My husband handed me a receipt and a nickel as we were walking out of Target Saturday morning. I had handed him a ChicoBag to use while he made our purchases and I handled another task. For bringing his own bag, he was given a nickel. It made a big impression on him. He’s not one to remember to bring a bag with him when he goes shopping on his own, and he didn’t know that some stores give small rebates for each reusable bag you use.

The incident got me wondering. Does giving a few cents back per reusable bag encourage people to bring their own bags to the store? It’s certainly not a deciding factor for me. I’ve been bringing reusable bags to the store for years now, long before any store in my region instituted the incentive.

For those who aren’t completely committed to reusable bags, is the money an impressive enough gesture to get them to use reusable bags more often? My husband was impressed, and I believe the next time I suggest he grab a bag before heading to the store, he might do it.

It wasn't the money that impressed him; it was the gesture. It was recognition that he had done something a little praiseworthy. That nickel was like a gold star on top of a weekly third-grade spelling test. Remember those gold stars? When you got that gold star at the top of the page, you wanted to earn another gold star the following week.

So what do you think? Is the small rebate a useful symbol of a job well-done? Or am I over-thinking a nickel?

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Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

How important is a nickel?
When stores give you a few cents off for bringing your own bag, do you care?