photo by Ryan Hyde
This type of situation has been happening to me a few times now and shows how FAR FAR AWAY from societal awareness we are when it comes to wasteful habits:
I was eating at a burrito chain, sitting inside the restaurant after having carefully chosen the meal that came in a paper plate only, using my own metal cutlery and fabric napkin. Realizing I had forgotten to take tortilla, I returned to the counter and asked for a single tortilla. The behind-the-counter lady threw one on the grill for re-heat, and then proceeded to grab a piece of aluminum foil to wrap it.
Swiftly I interfered and told her that I didn't need the aluminum, since I was sitting a few feet away and would eat it right away anyhow. She stopped mid-way with a question-mark look, when a behind-the-counter guy who had overheard me came forward, grabbed the tortilla and asked: 'you don't want aluminum?' I repeated 'No, I don't need it, I am going to eat it right away'. Looking at me straight in the eye, he took the tortilla, pulled out the aluminum foil, and proceeded to wrap it very intently, saying 'no, no I will wrap it for you'. He then triomphantly handed me the tortilla doubly wrapped in aluminum and paper, with a big smile on his face. During this gesture in slow motion I was caught between incredulity - at how somebody could disregard so blatantly a request I had expressed 2 or 3 times clearly - and how absurd it was, that they were thinking they were doing me a big generous favor by handing me a totally unecessary piece of one of the most polluting metals on earth.
(enter this graph, created from data found on greenspec:)
EMBODIED ENERGY OF MATERIALS
See that lonely point floating up high, waaay above all other materials? - yep, that's aluminum. and yes, this is including recycled aluminum)
I also remember the flight attendant who pushed new plastic glasses on me as I was saying I could perfectly well continue using the one I already had, 'oh but darling we have plenty here, let me give you a new one.' Oh thank you madam for your great generosity. I love plastic so much, you're making my day.
The sad thing is, these people were really trying to be nice. They were really expressing care in over-wrapping or providing something for me. And the awful fact is, our current material situation forces them to apply this ancient, timeless show of human kindness to very unhealthy objects.
Seriously. I'd rather eat cold tortilla.