If plastic bags were banned or taxed everywhere as they should be, companies may have to come up with more creative Earth Day ideas. But the way things are now, companies can still get eco-cred for aligning themselves with the anti-disposable-bag crowd.

This means that for yet another year, many companies’ Earth Day 2010 “initiatives” are simply about bringing your own. Yes, it’s an important message — just one that I, and I’m guessing many MNN readers, wish was an already-learned and legislated and thus not-so-necessary message.

That’s not to diss the companies that are encouraging customers to adopt greener shopping habits. This Earth Day, a couple of companies are making BYO bagging more attractive to animal lovers with their eco-promotions:

CVS pharmacy has pledged to donate 5 cents to World Wildlife Fund for every GreenBagTag sold. Now, this doesn’t mean CVS will send 5 cents for each bag you decline; the incentive program’s much more complicated than that. Basically, would-be bag-free customers can get a buck in-store credit for every fourth time they decline a plastic bag at a CVS store — but only if they initially buy a 99-cent gadget called GreenBagTag to keep track of their bag-free ways. That initial purchase sends 5 cents to WWF; subsequent bag-free shopping does not. Still, frequent CVS shoppers who invest in a GreenBagTag basically earn a quarter every time they bring their own bag — so the initial investment in the 99-cent gadget can quickly pay for itself.

Buffalo Exchange has pledged to donate to The Humane Society of the United States all proceeds from its dollar sale on April 24 (April 25 in Costa Mesa). This clothing store is already quite green, since the fashions it sells are pre-loved and its Tokens for Bags program lets customers who decline a bag donate 5 cents to a charity of their choice. So take your own bag to find dollar deals on pre-loved fashions — with the happy knowledge that you’re reducing your fashion footprint by buying used while spending only a buck on each item — all of which will go to the Don’t Trash Wildlife campaign of The HSUS, and three HSUS wildlife centers that rescue and rehabilitate wild animals.

Will 2010’s bring your own bag messages finally bring more bag bans and taxes about in 2011, forcing companies to get more creative with next year’s Earth Day promotions? What’s your eco-prediction for the 41st Earth Day?

Also on MNN: Bag fee prompts bag-free shopping in D.C.

BYO bag incentives for animal lovers
CVS pharmacy and Buffalo Exchange entice shoppers to BYO bag by promising to make donations to wildlife-friendly nonprofits.