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@bloodsdesire @EcoCatLady NutItOut, I also found your comment to be a gross mischaracterization of the poor bordering on truly offensive. I didn't post my reply as a non-poor person looking in on what the poor do, I posted from the perspective of being poor, because I am poor (and disabled).
Urbanwoodswalker has a great point about how much rich people waste, and how it doesn't look as wasteful as lesser off people. But even still, it IS true that disposables are cheaper than non-disposables in the short term, despite not being cheaper in the long term.
I'm coming at this from the perspective of currently only having $200 a month to feed four people, and never having a spare penny. We buy bulk paper towels to clean and dry with because the outset is much cheaper than what we'd have to pay to get enough towels and cloths to clean with even with cheap materials. We do not have extras of anything we can just repurpose. Our dishwasher has been broken for 6 years, and despite putting thousands of dollars we didn't have into figuring out what's wrong, four different plumbers have not been able to fix it. So the dishes pile up, and since we're all tired and overworked, we don't get to them. Then my sister (and this is a problem that's been discussed at length), when she cleans, just throws things out she doesn't want to deal with. So we end up having to get disposable plates, bowls, and utensils because dishes are a scarcity.
That 99c box of bags is not ideal, no, but when you've got $20 to live on for the next week and a half and you've run out of things to store your leftovers in and can't afford to just let them go to waste, 99c is far easier to deal with than buying more reusable plastic containers (which keep going up in price, by the way), and buying glass or metal reusable containers is just plain out of the question. Besides the pyrex larger containers, I do not know anywhere in this area where you can buy non-plastic storage containers, except Marlene's (a local organic market), and so I'd have to buy them all online, and not only is the wait for shipping not helpful in the short term, but the up front expense could mean my mom doesn't have the gas money to get to class for the week. Or to work.
Same for reusable non-plastic straws. I'd adore getting a set, but I can't afford it, and my family won't justify it when a package of disposable straws is anywhere from 50c to $3 depending on count. While my mom is an environmental studies student and is on the same level as I am here (I am a Sustainable Business student), neither of us can afford to get the glass straws, and the one who can refuses because she thinks it's a waste of money.
I am in a unique position, though, I know. I live in a suburb in the Greater Seattle Area, in a house that's falling apart and still mortgaged. We can afford the house because of my grandmother's SSI, we can afford the bills because of my mother's financial aid (I have not gotten out of the start up funding stage that WE provides), and so we're not on the street or back in the seedy mobile homes/apartments (but we have been). But at the same time, we cannot afford the repairs to the car, to figure out what's wrong with our dishwasher, to replace our electrical because it's original to the house and burning out, to fix our plumbing, or to get the roof fixed. We go to food banks when we can afford to drive there, and while the bus system is one of the best in the country, it's been deteriorating for the last 10 years and has become massively frustrating (and my mom refuses to use the bus, for OCD reasons). I can't bus by myself to a food bank and carry all that home by myself, I can't even walk with more than $30 worth of groceries from the (very expensive) store down the street.
It's easy to tell people to just budget in the changes they want to do but can't afford when it's a jump you've made, but when you're living on a very stretched thin income already, sometimes it really is impossible to just budget in a greater expense, even if it would save you money. Things like disposable replacements end up being a windfall luxury (and I do mean windfall as in "Money you might see somehow some day that isn't already pledged to something, if you're lucky) just because there's no other place to get the money to get them. While I think it's fortunate that is a reality you do not have to live, it is unfortunate that you do not see that it's a sad but very common reality for a lot of people.
6 months, 2 weeks ago on Are Plastic Ziploc Bags Suddenly Green or Greenwashed?
@EcoCatLady I think the thing about buying in bulk is more about economics than actual "green"-ness. It's a step to get people to think about how much they waste, and it's a step to get people to think about how much they're spending on packaging for non-bulk foods. For most people, going green isn't accessible due to finances (or they assume it isn't accessible). While there are some major tips that can help poor families be green - such as not buying paper products for their kitchen and cleaning needs, and relying on cheaper cleaners made from far less harmful materials, such as baking soda and vinegar - there are a lot of things that simply aren't feasible with how they live. Yeah in the long run reusable glassware and metal containers will save them money, but when they don't have the initial money to output on the expense, a $0.99 box of sandwich bags is the far more attractive option.
The WWF partnered with Coco-Cola as part of Coke's five year plan to not only reduce the waste of clean water, but improve the watersheds that surround their factories, and overall work to reverse their environmental impact. I don't know how successful that's been (we're learning about it in my Sustainable Business class), but I do know that was the deal with WWF.