Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Is "Reuse, Reduce, Recycling" REALLY that difficult a concept?

Before D and I purchased our terrifically earth friendly grocery bags, we used paper bags. This in itself was a struggle. When you ask for paper in a crowded grocery store on a Sunday afternoon, they look at you like you have 4 heads and then give you a paper bag within a plastic bag. "No no!" we'd exclaim, trying to explain that we ONLY want PAPER, not PAPER + PLASTIC... Eventually we got tired of this weekly tradition and invested in kick-ass cloth bags that are actually much more convenient than paper AND/OR plastic (comfortable handles, fit more food, and are easier to carry). Why do some people consider thinking about the environment to be such a chore? And why do others not even give the environment a second thought? My college roommates dated a guy (2 roommates, 1 guy) who used to say, "what did the future generations ever do for me?" Although Andy was overly blunt about it, many Americans feel this way to a point, and it's devastating.

Yesterday i went to pick up a prescription at CVS. They always insist on giving me that plastic case to my prescription, each time, even though i don't need it. I only needed the plastic case the first time and now all i need is the refills of the medication but apparently this is incredibly difficult for them to understand. When i call to refill the prescription monthly there is no option to talk to an operator and indicate that i only need the med, not the case so each time i've had to go into CVS and try to explain it to them. Just the meds, not the plastic case. Most of the time this works out just fine, they understand what i mean, and we all move on... Not yesterday though. The woman helping me was so confused, which got me incredibly annoyed and confused as well.

This is how the conversation went:

Her: CVS card?
Me: Hi. Thanks. Yes, here you go... I only need the pills though, not the plastic case
Her: What do you mean?
Me: There is a plastic case in the prescription and i am hoping you can use that for someone else's prescription because i already have one at home and don't need another
Her: Well why don't you take it anyway, just in case?
Me: No thanks
Her: Are you sure?
Me: Yes.
Her: But your sticker is on it, with your name
Me: Can you take the sticker off?
Her (annoyed): Sure
*she takes the sticker off, looks at me confused, and THROWS THE PLASTIC CASE IN THE GARBAGE!*
Me (outraged & confused): NO NO NO NO NO! The whole point of me not taking the case was so that it could be used for another prescription, so we don't waste plastic, and so that i don't use more "stuff" than i need, so we recycle!
Her (Looking down into the trash bin): it's ok, i think we recycle here
Me (Pissed at this point): Can you please take it out of the garbage and please put it in my bag?
Her (As if she's won): So now you DO want it?
Me: Well if i knew you were going to throw it out i would have just taken it home in the first place
Her: Oh, so you want me to reuse it for someone else's prescription?
Me: YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Her: But we have TONS of them, we don't need this one
Me: That's not the point. Listen, forget it, i'll just take it home. (probably with tears in my eyes because i was so frustrated, confused, and exhausted after work and from this nonsense)
Her: No, that's ok, if it really means this much to you i'll walk over and put it back in the empty container box.
Her: Have a nice day
*As she hands me my prescription in a paper bag, within a plastic bag*
Me: You too - I'm just going to leave this plastic bag here and only take my prescription, ok? Thanks. Bye.

End Scene.

Oh Lawd Have Mercy...


Anonymous said...

What a crazy story! This prescription - it doesn't come prepackaged right? Like the pharmasist techs have to assemble them with the blister packs? If that's the case...what's the problem then? The only thing I can think of is that they wouldn't have a place to put your rx sticker...except maybe on the back of the blister pack? I don't know. I'm sorry you had to handle that.

On a side note - can you post where you bought your awesome reusable bags from? I have a couple from S&S they gave me for free but I need some more :)

- Brandi

Karma said...

You should work in retail and REVERSE that transaction 1000 times a day!!!

There was an article in the Courant last week about the bill in the State Senate about mandatory recycling for plastic bags, you should have seen the revolt that kicked off on the message boards. The idea of bringing ones own bag was just too much to handle, unAmerican even. I just dont see the difficulty. Im with you guys, cloth bags kick ass.

Amelia said...

Wow. I feel for you, in that conversation you had. I have gotten my family into the habit of bringing their own bags when they go shopping, and recycling (my parents didn't even recycle until I asked them to 5 years ago!)

It's so sad when you bring your own bag to the store, and the cashier is already busy ignoring you and bagging your stuff in a plastic bag...and gets annoyed when you ask them to please remove the items.

I sigh.

Excellent post.

phd in yogurtry said...

thank you for taking on the good fight. maybe the next patron will have an easier time of it. we can hope.

Anonymous said...

Amelia: Try putting your cloth bag on the conveyer belt, in front of your groceries. That way the person working checkout has to move it before they scan your groceries, so they're sure to notice it. Ditto if there's a bagger: your bag is the first thing the checker passes them, before any of your groceries.

GottabeMe said...

Oh jeez. Funny but sad, all at the same time. I had a similar scenario at my local Giant pharmacy. I had had a prescription filled, but the pharmacy didn't have enough pills, so they gave me ten, and said come back in 2 days to get the rest. I paid for the whole thing then.

I come back a few days later and explain this to the girl at the counter. She looks in the area where regular refills are. I explain again it's not a refill, the pharmacy ran out of pills, I'm getting the rest, I paid for them all two days ago.

She seems to not hear me, and goes and gets the pharmacist, and whispers to her (so loudly that I hear her clearly) "She says she needs a refill, but the computer says it's too soon."

I explained, again, about how it was NOT a refill. Magically, the pharmacist understood and told the girl where to find the rest of my pills, and that I had already paid for them. But Goddamn.

Anonymous said...

For a little perspective from an insider :-) While I applaud your efforts to save plastic, unfortunately, each box of medication is packaged with six cards of medication and six plastic containers. Even if you don't take the plastic containers from the pharmacy, they will eventually get thrown away because they are supplied one-to-one. That's how the come from the drug company, not just CVS. There are actually several products packaged in small cardboard boxes...my advice would be to ask your doctor to change you to one of those!


Kelly said...

OH MY GOODNESS... the same damn thing happens to me EVERYWHERE. I always carry around my huge bag so anything I buy goes right inside... people look at me like I'm inconveniencing THEM by not taking their bag!!! It's so frustrating... ugh!!!!!!

P.S. I do read your blog, very often in fact... so stop giving me crap! :)

Ana Jurney said...

oh my gosh...sorry to laugh at your expense...but i just had to laugh at this one...and roll my eyes at the lady behind the counter! good grief!

Pizza Diavola said...

Sheesh, that sounds frustrating! Good on you for sticking with it and trying to get the point across, though.

For a brighter note--I'm at a gelateria right now, and I just heard some customers ask if the little plastic cups for the gelato were recyclable. The cashier said that they're biodegradable, actually, because they're made out of that corn stuff!

Anonymous said...

I was thinking the same as anonymous from inside the industry. The plastic probably comes with the meds, whether you want it or not. You're almost certainly better off taking the plastic and recycling it, and writing to the drug company that supplies the medication asking them to engage in more environmentally sustainable practices.

FeministGal said...

Karma - i know! i read that CT was going to be the first state to implement the "no plastic bags" rule but people aren't too happy about it...

Amelia - i know how you feel, but i almost get satisfaction out of asking the cashier to take everything out of the plastic bags and put it into the bags i provided... s/he should have been paying attention, not being rude! (does this make me a terrible person? lol)

Becky - Thanks for the insider perspective! :) would my doctor know which come in the small cardboard boxes and which are in plastic? i will definitely do that - thanks for the great advice! :)

Kel - sorry :) i'll stop giving you crap!!!!

Ana Jurney - we all gotta laugh sometimes, that's how we stay sane :)

Pizza Diavola - yeay for the biodegradable spoons! I know ben & jerry's uses those, i didn't know any other company that did! I'm glad they're catching on!! :)

Anonymous said...

How hard is the refuse reuse recycle concept?!

Some people just don't get it.

Evolution will weed them out in the end ;)

Anonymous said...

humans waste so much stuff...