Eco-Jerks

By Keith Kloor | May 21, 2012 7:18 am

I have a confession to make. When I shop at a neighborhood foodie store for some organic staples, I sometimes forget to bring the environmentally correct, reusable grocery bags.

It’s deliberate.

For one thing, it pisses off my wife, a woman who hordes clothing catalogs the way I once collected comic books, and whose online shopping sprees help keep UPS delivery truck drivers gainfully employed. When she gets two oversized cardboard boxes in one day, I’ll run out to buy a box of whole grain Cheerios just for the plastic bag.

But there’s another reason: I want that cashier to ask if I’d like a bag. Damn straight I do! (Cue that look from cashier.) I don’t care if it’s just a box of cereal. I can’t hold my iphone with one hand while walking home and texting with the other without slipping the handle of that non-biodegradable plastic bag around my wrist. (Before you sneer at me, too, remember, I live in a small apartment in a dense, urban neighborhood, use mass transit, buy organic, etc, etc. I’ve got chits to spare.)

Then there’s the added satisfaction when I get home and jam that plastic bag into the wicker basket stuffed with plastic bags, which is next to the one overflowing with clothing catalogs.

Now I want you to know that despite this jerky character flaw of mine, I’m a good guy at heart. I give up my seat for pregnant women on the subway. I stop for people that ask for directions. I play catch with my kid.

So I’m not like these morally depraved people.

 

CATEGORIZED UNDER: environmentalism
  • Menth
  • Mary

    The take-away message for me was to serve brownies to get compliance on stuff.

  • Matt B

    I need the plastic bags to pick up the dog doo ……… as Joe Walsh eloquently explains:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLNAkPsjAEk&ob=av2e

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Are you suggesting a moral tax, Keith?

  • http://rabett.blogspot.com Eli Rabett

    Naw, he just wants to pay for the bags.  Keith, of course is a rent seeker, and he wants us to support his bag sneer habbit.

  • MarkB

    Buying organic doesn’t make you a jerk – that’s silly. Organic products just attract self-righteous jerks.

  • hr

    Your plastic bag habit is fine. The real question is why you’re reading Jezebel?Go girl!

  • grypo
  • Keith Kloor

     @8

    That is such a terribly reported story I wouldn’t know where to begin. No sourcing/attribution, no substance. How that story made it through boggles the mind.

  • grypo

    Don’t stories like that go like that initially?  I imagine Guardian checked, no?

  • Keith Kloor

    @10

    No. The news is not attributed to anyone, not even anonymously. It also includes this gem of a paragraph (my emphasis):

    He has been on leave from the institute pending an external investigation into the unauthorised release of the documents, although it is not entirely clear what the investigation entailed. That investigation is now complete, and the conclusions will be made public.

  • jeffn

    #8- The story doesn’t even say who it was that “cleared” him. Is this a Greenpeace “investigation” or did Eli ask Gleick’s wife if he was a nice guy?

    In other news, another external investigation by somebody we won’t name has issued a report we refused to describe declaring The Guardian the bestest paper in the world.

    Real stories aren’t reported this way, Grypo, because they don’t have to be.

  • Ms. Scape

    oh man, nice way to rev up the romance, hon.

  • grypo

    But I read things like this all the time.  <br>Such-and-such “newspaper” learned such-and-such.  Details to come.<br> It’s not the height of journalism, but it’s done.  Do you think Guardian would have published that big news without trusting it?

  • Jack Hughes

    Bishop Hill covers the Guardian’s “Gleick Cleared” story…He was “cleared” on May 20 http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2012/5/20/gleick-cleared.htmlThen the Guardian pulled the story on May 21 http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2012/5/21/gleick-uncleared.htmlOnly to “clear” him again. 

  • Keith Kloor

    @14

    Really? You read stories like that all the time? Next time you come across something similar, bring it to my attention. It should contain no sourcing and be utterly unclear about what exactly it’s reporting on. 

  • grypo

    Are you upset because it doesn’t say “a source told the Guardian”?  Why?  Really?  And it does know what it is reporting on.  Are you saying she need to know all the details before reporting on the “big news” from the report.  This has been an interesting reaction.

  • Keith Kloor

    @17 Who said I was upset? But you are right that the reaction has been interesting, including yours.

    That sound you hear now is me smacking myself in the face for bothering to even have an exchange with you over this story.

  • grypo

    wow

  • Stu

    “Do you think Guardian would have published that big news without trusting it? ”It’s making it all up as it goes along. Just sit back and relax. 

  • Sashka

    I got a feeling that the bit about your wife isn’t quite a joke.

  • Keith Kloor

    Yeah, not to her. We don’t always think the same things are worth goofing on.

  • Tom Scharf

    Speaking of organic food.  Seem’s the world famous steak house in my local area just got caught with their pants down:

    http://www.tampabay.com/features/food/restaurants/most-of-berns-steak-house-produce-is-not-organic-or-locally-grown-on-its/1230996 

    They’ve been claiming for years their vegetables came from their own local organic farm, but the farm has been shut down, and even when is was operational, the amount of local organic content was just 5%.  Green-ism is only skin deep for much of America.

    This same paper DNA tested local restaurants fish a few years ago and found that over half of Grouper dishes were actually not Grouper, but much cheaper varieties of fish usually from Chinese fish farms.  Some of the restaurants were duped themselves though, as they were able to produce boxes stamped Grouper that they got from their vendors.

    http://www.sptimes.com/2006/08/06/Tampabay/You_order_grouper_wha.shtml

  • http://rabett.blogspot.com Eli Rabett

    The Guardian reports that the Pacific Institutecommissioned a report on Peter Gleick’s obtaining and then releasing the Heartland Institute documents (did you know that?)the report has been completed and is in the hands of the PI Board (did you know that?)the report states that upon investigation, the “mystery” memo does not appear to have been written by Gleick (new information)Details at 11. (Never seen that?  it is called a teaser by real journalists)and yes, Eli has read multiple such items as has everyone who reads newspapers and magazines (a secret source has told us that Barack Obama was born on Mars)

  • Vinny Burgoo

    The Erskine et al study appears to contradict Mazar and Zhong, 2010, which found that exposure to organic and environmentally friendly products makes us more altruistic but that actually buying them makes us more likely to cheat and steal.http://pss.sagepub.com/content/21/4/494.short

  • Keith Kloor

    Eli (24)

    I’ve been meaning to tell you how blessed I feel to have you back as a regular commenter. As for the Guardian article, thanks for providing all the information that wasn’t contained in the actual article. 

    As for the piece’s journalistic merits, I seem to recall you have had a big problem with “churnalism”in the past. I guess it depends who’s churnalism (it always does, right?) is more acceptable. Well to each his own. (Perhaps you should read my latest post on spin.)

    What you call a “teaser” I call a “stinker.” The article fails all the basic rules of journalism. 

  • http://www.aei.org/scholar/kenneth-p-green Kenneth P. Green

    Keith -Next time you p.o. the wife unit and the cashier, point out that studies show reusable bags are worse for the environment, AND more likely to spread disease than are regular old plastic bags.I wrote an article about the studies here: http://www.american.com/archive/2011/march/a-punching-bag-no-more/?searchterm=plastic%20bagAnd I blogged about another recent addition to the canon here:http://blog.american.com/2012/05/can-we-undo-the-plastic-bag-restrictions-and-taxes-now/ 

  • http://www.aei.org/scholar/kenneth-p-green Kenneth P. Green

    And, what symbol do I use to denote linebreaks?

  • http://rabett.blogspot.com Eli Rabett

    Keith darlin, you have to be able to read.  It is a skill most of us pick up before we are 12.  Seriously, what is between the line is often obvious.

  • Michael Lowe

    These days we don’t have any old plastic bags to put the kitchen rubbish in. So we buy rubbish bags instead of recycling grocery bags. They seem a litle thinner, I wonder if they are better in some way for the environment. We certainly feel more virtuous.

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Collide-a-Scape is a wide-ranging blog forum that explores issues at the nexus of science, culture and society.

About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, and an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets. From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine. In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest. He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.

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