Larchmont, N.Y.-based D'Agostino Supermarkets is doing what president Nick D'Agostino III calls “the right thing environmentally” by giving customers an opportunity to buy canvas grocery bags instead of using paper and plastic.
Now, the 18-unit chain has elevated this environmental sensitivity to an art form: The design of the new cloth bag will be chosen by customers in a competition among students attending New York-based design schools.
D'Ag was scheduled to announce the winning entry on Earth Day. The new bag is square with a flat bottom and is suitable to carrying home up to 15 pounds of groceries per bag.
“We think the bag can be used hundreds of times, and that's the key point: It's reusable,” said D'Agostino. The retail price for the new bags will be four for $5.
The contest judges included D'Agostino; Casey Gillespie, editor-in-chief, Zink magazine; Lee Tracy, artist and founder, Certaintees, the environmentally responsible T-shirt company; and Pat Swain, artist, photographer and art instructor.
Anderson Chung, the grocery chain's director of marketing, and Dave Beach of AdLife Marketing viewed each design and selected four finalists based on originality and on the use of the “green” theme and the D'Agostino logo.
Consumers for the past two months have been casting their votes by going to www.dagnyc.com  and voting for their favorite design.
“By honoring our students and our environment, we're giving something back to our community,” said D'Agostino.
The four finalists were: Akshar Patel of the New York Institute of Technology; Katrina Ligot of Pratt Institute; Sean Beyer of Nassau Community College; and Kar Kay Ho of the Fashion Institute of Technology. First prize is a $1,000 scholarship plus a $500 D'Agostino gift certificate.