Conservation Nation

October 19, 2007 at 7:20 pm 4 comments

OK, time for a bit of a rant. Here we go.

I’m at a pharmacy picking up a few necessities (Palmer’s Cocoa Butter, Tom’s Toothpaste, and non-organic (oops) feminine products (double-oops)). I get in line to check out, and while glancing around the store in boredom my eyes fall upon this atrocity:
Disposable hand sanitizer packets.

This item may not mean much to most of us, but to me it represents the heart of the American environmental dilemma. And it fills me with rage. RAGE!

First of all, hand sanitizer is pretty nasty stuff. Many brands contain the chemical Triclosan, a toxic substance that has not yet been proven safe by the FDA (and is therefore not recommended to be used by children), which you’re supposed to rinse off after use. The FDA actually had to issue a warning to Proctor and Gamble about it recently, because they were marketing their hand sanitizer, “Vicks Early Defense”, without telling people to rinse after use and because they were (falsely) claiming that it helps to prevent colds in children. The kinds that don’t contain Triclosan are mainly made up of alcohol, along with these substances: Glycerin, Isopropyl Myristate, Propylene Glycol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Aminomethyl Propanol – sounds like the kind of goo you want to rub on your hands just before eating, right?

Like I said, it’s nasty. Even if hand sanitizer does manage to kill all the germs and bacteria on your hands (which it doesn’t), if you don’t rinse it off you’ve still got a bunch of dead germs and bacteria all over you.

But people have for some reason decided that washing their hands is no longer good enough, and instead they carry little bottles of this crap around with them and rub it all over their selves and their children, imagining that it’s magically shielding them against illness. But it’s not, and what it really is is a mere expression of our bio-paranoia and laziness.

We Americans have become too lazy to wash our hands, and now we’re too lazy to carry around a 2 ounce bottle of hand sanitizer and instead we must turn to disposable single servings reminiscent of ketchup packets. And it’s all in the name of convenience. If it’s not convenient, we just can’t manage. And if it’s too inconvenient to wash our hands, it’s certainly too inconvenient to use a re-usable shopping bag or water bottle, and it’s not even fathomable to use a good old fashioned mop instead of a swiffer.

We’re addicted to convenience and we’re addicted to buying things that make our life quicker and easier. As Americans, we’re not even citizens anymore – we’re “consumers”. We buy, use and throw away, because that is our purpose. I think it’s time that Americans got over the whole “consumer culture” and instead adopted a “culture of conservation”. Why do I think this? Because disposable hand sanitizer, and plastic bags, and bottles of water and swiffers and overflowing garbage cans enrage me and pretty soon I won’t even be able to get enraged because I’ll be buried under mountains of waste.

That’s all. Thanks for listening. I feel better now.  


Entry filed under: conservation, rant time.

Ew. Squash Sauce

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. terra  |  October 20, 2007 at 1:30 am

    I saw an ad in a magazine for one-use underwear! For that special time of the month… instead of washing, you can just throw it away.

    Everything is disposable now. We’re approaching a disposable culture, and it is enraging.

    Good post. I’m right there with you on this!

  • 2. Helen  |  October 21, 2007 at 4:21 am

    I wondered about the “feminine” topic when I read about No Impact Man’s year long experiment, with his wife and 2-year old, to go drastically green for an entire year (including taking stairs instead of elevators and no tv – not sure what he’s doing about computers since he has a blog).

    Anyway, when I first heard him being interviewed he delicately avoided anwering questions about feminine products and diapers. Haven’t followed his experiment, but I would hope by now they could reveal how his wife deals with that.

  • 3. terra  |  October 22, 2007 at 1:40 am

    There are a few “green” feminine products. Maybe she used one of those.

  • 4. gwen  |  October 22, 2007 at 3:17 pm

    My friend uses the Moon Cup – – which is a re-usable, flexible plastic cup that’s supposed to be a good choice if you’re hunting for green feminine products. I don’t know if I’m personally ready to ge there yet, but I’ve definately been thinking about it. For now I should at least be going for organic cotton products…


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