While at work today, I took some time to grab some tea from the office kitchen with my coworker, a Program Manager. I opened the tea bag and part of it ripped exposing the tea leaves inside the filter. Before I had a chance to react to it, my PM said
“Oh don’t worry, ****** company is rich, just throw it away and just grab another one.”
I had to stop and process what she had just told me. All my life, my philosophy was to eat whats on your plate, and to never waste anything! (from food to paper towels!)
As cheap of a commodity as tea is, I could not bring myself to throw it away. I don’t care how much money I have (or in this case, how much money my company has), it’s wasteful. There was nothing wrong with the tea, just a small hole in the corner of the filter bag. This damage would not change the flavor nor the consistency of my tea. In fact, the filter bag is entirely optional- some people use tea diffusers with loose tea leaves. I just put in in my cup and told my PM:
“No, this is fine. I really don’t need to throw it away.”
Let me first say, I love my PM. She does a great job, and I don’t look down on her for thinking the way she did. The “throw it away and buy another one” mantra of extreme consumerism is an ideal that I have never subscribed too. However, Most westerners (especially Americans) have grown up in a culture where for generations people have subscribed to ‘consumerism and disposable sporks’. In many ways, our society and culture has been bread to not think of the implications of wasting food, commodites, and other goods.
In fact, they’ve really been bread to think like this:
“It’s broken, time to buy a new one!”
Whereas, I think, people should aspire to this ideal instead:
“It’s broken, but can I still use it? If not, can I fix it? If that is impossible, do I really need another one?”
Most of the time, I find that something is either still usable despite being broken, or it is simple to repair with some ingenuity and duct tape. If that doesn’t work, odds are good that I really don’t need another one.
But sometimes, I do. And only after I have rationalized why I need it, will I go out and buy it.