Sunday, May 24, 2009

Bag This!

"Would you like to purchase a bag with that?" she said sarcastically, as if the mere idea of someone purchasing a bag for just one item would be distasteful.

I'd congratulate the city of Toronto on its latest eco-friendly concept of applying a 5 cent charge for shopping bags, but I actually think it is yet another shiny example of the sort of moronic idiocy that is helping to define the 21 century as the time when a large segment of humanity became completely unglued to the reality of the world around them, and instead, started flip-flopping between ever increasingly stupid fear-inspired fads. Last week it was safety through SUVs, this week it's remembering to toss your whole collection of moldy dirty recycled grocery bags into you SUV before you head to the store. Sure, that ought to make my life better.

The plan, or perhaps plot is a more appropriate term, as conceived of by the usual pack of short-sighted rich politicians who clearly never shopped a day in their lives, is for the government to encourage us into over complicating our already pathetically out of control existence by eliminating some infinitesimally small amount of garbage, and once again finding trivial annoying ways to increase taxes for more deserving projects like getting nicer limos, bigger houses and more servants. Taxes for ineptitude.

Never mind the fact that few of my grocery bags were actually ending up in landfills, well not directly. Instead, when their increasingly cheap quality wasn't invalidating them, they were used to collect the output of my pet canine instead of leaving it there to fester on the streets. No misguided idiot is going to convince me that I should bring a special reusable container or big shovel or some other awkward object out on an evening walk in order to bypass the decades old convince of being able to clean up a biological mess with a simple scoop of a bag. Screw the environment, if it means the streets are paved with dog poo. Wait, isn't poo an environmental problems too?

But seriously, how can over-complicating our lives to do expensive, yet trivial things like sort our garbage into thousands of different expensive piles before paying more to recombining them at the dump, or shutting down the lights for a mere one hour, once per year, counter-balance the fact that our world is completely out of control and we have no idea how to fix it, other than by creating more running-shoe-company slogan-inspired make-world projects while we gratuitously avoid the real and serious problems like over-population, rampant pollution and massive environmental destruction that are threatening to shut down our pathetically little planet's first, and probably last, partially intelligent species.

Driven by the increasing hoards of sadly uninspired rock-throwing, protein-starved activists, that cleverly think depriving their pets of necessary nourishment is somehow in line with their pathetically shallow eco-religions of just making things worse, while they accumulate more and more income for their rich bosses and elite patrons to buy bigger houses and more expensive cars, we seem to be arriving at a new low point in our long history of clueless pawns being easily manipulated. The rich always find diversions for the populace while they hide out in their vast estates, as the constant flood of reckless, hungry and destructive humanity tears away at every crack and crevice left for grabs on the planet. But who'd want to admit that our aimless existence, massive population and wanton selfishness are significantly more challenging problems than just finding more cheap meaningless ways to trick the local population into pretending that their sacrifices in making their own lives more convoluted are anything more than just nother shallow hopeless fad.

Sure, screwing with our lives so that they are so outrageously complex that everybody without servants, is on the brink of a major mental melt-down because they can no longer cope with what the micro-brains in our society seem to keep wanting as a pathetic excuse for normal, has got to be a great way to fix our problems and re-direct mankind towards a more sustainable existence. Sure, that's going to work.

Huge, vast new industries have been formed to fix our world or save us from disease or some other easily digestible trivially-inspired "concept" meant to enrich the few and enslave the many. While they are unlikely to fix anything, or save us, and in fact are far more likely to slowly aid in making things tragically worse over time because their concepts are so shallow, stupid and mind-numbing that their real destructive side-effects get completely ignored, the masses are still heavily drawn to them as some sort of cheap alternative to having to actually think about the problems, change stuff or possibly fix things. Fix things? You can't just make a few new stupid rules, and expect that to work, our world is just not that trivial. If it fits well into a 30 second infomercial time-slot on TV, chances are it really isn't much more significant than that. Chances are that it is actually just adding fuel to an already massively out of control all-consuming fire, instead of trying to help us avoid any one of a huge number of impending major catastrophes that wait patiently on the horizon.

Personally, I'd rather work to simplify my life, and hopefully have some small amount of time leftover, to at least not pretend to change things, instead of just hopelessly piling more crap onto an increasingly bad problem. Fake, transparent ideas that make life more annoying, are clearly never going to amount to much more than some idle wasting of our already too short lives. If you're not really fixing the problems, then aren't you just making them worse.

"Yes, I'd like three bags please! I know, I know.... I only have one small item, but would you mind triple bagging that for me?"


  1. I totally get you.
    I once paid 2 francs in Switzerland for a bag.

    Without solving the bigger problems and just showing this small gestures of kindness to nature is like slapping back to mother nature.

    The big corporations do things like these only in search of additional income and get some cheap publicity to project themselves as responsible towards nature.

    Other than that it's nothing else.
    Actually, a better thing would be to stop selling bags altogether and force people to bring their own bags.Now,that's something.

  2. Hi Desperado,

    Thanks for the comments :-)

    But, is forcing people to bring their own bags actually fixing the problem? Is it really making life better? When their recyclable bags get dirty, and they toss them into the trash, because they are thinker and heavier did it really make that much of a difference? Did it really reduce waste? We still need garbage bags, and storage bags and bags to cleanup after our dogs. We depend on bags far more than we realize, for better or worse they've already wormed their ways into our lives.

    We're evolving, so ultimately we want to make life easier, not harder. Disposable bags have existed for all of these decades simply to help. Life is easier if you're free to go to the store whenever you choose, you're not required to drag around a bunch of bags, just in case. The more rules we create, the more dependencies we add, the more complex the process becomes, all these things make our lives harder, less desirable.

    If I had to choose, I'd prefer to keep disposable bags and drop all of the other disposable things we've gotten lately like cloths, and shoes, and ipods, and computers, and politicians, and philosophy, and ...

    When was the last time most people repaired anything? How much waste is actually industrial packaging?

    If we have to live with waste (and we do) it would be far wiser to pick problems to solve that have less of an impact on burdening an already over-complicated existence. I've got enough problems already, I'd don't need more.


  3. You are forgetting that you're supposed to feel good about recycling. It's fun sorting garbage with your family/kids or going down to the local dump in your SUV to drop off a plastic bottle for recycling. And at the end of it you feel good knowing you've made a difference!

  4. Yes, far more fun and relaxing than going to the beach, or strolling through a park or enjoying a good film. Why hang out with friends when you can sort trash instead :-)

    And knowing too, that the bags used to haul trash, poo and biodegradable bits in the landfill are now coming directly from the store, instead of having served some dubious usage before-hand really makes one feel their full contribution to the planet. We get to toss away a higher quality product. Yep, I feel better :-)


  5. I'm not a big fan of plastic bags and I end up using them much as you do...for excrement. I have a drawer in my kitchen that's overflowing with them so I, for one, don't mind paying the five cents. But how misguided can you get? Has anyone seen the vast quantities of plastic cups, Styrofoam containers, and excessive packaging on *everything*? At least my flimsy plastic bags get re-used at least once; what about all the rest of the stuff that industry is allowed to keep putting out? How about we charge THEM $0.05 for every non-recycled/recyclable/reusable container they produce. I'm sure their reasoning is: "it's cheaper to use this kind of packaging". So why do they get to cut costs and we pay for them?
    I want a clean city as much as the next person and while citizens do contribute, the vast majority of trash is generated by business. Frankly, I don't remember the last time I produced 100,000 Styrofoam coffee cups so maybe I'm not the worst culprit in all of this.
    I like your indignation!

  6. Anonymous: Are you serious? I put in 1% of the effort (or whatever infinitesimally small percentage I actually contribute), while industry thwarts the effort it with 99% of theirs and I'm supposed to feel good about that? Pull your head out of your ass.

  7. Hi TorontoCityLife (Patrick?),

    Thanks for the comments.

    What really drives me nuts is how people flock to these eco-fads, while we do nothing to fix the real problems. Spin is the defining feature of the 21st century. Rome burns, while we fiddle :-)

    I think Anonymous was being sarcastic :-)