I'm proposing that oil companies band together (or individually, doesn't matter) and make and distribute millions and millions of reusable cloth grocery bags throughout the United States. I'm suggesting an effort wide enough to provide Americans with enough free bags to replace the great majority of reusable bags over time. It would be a huge number.
This would have several possible effects:
1. Repurposing of oil used to make plastic bags. Approximately 12 million barrels of oil per year are used to make the plastic bags. This is a drop in the bucket and would have minimal effect on gas prices (we burn through 20 million barrels per DAY in the USA), but with oil as expensive as it is, every little bit counts.
2. Reduction in the number of trees cut down for paper bags.
3. Good publicity and advertising.
Negatives: It's a money loser. You'd be basically asking the oil companies to spend money in order to lose a revenue stream. It's a question of whether the positive publicity and free advertising would offset this.