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Random Thoughts

Saving the planet

The force seems strong among the ‘environmentally-conscious’ folks. They’re a strong and passionate community. And I love that the government’s backing them up to ban all plastics for eco-friendly options like paper and/or jute/cloth bags. But the latter’s expensive. Not by a lot, of course, but each time I pay a little extra (which is like every freaking day) for that darn bag I feel guilty of wasting money.

Yes, I could’ve remembered to keep a spare bag or two in my car or my bag or even in one of my pockets (just in case, I’m a professional part-time shopper for my household after all) but then I forget. I understand the alternative (for me and ones like me) is to develop the habit of remembering to carry the cloth bag. The other is to let the government know they should stop selling these eco-friendly options to customers, which I know isn’t going to happen. Here’s why — there’s an industry to run and those 2 to 5 rupees would keep it humming. I get that and there’s ought to be a way to make this experience of shelling out money less painful (read – noticeable).

How about having the tax that we already pay of each and every thing we buy take care of these eco-friendly options? Money from the taxes should keep these government-run industries running anyway. Why bother to charging extra when you already are by way of taxes? And the best part is that nobody complains about paying those taxes. It’s ingrained in our brains so much so that we don’t even care about it anymore.

Perhaps, this is something our environmentally conscious friends could bring it up with the government? I understand this is too small a matter to be even talking about but let me put things into perspective (these are hypothetical figures, the actual cost may be higher):

Price/cloth bag: INR 2
Customers/hour who buy these bags: 100
Average hours of operation per store: 10
Total revenue per day (from bags): INR 2,000
Total revenue per month (from bags): INR 60,000 (close to $1,000)
Average number of shops in a district: 100,000
Total revenue per district: INR 6,00,00,00,000 (or $84,268,597.73)

Read this carefully — $84,268,597.73. That’s tax payer’s money! Don’t tell me the government needs that much to run a local district’s cloth bag producing mill. Of course, there’s the shop’s markup that I never mentioned but that’s the whole freaking point. Selling them these bags would give them the leverage to charge customers which isn’t warranted.

Could it be that our micro-businesses may be ripping us off? I guess so. Should the government do anything about it? Absolutely! Ban the sale of these bags by shopkeepers. Why? Because sales was never the agenda. Saving the planet was. Speaking of which, there’s a reason why the concept amuses me. I’m sharing a clip from George Carlin’s HBO special years back. I hope you have fun watching and reading (or perhaps rereading) the transcript (hat tip to Rohan from ALearningADay.com for sharing) below:

Saving the Planet – George Carlin

“We’re so self-important. Everybody’s going to save something now. “Save the trees, save the bees, save the whales, save those snails.” And the greatest arrogance of all: save the planet. Save the planet, we don’t even know how to take care of ourselves yet. I’m tired of this shit. I’m tired of f-ing Earth Day. I’m tired of these self-righteous environmentalists, these white, bourgeois liberals who think the only thing wrong with this country is that there aren’t enough bicycle paths. People trying to make the world safe for Volvos. Besides, environmentalists don’t give a shit about the planet. Not in the abstract they don’t. You know what they’re interested in? A clean place to live. Their own habitat. They’re worried that some day in the future they might be personally inconvenienced. Narrow, unenlightened self-interest doesn’t impress me.

The planet has been through a lot worse than us. Been through earthquakes, volcanoes, plate tectonics, continental drift, solar flares, sun spots, magnetic storms, the magnetic reversal of the poles … hundreds of thousands of years of bombardment by comets and asteroids and meteors, worldwide floods, tidal waves, worldwide fires, erosion, cosmic rays, recurring ice ages … And we think some plastic bags and some aluminum cans are going to make a difference? The planet isn’t going anywhere. WE are!

George Carlin on Save the planet – ALearningADay.com