Saturday, December 09, 2006


So this afternoon, I decided that I needed to go shopping. Which means driving about half an hour to a town that consists solely of stores.

After fighting traffic for at least ten minutes, I made it the quarter-mile between Linens n Things and Staples. After over five minutes of waiting/driving for parking, I was ready to get in the store. As quickly as possible, I gathered the things I need for my teacher life--white out, dry erase markers, and paper. At the display of copy paper, I was shocked to see that regular, Staples brand copy paper is $3.99 a ream! I could swear that I used to buy it for like $2.50. Anyway, so I decided that since I was paying through the nose, I would pay a little extra for recycled paper (five bucks a pack! that's a penny per sheet!). Interestingly, they now sell 30% recycled paper, which 'uses fewer trees,' and 100% recycled paper, which 'uses no new trees.'

In my liberal, West Coast heart, I was like, hey wow, that's neat. I'm always telling my kids that trees are our friends; don't waste paper. And I do my best to avoid excess baggage. I'm talking about the multitude of double-bagged plastic bags that you get everywhere you go. Since I usually carry a teacher tote bag with me, and my purse is big, if I buy a small thing I can just put it in that. When I say, "Oh, I don't need a bag," the cashier usually freezes for a moment and looks stupidly uncomfortable. 'No bag? But I must give out a prescribed ten bajillion bags per day! Who is this weirdo that claims not to need my flimsy-and-therefore-doubled-plastic-bag? Some kind of commie or something?'

Once, at Barnes and Noble, I bought a book. One little book. And I tried to refuse a bag. The cashier stumbled for a moment, but then continued bagging my one book, telling me, "The security officer has to see the bag when you leave." I said, "Oh, I see." And laughingly self-deprecatingly added, "And here I was trying to save the earth!"

You know what she said? "There's a trash can right outside the door; you can just throw it away."

Take a moment and read that again.

Now I was the one stupidly frozen, but decided not to say anything, simply nodding and taking my leave along with the useless plastic.

Anyway, so I was happy and relieved to do my little part to help mother earth, buying ungodly expensive recycled copy paper.

A few hours later, I got home and realized that I left my purchase in the store.

That second roundtrip is probably going to negate the recycled paper, isn't it.


Anonymous said...

If you can't Refuse, perhaps you can Reuse, or Recycle.

Some ideas for those 10 bajillion bags you get every day:
- give to a local humane society or canine rescue or (dog) training school
- give to local food bank
- give to a local church / school / other flea market

I'm sure there are other re-uses instead of just throwing the bags out.

17 more years said...

Or, you can take the bags to work with you-this way, when one of your little cherubs says, "MISSSSSSSS- do you have a bag, my lunch bag broke" you are always prepared.

Ms. H said...

I'm sorry you have to buy those things for yourself in the first place! I always get stressed out on those trips.

NYC Educator said...

Now you know why you're a teacher and that guy makes 6 bucks an hour at Barnes and Noble.

Fred said...

That's why I don't go to the stores any more. The internet doesn't have clerks to worry about.

Lady S said...

I take all my extra grocery bags to school for the nurse. She goes through three or more a day for our school of 180. I also have some in my trunk for grocery shopping, but sometimes I forget them.