The Selfish Hippie says "You've got baggage!"

I write for a humor blog with two friends, James Malins and Cherie Michiko, called Misusing Big Words. This post was originally published here:
http://misusingbigwords.blogspot.com/2008/05/selfish-hippie-says-youve-got-baggage.html

There’s a lot of bad juju going around these days about plastic bags. One article I read even said America was the worst offender in terms of using too many plastic bottles and bags. Those providing comments point out that plastic is a byproduct of oil production. And yet still others disagree with that.

Of course, you all know my thoughts on this by now. I don’t really buy into bad juju without some substantial proof or a good reason. And since we’ve got people arguing over the basic fact of where plastic comes from, it doesn’t look we’ll be getting any good proof anytime soon, so here’s the good reason.

Using more plastic will cost you money. Not in the traditional sense of having to pay for plastic bags (although some ultra-hippie places like the pacific northwest are heading down that road. No, I’m talking opportunity cost. Many grocery stores give anywhere from 3-10 cents back for each bag that you bring in, and often they still come out ahead because they no longer have to pay the costs of supplying those plastic bags. So, if you bought 4 reusable bags (about $1-2 each at the grocery store) and used them each grocery trip (about 4 bags worth of food every week), they’re pretty much paid for within a year, then you start earning money on them. Sure, it’s pennies on the dollar, but those are pennies you didn’t have before. (N.B. Since I don't shop at Ralph's, Albertson's has said they give you 5 cents for each bag used.)

Not convinced? I can see that. But as companies focus more on cutting costs, I wouldn’t be surprised if more stores start charging for plastic bag use, and then the savings will start skyrocketing. In the meantime, go ahead and use plastic bags, but reuse them too. Here’s a few ways to do that.

Personally, I don't do any of those except the small trash can plan. Those plastic grocery bags make a mean trash can liner, and I have such a small can anyway because I barely throw anything away (I reuse everything I possibly can to get my money's worth). They're also good as a carrying case that you don't care about not getting back, such as when you’re bringing a six-pack to the Saturday night festivities. Because let’s be honest: three hours and three sheets to the wind later, you’re not going to remember to take your bag with you when you go home.

I forget things all over the place. That’s one of the reasons I don't allow myself to buy fancy sunglasses or have children. I've definitely lost a few duffel bags and backpacks in my life. Plastic bags are perfect because I don't care if I forget them.

And don’t even get me starting on buying bottled water. If you live in America, quit being a damn pansy and drink the tap. It’s safe, I promise. I can’t vouch for any other countries, though all the ones I’ve been to except Mexico I’ve drank the tap with no problems.

So, maybe plastic isn’t as bad as some of the bad juju says it is. I tend to agree with George Carlin (video below) in that since plastic came from the Earth, it probably thinks of plastic as one of its children. Nevertheless, the best reason not to use it is a good reason for doing most things: to save money.

And as we all know, that’s what the selfish hippie is all about: Saving Money While Saving the World.


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