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Rosa Rafael helps a customer Thursday at Yokosuka Naval Base’s commissary in Japan, where double-bagging is done only by request.
Rosa Rafael helps a customer Thursday at Yokosuka Naval Base’s commissary in Japan, where double-bagging is done only by request. (Allison Batdorff / S&S)

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — No more automatic double bagging for form’s sake: Your local commissary is stuffing the practice.

If you want two bags to swaddle your salmon steak, you must ask for them.

The Defense Commissary Agency announced this week that commissaries worldwide must eliminate double bagging unless a customer requests it. Skyrocketing oil prices caused plastic bag costs to jump 10 percent in the last few months, officials said.

“Our commissaries will have to put forth a renewed effort to control costs so they do not have to cut services,” Scott Simpson, DECA chief operating officer, was quoted in a news release as saying. “We want to see double bagging and the use of plastic bags in stateside commissaries drop as much as absolutely possible.”

Every bag counts as commissaries conduct almost 100 million customer transactions annually, he said.

Stateside commissaries already have switched to paper bags except in the express lane or when customers specifically request plastic. But paper’s weight makes it unaffordable to ship for overseas commissary use, said DECA spokeswoman Bonnie Powell.

“Plastic overseas is still cheaper because those bags are so much lighter than paper,” she said. “Shipping is the factor there.”

DECA implemented the switch in January and started a “Say ‘No’ to Plastic” campaign overseas, but it still wants to do better, Powell said.

This doesn’t mean your bananas should bite the dust if they tear through a bag. In fact, double bagging is a downright necessity in some situations.

That’s especially true in the Pacific, said DECA West spokeswoman Nancy O’Dell, where “we more frequently find shoppers walking, riding the bus or taking a taxi to and from the commissary. In these circumstances, if the groceries are heavy, double plastic bags are used to keep the groceries secure until the shopper reaches their destination. But again, if the double bagging is not necessary, we ask our customers to say ‘no’ to double bags.”

So far, customers find it a pretty reasonable request, said Totolua Ripley Jr., Yokosuka’s commissary store director.

“The customers understand what is going on,” Ripley said. “We’ve been doing this for a while. This is more of an educational reminder.”

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