As a small but growing number of towns in New Jersey ban single-use plastic and paper bags at the checkout counters, supermarket chains and retailers are on board with getting the state to ban the bags everywhere.

In the meantime, the New Jersey Food Council, the trade organization that represents food stores, is trying to encourage customers to get in the habit of utilizing reusable bags.

The Choose to Reuse campaign will hand out and promote the reusable bags. Customers may also hear public service announcements at stores reminding people to use these bags.

"Our business group is at the forefront at addressing the problem and promoting a positive solution to the plastic bag issue that is before us," said Linda Doherty, president and CEO of the New Jersey Food Council.

"When you look at the supermarket community, we are the anchor of almost every New Jersey neighborhood. So our grocery members, the food retailers, care about the environment and sustainability. Our approach takes an important industry issue head on."

Doherty said residents should keep the reusable bags in their cars at all times so they will never forget to use them when they go shopping.

She also suggested it would be a good idea for New Jerseyans to ask their state legislators to support a statewide ban on both paper and plastic bags to protect the environment.

A Monmouth University poll released this month shows 65% of New Jersey residents support a statewide plastic bag policy.

There are about 60 towns in New Jersey that have either enacted or proposed different plastic bag policies. Surrounding states like New York, Connecticut, Delaware and Massachusetts already have laws in place.

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