Tag Archive - Environment

Healthy discounts

In my last post I mentioned a brief personal experience with how businesses can be irresponsible as far as the health of our world (called environment). Just a few days after this experience I had another one, this time positive. I’d like to talk about it here as an example of how businesses can encourage their customers to make better, or cleaner shopping-style choices.

I was shopping at Vitamin World, now my favorite supplements store. They offer a member’s discount for 2 days every month, it’s free to become a member, and you get 50% off, which is a great deal (well, I wish I was paid for this advertisement now, but in case you are wondering, I am not!). I became a fan of natural healing, supplements and especially herbs. I might have inherited this passion from my mother, who is the family herb specialist, however I only realized my passion for this field in recent years. Anyway, while doing my shopping for herbs that I know, and some others that I wanted to experiment with, I found this nice offer, and I immediately grabbed it. It’s the store cloth shopping bag, which you can now find in many stores as an alternative for the monstrous plastic bags. However in Vitamin World they did something different to promote the usage of this bag, a $1 off your purchase every time you use the bag. That’s what I am talking about!

One dollar off is no big deal. But it can be an incentive for people to get it, since they will be saving on the long term. People already look for $1 off, or less, coupons, so purchasing a bag for $3 and saving $1 for the life of the bag is a good deal. I particularly wish that grocery stores would go for the same promotion. People go grocery shopping at least twice a month, if not more, and you can imagine how much of the plastic bags usage grocery shopping account for. Again, if I was a ruler, I’d probably start by forcing grocery stores to do just that. Well, I guess I might be lying here. I think I will force them to eliminate plastic bags altogether. People adapt, and they always use and live with what they have available. It’s doing them, and their children, a great good by forcing them not to hurt… the air they are breathing, and much more!

I loved it, but hated it!

Yesterday I had lunch at Taco Bell with my dear niece, who is visiting from Egypt and staying with me for a few months. I decided to go for a new meal that looks beautiful in the big and colorful picture. My niece didn’t really know what to chose, so she ordered the same. I waited for a few minutes, then saw a tray with two huge platters on the counter, with my order number on it.

The first thing that caught my attention, and actually shocked me, was how the meals were served. We took them “for here”, so we didn’t need to have them wrapped up. However, the meal was served in a big plastic platter, and, even worse and even more frightening, it had this HUGE, still plastic, cover. The cover looked nice, but I was just unable to understand why use it when it will be discarded right away. I thought that all it serves is to look nice for a few seconds, and it lasts only until we go to our table, take it off and eat the meal. Then, you know: throw it in the trash :( What an incredible and meaningless waste! Imagine how many of those are served every day all over the country, they will add up and make a nice hill of plastic covers, made only to last for a few seconds, then be discarded!

To say the least, that’s irresponsible. But it’s not only Taco Bell, fast food places insanely add tons of plastic, one-use containers to our trash. You know, when trash goes out of our sight, and we have a clean apartment or restaurant with a new and empty trash bag, it doesn’t mean that all we have just discarded is eternally out of sight. No dear, it’s going somewhere else, and it’s going to accumulate there. It’s adding to millions and millions of tons of disposable material that we use for one time then kill the earth with it. Sometimes I imagine when our grand-children, or, hopefully, our children read about these past (for them) practices, they will look at us and say that they are really unable to understand how stupid and irresponsible our civilization had been!

Now, if I was a ruler, I’d start by regulating all those fast food places. It might be difficult to start by individuals and change their lives and practices. But businesses make money, and we can ask them to implement some new procedures. They also contribute a great deal to the problem. I’d simply force them to eliminate unnecessary packaging, add recycling to their facilities and actually recycle all that can be recycled. When talking of packaging, all manufacturers must also be forced to stop using stupidly big and useless packaging. If they are not forced, by law, to do it, most businesses will never do it. It’s as simple as that. However, the consequences are not simple or small. I am looking forward for a time when hurting our environment will be seen and treated for what it is, as a crime.

Gimme a better earth!

I live in Ithaca, and my favorite coffee is not found at the nationwide Starbucks, but I go get it from the local and nice Gimme! coffee. Gimme is really an example of success for me, it has the spirit of localism, yet the brand has the image and quality of the big chains. Anyway, I don’t want to talk about coffee, but I want to mention another thing that I like about this place.

You know when you go into one of those fast food places, and you want to get some ketchup, or even some black pepper, how about some salt?! What do you do? You find those little packs, you open it and it will give you very little of any of the spice that you want. What is that? It is the CIVILIZATION OF DISPOSABLE. We live in the world of disposable today. Plastic plates, plastic utensils, plastic cups…. Can we really count how many plastic/disposables we use every day. We just don’t see the rest of the picture. We use them, then throw ‘em. Looks easy. Well, but it is not easy on our earth. It’s suffering, it’s been suffering for years, and we just add tons and tons of suffering to her lungs every day, 360 days a year.

With that in mind, we can now appreciate Gimme coffee stores when we go there, and find a little jar (or whatever it is called!!) with “clean spoons”, and another for “dirty spoons”. This is what they make available for customers to stir their drinks instead of a disposable piece of wood or piece of plastic! Does that sound primitive to anyone? Well, I see this little practice as highly civilised. The Civilization of Disposable is meant to fall, sooner or later, because it is working against Nature itself. When Man and Nature combat, the latter wins. And usually it is not a pretty war. Too many victims will fall, from both sides. What all conscious people should do is work for a new civilization, The Civilization of No-Waste. Or we might find a better name for it. What matters is that this new civilization will be “truly” smart and truly scientific, both in theory and in action. A civilization that knows a lot of scientific facts but acts in the best way to misuse or not use those facts at all is just tooooo stupid to survive!

The Bright Side of Spam!

I have no doubt that every email user now suffers from spam – unless there are new solutions that didn’t come to my knowledge yet. You open your email inbox, or download your messages, and here you spend a few good minutes just deleting messages. Well, you might also get a little irritated when you see that you have to delete the SAME useless ads every day! And now the worse side, spammers aren’t usually like those good advertisers who will put a small link at the very end of their email ad and give you the option to “opt out”, and never have to delete their messages again. The most common solution so far is junk folders, but you still will have to spend some of your valuable time online there, because you never know, sometimes messages you do want to read get caught in this folder.

So as we see, email spam is a problem. It wastes our time. However it does have a good side to it. We lose time anyway, and at the end, we only lose minutes deleting spam emails, not hours (thanks God!). Now we are all familiar with a much worse sort of spam, which is useless paper ads and brochures that we receive in the mail. It’s amazing how much paper we just shred or throw in the trash every day or every week here in the US. In my country, Egypt, we don’t have this problem, so here is one more bright side for something not so bright: developing countries are very modest contributors to the destruction of our earth, and therefore our health, compared to the first world countries.

Waste is a serious problem. Email spam wastes a few minutes every day. Paper spam wastes millions of trees every year. Don’t you wish with me that all paper spam just go to our email inboxes?

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