Friday, April 20, 2007

Needless Waste

On my way home from work last night, I stopped to gas up my car. The station where I usually go is a combination gas station/convenience store. There's a snack bar inside where you can get hamburgers, hot dogs, and the like, made fresh. The snack bar is usually closed when I stop there, but because I left early last night, I got there as they were getting ready to shut it down for the night.

I was hungry and I didn't feel like making another stop at a fast food place, so I took a walk over to the snack bar. The clerk was in the process of closing and had thrown away most of the remaining food. All that was left were some chicken wings and a tray full of potato wedges. I arrived just as she was going to pull this tray out as well and throw it all in the garbage. I asked if she couldn't just give me the food, rather than throwing it away.

She said she wasn't allowed to do that; indeed, she wasn't even allowed to take the food home herself or she'd get fired. She did, however, give me the whole lot of it for a greatly reduced price, even thought that was also technically disallowed. The clerk told me that store policy is that it's supposed to be either sold at full price or thrown away uneaten.

I hate this kind of waste and this mentality with a passion. The clerk had mentioned to me that there are a lot of homeless people who pass by the station, and that she'd much rather give away whatever leftover food she has at closing to them rather than waste it by throwing it away. Similarly, our local supermarkets throw away a lot of still-edible, day-old baked goods, rather than donating it to the soup kitchen, the Salvation Army, or someplace similar. I'm not much of a believer in sin, but as long as there are hungry people in a community, to throw away good food is as close to sin as it gets in my book.

I've also seen clerks in bookstores taking paperback books that haven't sold off the shelves to make way for new releases. These books are then destroyed, which is nearly as bad as throwing away edible food. These books could be sold at a discount to a used/overstock bookstore, given to hospitals, nursing homes, and/or jails, rather than being shredded.

They've already lost whatever money they could have made by throwing such items in the garbage, so why not give it away? They probably could get a tax write-off for doing so, as well as giving their business a positive image in the community.


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