For years, retailers have used bags or boxes to make it "convenient" for customers to carry their purchases home. To increasing numbers of environmentally-conscious consumers, however, more packaging means more waste--not more convenience.

In 1994, the retail division of Patagonia, a provider of high-tech outerwear, based in Ventura, Calif., adopted the goal of reducing point-of-sale packaging. This was in response to a growing customer perception that it's the right thing to do for the planet. At Patagonia's retail store in Freeport, Maine, customers who decline additional packaging at checkout become eligible to enter a monthly drawing for four fleece pullovers. Forty percent of its customers decline the packaging.

As a result of the program, the Freeport store buys about 25,000 fewer bags each year. Customers like reducing the resources they use, and they get a chance to win valuable prizes.