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Opting Out, Opting In

Opting In

Tokens at the check-out of a Tokyo supermarket – placing one in the basket indicates that the customer does not wish to have plastic bags placed in their basket as they clear the check-out. Opting out can add points to the customer’s reward card.

Opting Out

What if tokens were used as an opt-in to request bags? Given that queuing customers can simply ask the cashier, and is in many cultures part of the check-out ritual – would the supermarket use tokens?

Bearing in mind the cost of bags are typically covered by the supermarket, to what extent would having a token introduce the idea of scarcity – and by doing so ‘legitimise’ the idea of paying money for something that was once ‘free’? What other free (or intangible goods) could this apply to? And when the stack of tokens is depleted, does this imply that the goods are not longer available?

For the supermarket – the cost benefit of maintaining tokens versus the financial, environmental impact, and dealing with requests for bags when the cashier is dealing with the next customer?

Related: Bag design norms in Brazil supermarkets.