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.