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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Supersized Everything - Waste Included

Glad to be back after a bit of a break!  I'm in MD staying with my parents.  I am finding a lot of food for blogging down here, though! :)

We stopped at McDonald's for ice cream cones last night.  For 3 ice cream cones, they gave us 27 napkins!  Not an exaggeration and not a misprint!  Here's a picture:

Now my boys are messy, but even they don't need 9 napkins for 1 ice cream cone (a very tiny ice cream cone at that)!

We visited Applebee's and the boys were given the plastic kids' cups with lids and straws.  When they asked for a refill and tried to give the waitress their cups, she set them down and brought them brand new plastic cups....?!?  So instead of 3 plastic cups, lids, straws (which was bad enough), we ended up with 5 of each...for 1 visit.

And then there was our visit to Walmart.  We all love low prices, but sometimes you have to wonder at what price these low prices come.  But now TerraCycle has partnered with Walmart, so it makes me want to give them a chance.  Well, the Walmart that I visited here didn't have any TerraCycle items to be found and when I asked 2 of the workers, they looked at me like they had never heard of TerraCycle I wasn't off to a good start.  I did need some allergy meds., though, so I purchased a few things while I was there.  When I pulled out my reusable bag to ask the lady in the 'less than 20 items' lane to use it, she shook her head 'No' and told me to push my items up and she was shoving them as quickly as she could into her plastic bag.  All around me, I watched carts piling up with tons of plastic seems that Walmart has  a policy of only putting 5 items in a bag, no matter what their size.  Some people had what looked like 10 plastic bags for what I'm guessing was no more than 30 items.  ?!?  Did I mention that the entire Walmart store smells like badly offgassing plastic?  What is that all about?  They are not really doing much to improve my impression of them, although I do realize that their prices are hard to beat and there are many people who depend on them for cheaply priced items.  I have a love / hate relationship with Walmart.  I really want to love them, but I keep finding more reasons to hate them.  I guess this story is to be continued...

And I now have 3 letters to sit down and write.  I'm hoping they will be taken seriously.  Have you ever written a letter to a company and gotten a really great or satisfying response?

What's your Walmart story?  What do you think about fast food and restaurant waste?  Lots more food for thought....


  1. I do write letters, Kate...just wrote one to Pepsi asking to bring back their glass bottles. I was surprised to get a response as follows:
    "Packaging decisions are typically made by our local bottlers, many of which are privately owned, franchised operations. With environmental considerations in mind, most of our bottlers are following the industry-wide trend to use plastic packaging. In fact, the industry continues to make ever-greater use of fully recyclable aluminum cans and PET plastic bottles."
    DID YOU KNOW ... *** All of Pepsi-Cola’s plastic soft-drink bottles contain an average of 10% recycled plastic, and the average aluminum can contains 40% to 50% recycled aluminum.
    The thing about the napkins at McDonald's and other fast food least with me....I never have to buy napkins....I just use their napkins at home instead. I have a variety...some from Fast Food places....some from restaurants that we visit....some brown...some white....but they do get used rather than thrown away.

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  3. :) That is almost as bad as the non-response I got from Silly Bandz!

  4. Well, Kate, I was at the walmart to see if my experience differed from your post. Probably needless to say that it didn't. The ONLY difference was that they now sell re-usable wal-mart bags and my cashier seemed to double up on getting at least 7 items into each bag instead of the usual 3 (woo hoo!) And forget trying to find anything organic, but that's another story. Even my 'newly improved' Pampers *uggh - disposable* diapers came with a special treat in the 'reduced packaging' box. A not-so-handy diaper pouch! WTF does this thing do? A mini diaper bag for inside my diaper bag? I need that!!! NOT!!!

    Got the same treatment with the kids plastic cups at Friendly's, too. "more milk?" "' you g..." back with another new cup AND super thick bendy straw that changes color. Do we need 2 of those? In ONE meal?!?!?!?

    So what do we do? Stop going to these places that our kids love and that make our lives easier when we're travelling or on the go? Opt for the extra drive to the local Chipotle where I have to literally beg for a plastic fork if my burrito falls apart? Is there some balance to be struck between convenience and waste? I'm not ready to tote along rice, beans, and wraps in a canvas man-purse in case the family needs a quick bite.

    Re: Pepsi and recycled packaging - I should have been a statistician. Brilliant pitch of money saving techniques as special friendliness toward the environment.

    Olive Garden take out...don't even get me started...

  5. Thanks for the Walmart follow-up. They have a lot of work to do training their workers to be more eco-friendly in the bag dept. for sure!

    I used to bring the kids' drinks along if we were eating out, but that takes a bit of foresight - easier at home than when you're on the road. That is a good solution, though, I think. Good for the environment and good for your wallet!

    I will be doing some letter-writing, though. Such a waste to use multiple cups at one sitting. Mikey and Mattie can definitely use glass like an adult now, so I have to start asking for that. Little changes make big improvements.

    The diaper and wipes companies definitely need some letters about packaging and waste...nobody needs that many extra containers!

    p.s. - Hurray for Chipotle (this is when you need your little BYO bag of utensils that you whip out of your man-purse..hee, hee)! We need more businesses like them who try to do the right thing! Panera Bread uses a lot of reusable dishes...I think they would be easy to convert if they got a big letter-writing campaign aimed at getting rid of their plastic cups.

  6. I have to give a shout out to a great new blog and this entry that I especially love related to this topic:

    Thanks, David!