Junky Sustainability

So the swag in our 5K bags has changed in the last year or so.

Instead of little tchotchkes like bottle openers, calculators, and whatnot delivered in a plastic bag that I could reuse as a small garbage bag, we’re getting ticky-tack water bottles.

The bottles, of course, are so you can refill them with tap water instead of drinking from a plastic bottle and tossing it. However, the swag bottles are only nominally thicker than the disposable water bottles. They’re not quality water bottles with insulation, and let’s be honest: everyone already has one. We do. Since everyone is giving out these little water bottles, we’ve got a bunch of them. Maybe I’m just a little peeved about their profusion because my boys like to fill one up with some fluid and instead of drinking it and reusing it, they leave them littered around the house like stray bowling pins as they then use another. Every couple of weeks, I collect them, wash them, and put them in a donation box for a church garage sale, where they can sit on a table for a couple of days marked a quarter before someone else throws them out, from whence they go to a landfill and take double the 100,000 years or whatever it takes for a disposable water bottle to decompose.

Many of the athletic events have switched from plastic bags to tissue-thin recycled plastic fiber “reusable” shopping bags as well. They’re thin and don’t look to be very durable except, probably, in landfills. I don’t use reusable grocery bags as I like to collect the plastic bags to use for cat litter cleaning and for the multitude of small waste cans at Nogglestead. At times, when I have not been shopping as often, I’ve resorted to buying a box of these plastic bags. I’d feel a little odd using the reusable bags for trash duty, so they go into the donations box pretty much the time I get home from the athletic event.

So in lieu of disposable items, the swagmakers and swag-swaggers of the world offer us these cheap reusable items that are not much better than the disposables they replace and allow the people whose logos appear on them to feel like they’re doing something for the environment, but, come on, they’re not.

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