Nearly Half a Million People Want Target to Stop Doing This

Amid a growing conversation on the environmental impacts of the fashion industry, nearly 500,000 consumers are calling on Target to stop using plastic bags in its stores.

A Change.org petition on the topic — addressed to Target CEO Brian Cornell and 11 other company executives — has collected more than 460,000 signatures. The petition’s author, the group Customers Who Care, demands that the Minneapolis-based chain stop “choking the Earth” and take swift action to eliminate plastic bags.

“We understand this won’t be convenient, but it is time to act. For those of us who also shop at Costco or IKEA, we know we can survive without plastic bags,” the petition states.

The group cited the success of tax-based initiatives aimed at ditching plastics and reducing the use of single-use bags, including efforts put forth in Ireland and Australia, as well as in Los Angeles County (where a plastic bag ban with a charge on paper bags has reduced single-bag use by 95%). “If Target provides bags for purchase, we ask it to charge a meaningful amount because this approach works,” said the petition. “Target’s current 5 cent incentive for those bringing bags does not meaningfully curb its plastic bag consumption.”

For its part, Target said it is taking steps to be more environmentally conscious. Company spokeswoman Danielle Schumann said in a statement that the retailer is actively pursuing initiatives to reduce its use of plastic, such as instituting sustainable packaging goals and using plastic bags made from 40% recycled content. The retailer also began installing recycling kiosks, including for plastic bags, at the front of its stores in 2010.

“Target teams across the business are working to eliminate, reduce and find alternatives for plastics in our products, packaging and operations,” Schumann said.

The United States generates more than 4 million tons of plastic bags, sacks and wraps each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Most of that plastic is left to degrade in water and soil, threatening wildlife. Only about 13% of plastic gets recycled.

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