Thursday, April 21, 2011

Plastic-wrapped feet

It always warms my heart when I see people making use of reusable mugs and containers, and I'm also grateful when stores promote their use.  Those who have followed us for a while, or who know me personally, may know that I've had my share of arguments with some Starbuck's franchises about reusable mugs.  While that's a discussion worthy of its own rant blog, suffice it to say that I take issue when an establishment refuses to fill your reusable mug, but will happily sell you a new one of their own.

Speaking of Starbuck's, I was in New York City this past weekend for the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society awards and presentations, and on my way back home, I noticed a lovely display of mugs at Starbuck's as I passed through Terminal 3 at the JFK airport yesterday.

Wall of mugs at JFK
Photo ©2011 Christopher Chin
"shrink your footprint"?
photo ©2011 Christopher Chin

When I was younger, my Crayola 64 box of crayons featured colors like burnt sienna and marigold.  Future versions of this iconic boxed palette may likely include something along the lines of "eco-green", so that young would-be designers would know what colors go best with a campaign intended to give the impression of environmental awareness.

I glanced towards the counter, a mere three feet from the wall of
plastic-wrapped toothpicks at restaurant in Las Vegas
Photo ©2010 Christopher Chin
mugs offering to "shrink your footprint", and I saw something I'd never before even imagined.  I was bewildered and looked more closely as I tried to comprehend the hypocrisy before me.

While I'll happily complain about plastic-wrapped straws, plastic-wrapped plastic utensils, or even individually wrapped toothpicks, I never thought I'd see apples choking beneath a layer of plastic film.

Starbuck's counter at JFK Terminal 3
Photo ©2011 Christopher Chin
As I stood in disbelief and wavered between stupefaction and anger, I wondered whose bright idea this was.  There was something inherently asinine about that, and I couldn't quite put my finger on it at first.  Eventually, I decided that it is because apples naturally have a resilient and washable skin.  Wrapping an apple in plastic wrap is just wasteful and silly.  It's akin to purchasing a reusable bag like the ChicoBag, and having the checkout clerk try to put it into a single-use plastic bag.  "Um... excuse me... I don't think I need a bag for my bag.  Thanks."

My best guess is that this Starbuck's somehow thinks that the apples may appear cleaner or more sanitary if they are wrapped in plastic.  I'm not sure about you, but I'm guessing that most people will probably still wash the apple after they unwrapped it.  They would probably at least take a napkin to it, or rub it on their shirt or pant leg.  Either of which is what most people do with apples that are not [gasp] wrapped in plastic.

If you buy one of those apples, I dare you to just unwrap it and eat it.  I'll bet that every intuition in your body will urge you to wash it before you sink your teeth into it.

plastic-wrapped apples
Photo ©2011 Christopher Chin
Better yet, just believe me and DON'T buy that stupid plastic-wrapped apple.  If someone is keeping track (as they probably are), then buying one of those things will validate their idiocy.  Vote with your wallet, send a message, and don't buy that plastic-wrapped apple.  If we exercise our choices this way, they'll see that the excessive waste actually causes a reduction sales.

But it's not just plastic-wrapped apples you need to keep an eye out for; we should be expressing our choices every time we purchase something.  If you have a choice between a simply presented item and a similar item which is overpackaged, we hope you'll send the right message by choosing to avoid the latter.

As for the Starbuck's at JFK, I just thought of another reason for the plastic wrap.... Perhaps they thought we could reduce our "footprint" by wrapping our feet in plastic.


  1. This is Bananas!

    Thought you might like to look at this.

    Del Monte packaging


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