Green Spotlight - Once Upon A Child goes plastic bag free
Plastic bags have permeated the environment - You can find them in local streams, hung up in trees and even strung along the roadway. Although cheap and readily available, the reality of any single-use plastic is that it doesn’t instantly disappear once it has served its use. At the beginning of this year, local children’s store Once Upon a Child started a plastic bag free initiative to help reduce unnecessary plastic waste in its stores. Environmental Services reached out to local franchise owner, Babette Schlum, to get a better idea of how this effort has affected both her business and the surrounding community.
“I would love to tell you that the decision was solely based on a love of the environment, but it was a financial decision,” said Schlum.“With the cost of everything going up, the cost of freight is insane right now. We have everything shipped to us and bags are heavy. It was costing almost as much to ship them here as it was to purchase them.”
The transition to a plastic bag free business didn’t happen overnight. To start the conversation, Once Upon A Child staff discussed the idea with current customers for several months. To encourage customers to embrace the transition, Once Upon a Child integrated bagless events into their schedule – an effort that has been met with community support.
“Last September we did a bagless event and everything you could carry you got 30% off. That was really what kickstarted it. We were like ‘hey, we’re doing this bagless event.’ And then it was ‘by the way, were probably going to eliminate bags.’”
For those who are looking for a way to support the plastic bag free initiative, Once Upon a Child offers reusable tote bags for purchase. Totes can be purchased in store for $4.50, and are even offered for free at some of their events.
“We have been having tote sales to try and encourage people,” says Schlum. “We had a sale a few weeks ago where we gave you the tote for free and anything you could put into it you got for $12. That’s kind of a fun way to encourage customers to come in and get our tote.”
When asked how this transition has affected their business, Schlum stated that things haven’t really changed around Once Upon a Child.
“The cornerstone of what we do here is sustainability. As these younger generations are becoming parents, they're more aware of not wanting to use fast fashion, not wanting to use as many plastics and things like that. I tell my employees all the time that we’re not just a store, we provide an important service for our community.We need to not lose track of that, and anytime I can save the store money - by not having plastic bags - I'm saving my customers money because I don’t have to raise prices. And that allows me to continue to carry on and provide this service for our community, and I think that’s what's really important.”
To any business thinking about adopting plastic-free initiatives, Schlum has one piece of advice, “Now is the Time.”
“If you can, do it. It's one less thing for my employees to worry about. It's something good that I know were doing for the environment. It saves on the bottom line, which is what most business owners are probably going to care about, and because so many consumers are environmentally aware or conscious, they don’t mind it. The bottom line is if you can, you should - there's no reason not to. So many people are already using reusable bags or are open to it. Now is probably the time, we’ve seen no negative impacts. Our customers have been really open to it.”
Efforts like those made by Once Upon a Child illustrate the ability of local businesses to lead by example and set a precedent within the community that being environmentally conscious is a priority for Springfield consumers. The capability of businesses to succeed in plastic-free initiatives depends upon the support of consumers and the surrounding community.
Once Upon a Child is a children’s clothing store located at 1421 S Glenstone Ave in Springfield, Mo. They are open daily from 9am-8pm, 12-6pm on Sundays, and can be reached at (417) 886–1853.
Environmental Services Department
209 E. Central St., Springfield, MO 65802