I was struck recently by a picture of a promotional plastic cell phone stand with a company’s logo on it. When I looked at the mock-up of what it would look like, the only thing I could think of was – this will end up in everyone’s TRASH CAN.
One website selling these types of corporate swag has about 831 different types of plastic writing instruments and 638 types of plastic drink ware (e.g. mugs).
The online supplier of these plastic cell phone stands sells them for about $0.78 each. It’s tacky and it will probably break the first time that you open it a little too quickly. If not the first time, then surely by the third.
When I asked a customer service representative from the website where these stands are made, they replied that they are labeled/printed and packaged in Florida. And then I went on to ask further – well, if that’s where they are printed, okay, but where is the plastic body of this holder made?
They didn’t know.
I said, “So that means China.”
They said, “Maybe.”
We can go further – Let me guess, made by children or adults working ungodly hours inhaling toxic plastic fumes for less than pennies, because, come on, these are retailing for 78 cents each.
It’s the sort of thing you get at a job fair or in a gift basket. Crummy pens with companys’ logos on them, that will end up at the bottom of the passenger seat floor area of your car, and then thrown out. But you thought nothing of it at the time, or even, YAY FREE STUFF! It’s fine if you didn’t really need it – because, let’s face it, they were made to be disposed of.
We have a disposable culture. We buy objects with the knowledge they are worthless, free, or otherwise don’t have value, so who cares if we throw them out – we can just get a new one.
Let’s you and I together think about this – the life cycle of this plastic cell phone holder…
Where does it end up after you throw it out…? The belly of a dolphin? That floating plastic island in the Pacific the size of Kansas? At best it ends up in a landfill. And along with a billion other trinkets, that’s where it will stay for the next 450 years. At least.
Given this timeline, and that plastic bottles were first used commercially in 1947, this means that all the normal plastic consumables ever manufactured, will only begin to fully decompose in the year 2397.
What can you do to change it?
For those ordering this schlock or thinking about ordering the schlock: Stop, it’s junk and the world doesn’t need more junk. Not even with your logo on it.
For those offered the schlock: Question it, do not take it, and maybe speak up about it when you see it.
You don’t have to accept it and when you don’t accept it, you can say why.
If you don’t speak up to the people handing it out, that’s fine too, because when they go back to their employer with a box full of pens or cell phone holders that no one took because they were cheap and unnecessary, they probably won’t buy them again. Your action still speaks louder than words.
So, surprisingly enough, the power is in our hands. Each decision we are making is supremely powerful and does impact the world around us. Abstaining from taking free useless crap sends a clear message too.