Free with your next Nordstrom purchase: a clear conscience. The Seattle-based retailer said Friday it is taking several steps to become...

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Free with your next Nordstrom purchase: a clear conscience.

The Seattle-based retailer said Friday it is taking several steps to become more environmentally friendly.

Next month, Nordstrom stores nationwide will begin handing out shopping bags that are 100 percent recyclable, meaning no more plastic handles. The new bags, which stores will introduce as they run out of the old between April and September, come with cotton handles.

During the 2008 holiday-sales season, Nordstrom also will exchange the silver foil on its gift boxes for a matte silver ink, making them fully recyclable. (And for extra credit, the boxes will consist of paper stock that is 30 percent post-consumer waste, or previously used.)

“We have a concern for the environment, and we’ve heard from our customers that they’re concerned about the environment,” said spokeswoman Pamela Perret. “We hope customers will notice.”

Also, Nordstrom today begins selling reusable shopping totes in its West Coast stores, picking up on a trend most associated with grocery chains.

Stores will sell the brushed-linen totes in their accessories departments for $21.95. They feature an illustration of iconic U.S. landmarks, including the Space Needle, the Empire State Building and the Golden Gate Bridge.

The reusable totes — while environmentally friendly — help Nordstrom’s bottom line by potentially reducing the number of shopping bags stores must give away with each purchase, said Patricia Edwards, a money manager at Wentworth, Hauser & Violich in Seattle, whose firm manages $14.5 billion in assets, including more than 700,000 Nordstrom shares.

“Plus, it’s free advertising,” she said. “What if I take that tote to the gym, grocery store or even Macy’s? Then Nordstrom’s name is everywhere.”

Amy Martinez: 206-464-2923 or amartinez@seattletimes.com