable bag sales has been donated to community organizations in Massachusetts.

“Our reusable bag program helps make a difference in the lives of all of our customers,” said Hannaford Supermarkets Waltham Store Manager Matt Dion. “It’s a great feeling when a customer asks me where they can buy one of the bags that supports a specific local non-profit organization. Offering a reusable bag that when purchased makes a donation to the community is a no-brainer.”   

There was no response to a request for a list of the local groups that benefited from the “Hannaford Helps...” reusable bag sales program, from Hannaford headquarters in Scarborough, ME prior to press time.

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