The other day I decided to get lunch somewhere else and I found an arrepa truck. I haven’t had one of those since I’d been to Colombia, so I thought this was going to be automatically awesome.
They had a veggie black bean arrepa. It was really good. Now let’s back up. When you think of getting an arrepa, how much material do you need to pack it up? You already know exactly where this is going. Onward!
The arrepa was in a styrofoam clamshell (seriously?), handed to me inside of a paper bag. I quickly handed the paper bag back to him, and he seemed puzzled. What am I supposed to do with the paper bag? I don’t want napkins, I don’t need a fork or anything, and surprisingly I was never offered these things anyway (good job).
I think he sensed I was “that guy” as soon as I gave the bag back, but what am I to do? Take it? I don’t want it and it’s a waste. Maybe one day I’ll see someone else give back a bag or utensils (or better yet make a suggestion about material choices), but so far no such luck in the 5 years of occasionally getting lunch during work.
I asked him why they were using Styrofoam and suggested that it’s not a good look. He mumbled something about consideration of costs… yeah, I get that. You want to save a few pennies per sale, and yes it adds up. I really didn’t feel like talking about it anymore, so I just walked away, feeling like a jackass carrying a clam shell with me, and even more so for asking at all.
At the nearest corner, I removed the clamshell, crushed it in half and put it in the recycling can, knowing damn well that nothing will happen to it although it is a plastic that can be recycled (although it’s astronomically cheaper to produce new virgin styrofoam).
Oh no! A contaminant. I’d rather place it there, knowing it will be mechanically separated from the rest of the materials and acknowledged as material that isn’t going away, instead of trashing it where it won’t get another look.
Here’s the kicker: the arrepa was wrapped in aluminum foil inside the clamshell. So let me get this straight: you’re worried about costs, but you’re triple packaging an item you’re selling to me. How about sell me the thing in the aluminum foil and that’s it?
I walked 15 minutes back to my desk where it was still piping hot, without the aid of Styrofoam’s wonderful insulation properties (that still don’t justify its existence in the first place). That guy can make one hell of an arrepa.