Monday, August 13, 2007

More on Plastic

Tom's recent rant on plastic bags, along with last week's Salon article about how plastic bags are about the worst thing to happen to the environment ever, has inspired me to write my own rant about the little bastards, and despite all the horrible things I do to the environment, this is the one issue that fucking kills me. It kills me because it's so easy to stop doing. According to Salon, Americans throw away 100 billion plastic bags every year, which use 12 million barrels of oil to create. Not the mention the environmental havoc they wreak once they've already been created. And I say it's easy to break this cycle, because not using bags at the grocery store isn't even a sacrifice; it's simply a change of habit. Using cloth bags is so much more sustainable, cheaper, they're more durable, and your conscience is free. At least as far as that's concerned. Though I'll admit I never gave this issue much thought until I started working at a grocery store. The amount of bags used is literally staggering.

People want their milk jugs double-bagged. They want their meat wrapped separately from the rest of their groceries, despite the fact that their meat is already wrapped in paper and sealed in plastic from the meat department. They want a bag for their lettuce they just bought, even though that's all they have, and the lettuce is already in a bag from the produce section. They want their greeting card in a separate bag from their goceries, even though their purse slung over their shoulder is the size of a duffle-bag and probably mostly empty. Or they have to have their apples and their bananas kept separately. When I committed the greivous sin of trying to put some dude's apples in a plastic bag already containing his bananas the other day, he literally said to me, "Oh, God, don't put the apples in the same bag! Those bananas will be so bruised I won't even be able to eat them by the time I get home. Goodness." And he shook his head. (And, by the way, both the bananas and the apples were already wrapped in produce bags.) So I glared at him a moment, took a deep breath, and gave him a separate bag, being extra careful to drop his apples in another bag so they hit the belt harder than they should have. And he didn't make any more eye contact with me the rest of the transaction. I hope I ruined his whole day.

But this is the kind of shit I'm talking about. It's totally neurotic and absurd. And don't even get me started on my latest obsession, which is water bottles. Fuck!! It's never-ending. There was an interesting recent article in the NYT about the environmental devastation bottled water is wreaking.

Again, at work the other day, this lady was buying about 10 six-packs of bottled water (each of them in their own separate plastic bag of course, even though they're totally easy to carry by themselves), and I finally said, "Maybe you should invest in a water filter so you don't have to buy so many bottles." She wasn't too pleased, but whatever. (Yeah, I'm probably gonna get fired soon....) Taken outside of the context of my job, these things bother me, but I don't get so angry about it. I think what sends me over the edge at work is the sheer magnitude of it, the numbers that I see. And that's just in one store!

Like I said, I'm no environmental saint, and I know that. But things like bags (both plastic and paper) have such an easy solution to them. People scream all the time about federal environmental regulations and laws (which are important), but there is so much average citizens can do everyday do to reduce waste. Not using bags at the grocery store is only one tiny step that's not even difficult and doesn't even require any sacrifice (because God knows, Americans don't want to have to sacrifice anything for any reason). Even in all this security, war on terror bullshit, it's astounding to me that so few people address the real gorilla in the room, which is fucking oil! I bet all those nutjobs that are nazis about American security are also the last ones to be willing to give up their huge houses, SUV's, and convenience of plastic bags at the store, and bottled water at the gym. Nobody wants to make those connections.

And along those lines,there's a little interview with John Edwards in Salon today that I really liked, about the environment specifically. I truly don't understand why everybody thinks that guy's such a phony. He seems the least phony to me of the whole bunch. Man, I really like him.


Tom Drew said...

The bottled water article was interesting (as was the interview with Edwards). I simply do not understand the appeal of bottled water. I mean, I've purchased single bottles here and there (maybe ten times in my life), but only out of desperation, and those bottles wind up being refilled with glorious tap water soon after.

And I love that kitty.

Warwick said...

Sun Harvest actually gives you a 5 cent discount for every plastic bag that you don't use when you check out. Whether that be not using a bag at all, or bringing in a canvas bag, or bringing in old plastic bags from other stores, or whatever.