Thursday, May 8, 2008

If You Don’t Use Paper Plates, You're A Bad Mom

I must be on an environmental kick today. I saw this commercial a few weeks ago. Went looking for it online, but no luck. So I am officially risking the wrath of YouTube and Georgia-Pacific (manufacturers of Dixie products) by posting this video online.

(I apologize for the low quality clip, I was in a hurry and snapped this video with my still camera. How's that for some old-school video piracy?)

What's the big deal you ask? Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but it isn't it a bit odd that GP would choose to build a marketing campaign around a message that basically boils down to, "Use our disposable products as much as you can, or you're a bad parent?"

In fairness, GP does have a good deal of information about their environmental initiatives on their website, but I'm not the only blogger who finds this marketing strategy to be out of whack.

What do you think?

A Homily on Environmental Economics...The Earth is Doomed

On Sundays, Nate and I take care of the grocery shopping while Lauren and Em attend church. Honestly, I'd rather be at St. Paul's with the girls because I enjoy grocery shopping about as much as mowing grass, which I definitely enjoy less than repeatedly sitting and standing for an hour. Nate on the other hand, would much rather be scoring free cheese slices from the McCaffrey's deli than spending an hour pinned to a pew by yours truly. So, until he becomes a little easier to wrangle, we get to go grocery shopping.

One of the things I like least about grocery shopping is bagging. Back in my native land, all grocery stores have these skilled workers called "baggers" who put your stuff in bags for you. Here in NJ, not so much. Sure some places, like Wegmans, have the cashiers bag groceries during checkout. You would think this payroll saving idea would make the groceries less expensive, but instead it just makes checkout take longer. McCaffrey's is kind of a mix. Sometimes you bag, sometimes the cashier bags, and sometimes, when they're really busy, they have baggers. Authentic teenage, minimum-wage-earning baggers. Since there are always more checkout lanes than baggers, they are trained to go where they are most needed. This is where having a 20 pound Houdini Jr. squirming in your cart becomes an asset. It triggers the bagger emergency response system and I receive bagging privileges.

That's one grocery related hassle solved. However, it's not just the bagging process I dislike, it's the bags themselves. I go back and forth on whether to choose paper or plastic. I like paper because you can put more in them, thus fewer bags to cart around. Montgomery Township also requires you to put your paper recyclables in paper bags so (tongue twister ahead) I need some paper bags to bag my paper. The plastic bags have practical uses as well. I like to roll up paint brushes in them when I'm in the middle of project. They also make good dirty diaper disposal vessels when you're out of those little duck bags. I usually get mostly paper, with a smidgen of plastic here and there, but recently, I decided to go green.

A couple of weeks ago, Nate and I picked up five canvas grocery bags for 99 cents each. They were right there by the checkout. Excellent product placement. These things are fantastic. As big as paper bags, but unbreakable, and they have handles. The designer should get an award. I hear they are good for the earth as well since you can re-use them. Been using my new bags the last couple of Sundays. Loving them and feeling good about doing my part to save the planet.

So, back to this past Sunday. Nate and are in the checkout, using our new eco-friendly bags. A young cashier is ringing us out, a teenager I think (I find it becoming more and more difficult to discern a person's age as I get older). Another teenager (I think) is filling up our shiny new canvas bags. When the bagger finishes, he turns to the cashier and says, "Five bags." The cashier punches something into the register. "Whoa," I say, thinking I was being charged for my bags, "I brought those with me." The cashier then explains that I get a four cent discount for every canvas bag I use. I was saving 20 cents on my $200 grocery bill for bringing my own bags! Giving me an incredulous look, he says, "You didn't know that?" at which point the bagger chimes in with, "Why else would anybody use these things?"

This exchange sparks a debate between the two young stewards of our planet's future. The cashier goes on to provide a list of reasons,other than the aforementioned rebate, to use these bags. His reasons include durability, size, and being easier to carry. All very valid reasons. Then to close his case, he reaches into what must be a lifetime of education about reducing, reusing, and recycling. No doubt that his 21st century upbringing is dotted with fond memories of bygone Earth Day celebrations and Arbor Day plantings. Surely he is about to deliver an impassioned sermon on global warming to his misinformed colleague.

The cashier says, "and of course, it's..."

Here it comes. The inconvenient truth.

"..what's the word?"

C'mon Captain Planet. Give him the gospel.

"..more economical."

The bagger, now enlightened, responds with, "Hmm. More economical. I didn't think of that."


I suppose. But let us pray that's not what he really meant.