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Minnesota mom's petition against Target plastic bags gets 450,000 signatures

This week, Theresa Carter will arrive at Target's Minneapolis headquarters with hundreds of thousands of signatures.

This week, Theresa Carter will arrive at Target's Minneapolis headquarters with hundreds of thousands of signatures. David Denny

Theresa Carter is a self-described "Minnesota mom" and “loyal Target customer.”

She probably shops there more than anywhere else. A year ago, Carter created Change.org petition asking her favorite store to make a major change: Ditch plastic bags, or at least charge a “meaningful amount” to use them.

Starting in a little more than a week, customers in Minneapolis will be paying extra, anyway: A 5-cent-per-bag fee passed by the City Council last month takes effect on New Year's Day.

Carter says our environment is already drowning in plastic. It’s in our soil, our rivers, our rain. It’s been found in Great Lakes tap water—and the beer brewed from it. And every year, millions of tons of the stuff wind up in the ocean. (Paper bags, which have a higher carbon footprint than plastic, aren’t much better for the planet.)

“We want Target to act swiftly,” Carter wrote. “Target’s plastic bags are choking the Earth.”

The Change.org posting now has nearly 457,000 signatures, making it the most popular environmental petition on the whole site. Though it's Carter's first foray into activism, she's both ambitious and matter-of-fact about her goal. She wants results.

“I have big dreams, so I hoped it would be successful,” she says. “I’m new to this, but I’m definitely passionate.”

On Thursday, Carter will be taking thousands of pages’ worth of signatures directly to Target headquarters in Minneapolis, where she says a company representative has agreed to receive them. She and the company have been in regular communication about the petition. (Target didn’t respond to interview requests.)

Carter knows saving the environment from consumer habits is a monumental challenge. She knows how easy it is to give in to despair. At least for her, "taking action" is the best way to deal with those feelings.

“It’s helpful on the soul to do something about it,” she says.

Target wouldn't be the first supermarket chain to cut plastic. Or the second: Both Kroger and Trader Joe’s have pledged they'll stop handing out bags, and eight states, including California and New York, have already banned their use outright.