Thursday, March 26, 2015

So, your reusable grocery bags will kill you in the long run?

If you live in the USA, then there is one more hazard that you need to worry about if you are one of the conscientious who takes reusable bags to the grocery stores.

First, why one more hazard?  Because, I already blogged about this one, and that was more than two years ago!

Second, why in the US and not elsewhere?  Because, ahem, we are all being very fashionable about it, as if we care more for the environment than others, when the reality is that in most countries, people almost always take their own bags.  Now, thanks to us, others are also picking up this bad plastic bag habit.

Come on, you know where this is from!

So, after those clarifications, may I bring to your attention that latest hazard if you take reusable bags to grocery stores?
It was clear that shoppers who brought their own bags were more likely to replace nonorganic versions of goods like milk with organic versions. So one green action led to another. But those same people were also more likely to buy foods like ice cream, chips, candy bars, and cookies. They weren’t replacing other items with junk food, as they did with organic food. They were just adding it to their carts.
Yep, that's right. You take those bags and you end up buying more junk food.  How about that!
In consumer psychology the word “licensing” is the key. If I behave well in one situation, I give myself license to misbehave in another, unrelated situation. Similar research has also been done on health decisions. I get a Diet Coke; I treat myself to a hamburger. In this case bringing a bag makes you think you’re environmentally friendly, so you get some ice cream. You feel you’ve earned it.
Apparently we have decided that we either litter the world with plastic bags, or litter our digestive systems with junk food.  We litter, therefore we are!
I suspect that as bringing reusable bags becomes a widespread practice, it’s likely these effects will change. Look at bottle recycling. It used to be that you felt as if you were doing a good thing by recycling bottles. Now it’s to the point where you don’t get a cookie for recycling them; you just get penalized if you don’t. You get nasty stares.
Oh, ok, we just need to ride out the temporary issues then.  There is hope?  Not so fast, because:
The dollar value of the indulgence relative to the entire basket’s value tends to be low. But the nature of the food—high calorie, high fat—may be the more important factor, not how much it costs. The effect does dissipate as indulgences get more expensive. Then there’s a whole other, nonfood aspect to it. Is lavender-scented laundry soap an indulgence? Maybe. We limited our focus to food.
In this research, they looked only at food items purchased.  So, who knows how much we truly indulge ourselves just because we feel awesome at having been environmentally responsible enough to take reusable bags!

We humans are one interesting bunch of animals, yes.  An orangutan wouldn't be this fascinating.  Wait, are we being manipulated by Dr. Zaius?

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