Free stuff isn’t always (often isn’t) worth it
As a kid, I always thought that more was better. It was always better to have things than to not have things, and it was always better to have more than less.
As I got older, this changed, as different burdens associated with having things became apparent. The burden of storage, of transport, of carrying weight, of keeping track of possessions. From the time I moved out of my parents’ house I have steadily acquired an increasing aversion to having or owning things. I certainly prefer to borrow or rent things. Obviously, the costs and benefits of having a certain thing shifts with one’s living situation and lifestyle. But the idea of ‘more is more’ is long past.
And so one finds oneself in the interesting situation of turning down free things, or being annoyed when useless complimentary things are thrust upon them.
Enter the Airport.
To be sure, Air Canada’s “CleanCare+” gives you a bunch of stuff that you didn’t ask for. I didn’t need the mask or hand sanitizer, I was happy for the water, cookies and pretzels, but I didn’t care much for all the plastic that came with it. And the earbuds? At first I was pleased they were labeled ‘biodegradable’ – but I realize now that I had optimistically assumed that the label applied to the ear buds – but of course it referred to the unnecessary packaging.
Not only does it bother me that all of this plastic created and brought into our environment on my behalf even though I didn’t ask for it – even though I would pay money to prevent its production – but the earbuds didn’t even work. One received pair didn’t work at all, the other has sound of such low quality that one could reasonably classify it as a piece of crap, and is probably worth more as a strangling cord or shoelaces than as any kind of electronic accessory. In fact, the raw materials contained within are likely of higher value than the headphones themselves (note that the cost of extracting and purifying said materials into a usable form would make the actual product less desirable than the simple raw materials).
And why were only the earbuds in biodegradable packaging? Why not the cookies, pretzels, or mask? Was it just to let us know that they could but didn’t care enough to actually reduce plastic output in a meaningful way? The useless earbuds represent more plastic than the unnecessary packaging would have. So what, is it just a veiled statement that they hate the environment? That they are wasteful? Or that they are confident that no one will care, so long as its free?
So if you are flying Air Canada be prepared to be burdened with (free) garbage wrapped in more garbage, a small portion of which will be biodegradable.
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