I live in Canada and here we have a chain of stores known as Zellers. Zellers is the Canadian version of Wal-Mart, though we do have them, too. It came to my attention that Zellers is scamming the populace. Yes, scamming and not a single person has protested or said a single thing about it. Zellers isn’t the only one guilty, either. We are in the midst of the biggest marketing scam since tobacco companies said cigarettes were good for stress.

While shopping in Zellers, I went to pay for my purchase and the cashier informed me that their disposable bags were now 5cents each. Would I like to buy one? I vehemently said no I wouldn’t so she then informed me that I could buy one of their permanent bags, a slightly sturdier bag meant for two or three shopping trips, for 99 cents. Did I want to buy one of those? Again I said no. I didn’t want to buy my bags. What was this nonsense? She smiled a sweet, vacant smile and let me know that it was to help the ecology. To encourage people to use non-disposable bags instead of filling landfills with disposable bags. Okay, back that truck up. Say what?

Yes, Zellers has joined so many other retail companies in what I like to call “The Big Bag Ecology Scam”. Everyone knows plastic is bad for the ecology and fills up landfills. Bringing your own bags is good. Yes, I understand that part. However, there are several problems I have here. First, I generally do bring my own bags unless I’m not planning on making a purchase. Therefore, using disposable bags is an occassional thing for me. Second, I recycle. Avidly. Constantly. Those disposable bags never go anywhere near a landfill. Third, the cost of that 5 cent bag is already figured into the cost of the items I’m purchasing. Yes, stores have to buy these bags, but that’s why they have an interesting thing they call “overhead” which includes the cost of those bags. So I’m now paying twice for the same bag. If I purchase one of their permanent bags they also include their overhead into the cost of those. So that 99 cents is not only paying for the permanent bag, it’s also paying for the disposable bag you didn’t use. Got a headache yet?

So let’s go over this again. You buy a nice little dress or shirt. You’re ready to put down your money. In the cost of that shirt or dress you’re paying for the store to do such things as run heating or air conditioning, pay rent for the space they’re in, pay for their employees, keep the store clean, buy bags for customers to use… Lots of wonderful things that we customers don’t think about when we enter the store. Now the customers are being asked to pay for those bags again? Who’s the genius who thought up this scam? Here’s an idea, give every customer a broom or duster and tell them that in order to be able to shop there they have to clean. Or why not tack on a “lighting” cost on to the bill for the lights. Oh there’s a million ideas for such little things like that.

If a store handed a customer a broom and told them to get sweeping, the customer would shop somewhere else.  However, the store hands the customer a bullshit story about the ecology and helping the environment and they’ll act like love starved donkeys. Here’s a couple of other “environmental” ideas that are a bust;

1. Ethanol – This wonderful gas made from corn! Yes, ladies and gentlemen! You heard me! Corn! Now you, too, can drive to the corner store in your oversized Hummer and still pretend you care about the environment. It’s made from corn. Nothing wrong with that, right? Wrong. Gas companies have bought up greath swaths of land in order to grow that corn in countries where growing corn is the cheapest. That is, South American countries where corn is a staple of the diet. However, the corn they’re growing isn’t going to feed the people. It’s going to your Hummer. Fill ‘er up.

2. Bamboo – Great wood. Hard, durable, easy to maintain, easily replenished. Lots and lots of bamboo just out there waiting to be cut down for your bowls, floors, window coverings, even clothes. Let’s cut it down, boys! Let’s forget that the endangered panda lives in those forests and eats that bamboo. It grows back. True, however, entire tracts of bamboo are getting cut down and it takes time for that bamboo to grow back. The panda is not easily adaptable and tends to want to stay in familiar territory. If its food supply is cut down, it will starve. North American forests and animals have adapted to losing their territory better. Forest fires regularly denude the land. Animals learn to go elsewhere for food and the forests use it as an opportunity to grow back. Forest industries use this to replenish the land. So, wear that bamboo outfit, walk on those bamboo floors and forget the panda that’s starving.

*If you know of any other money maker/marketing schemes that use the environment as a ploy, leave a comment. This nonsense of Chicken Little running around crying “the sky is falling” has got to stop. Enough now.*