Friday, April 11, 2008

We Are Doomed - Case No. 738


Something that has bothered me for quite some time is New Yorkers' addiction to bags. Paper, plastic - we love our sacks in this here city. 

Go to any deli and buy whatever - bleach, cookies, an air freshener - and they will cram it into a bag. If you buy foodstuffs, they'll cram them into a bag and give you a stack of napkins that could service a family of four for up to two weeks. And on top of that - in more cases than you would think, the clerks will double-bag - yes, I said double-bag - for absolutely no reason at all. If you buy a Bic lighter, some asshole will try to put it in two plastic bags if you're not careful. 

Why? What's the significance? I don't know. What I do know is that it's a stupid and wasteful act that must be shunned, and actively so, if we're to make any progress as a society.

Soda, bottled water, orange juice, that ludicrous Vitamin Water bullshit, all of those foul, syrupy "Iced Tea" concoctions that are favorable with buffoons - they're already in containers. If a bottle or container of liquid is all you're purchasing, you DO NOT need a bag! You just don't. Why put a sealed container into a container? You've got hands. Carry the god damn bottle. 

It is an unfortunate fact, however, that most people request bags for their bottles, and generally get the aforementioned stack of napkins along with them. How long does the normal bodega patron use the bag in which his or her bottle or container of beverage was placed? Generally the time it takes for them to get from the checkout counter to the outside of the store, at which point they open the bottled liquid and discard the bag. 

And we now have one more god damn plastic bag littering the planet, all because some dumb dipshit didn't make the extra effort to say, "No thank you, I don't need a bag."

I have been making an effort to be a nicer person. After seeing my mother in action when she visited recently - insulting every single living being for some reason or another as they walked by, just trying to get through their day - I realized that if I didn't temper my need to sling invective at unsuspecting strangers for any number of offenses from their clownish hip hop clothing to their BMI and its associated effect on my eyes, I would end up a cranky old bastard with whom no one wanted to associate. That is not necessarily what I want for myself, so I'm trying really hard - REALLY, REALLY HARD - to be nicer, at least outwardly.

It's not working very well. 

This morning, I witnessed a teenaged girl coming out of a grocer's on Dekalb Avenue with a paper bag, the contents of which she had clearly just purchased. She proceeded to take a container of apple juice out of the bag and toss the used sack into the garbage. That bag was used for a total of three seconds. Counter to doorway. And this was a teenager - a member of the generation that is supposed to be taking recycling for granted. 

I was compelled to grab her and tell her that her lowrider jeans made her look like a slut and that no girl on her way to high school should be dressed in such a suggestive manner. Oh, and to lecture her about waste and how if she didn't shape up her act she was going to be raising her babies in a land of desolation and horror, devoid of the beauty we seem to think is going to stay around despite our biggest efforts to the contrary. 

I also felt the need to take that bag out of the garbage and recycle it. But I can't take on that level of responsibility. If I started, I would never stop. And I would go insane. Paper is wasted in this city in such ludicrous and vast amounts that it is staggering. 

And plastic - well, those plastic bags are everywhere, and they'll never go away. The trees here are a testament to the disgrace that comes from improper disposal of plastic bags. Look up when you're walking sometime and you'll see what I mean.

So this is my mantra for the day - Choose Your Sacks With Care. Repeat it until it is emblazened in your brain. 

Saving a sack today will save a tree tomorrow. 

1 comment:

uuaq said...

I can't deal with it either, because despite my own continuing efforts to decline grocer's bags, I also get my junk crammed in them anyway. My lips say 'no no,' but I get slid a plastic bag--and that goddamn fistful of napkins--every time. Sometimes the cashier hears me say I want no bag (what is with the practice of putting coffee in a paper bag?), but none the less absentmindedly slaps a teetering stack of napkins on the lid of my hermetically-sealed beverage. When this happens, I take pause, carefully removing my items from the bag before I depart from the cashier's counter. Trouble is, it usually happens during any one of those periodic afternoon "rushes" when there's a queue trailing off behind me. The cashier didn't hear me ask for no napkins. She didn't hear me ask for no bag. She was too busy being 'overwhelmed' by all the harried assholes impatiently elbowing me out of their way to make off with their own, what's the word... comestibles.

I'm this close to getting my own shopping bags fabricated. I've begun brewing my own coffee at work, on a stove, because I HATE having to throw away a cardboard cup and (recyclable) plastic lid every single day. I think it'll save me money and time. After all, it takes just as long to pour hot water over grounds and wait 3 minutes for it to seep through, as it does to put on a coat and meander to my favorite delicatessen and back again. Plus, I can rinse my cup afterwards. That, and the coffee's always as fresh as it is potent.