Smile Politely

Things You Should Never Buy

I am a member of Coop America, which is one of those liberal, save the planet, use your economic power to buy green and socially conscious stuff organizations. Being a member means that I pay them a small annual fee, they send me a “green pages” book that contains guilt-free products, and then I put the green pages book in with the bills that I see once a month, and thus consistently forget to buy stuff from them.

But it just so happened that on bill day this month, I decided to buy a knife magnet, and remembered Coop America. By knife magnet, I don’t mean a magnet in the shape of a knife. That would be both useless and dangerous (unless there was a shiny, metallic robot coming after you, in which case you would have bigger problems than a magnetic knife could solve).

No, I was looking for a magnet you can hang knives on, attached to a kitchen wall. We have one, but it is rather unforgiving when my kids slap the knives against it to put the knives away. This makes for dull and chipped knives, which are not very handy for kitchen duties (or home invasions). So, I was looking for a softer version of one.

But, Coop America’s green pages were no help. They have eco-friendly dog collars, presumably legal hemp clothes, and a full line of socially responsible menstrual products, but no knife magnets. I thought perhaps their website might be more complete than their catalog, so I checked it out too. Still no knife magnets, but I did find a great list of Ten Things You Should Never Buy.

I love top ten lists. It makes whatever you are counting seem very important, like the Ten Best Movies of the year, the Ten Worst leadoff hitters since 1957, or even the Ten Best Top Ten Lists. If it is a list of things you shouldn’t do, it can even associate itself with the granddaddy of them all, the Ten Commandments, and be honored with a spot on a classroom wall.

Anyway, here’s Coop America’s list of things I should not buy. I like to think of myself as a liberal do-gooder, so I’m going to grade myself via their list. I will give up one point for each transgression.

  1. Styrofoam cups. I never buy them, but I guess I should also refuse to use them when others provide them for cookouts and such. Since I don’t do this last part, I’ll take a ½ point.
  2. Paper towels. Ooops. I thought paper was OK, being better than plastic. I guess it is, but cloth beats paper. 1 full point.
  3. Bleached coffee filters. I don’t drink coffee. I’m nervous enough as it is. 0 points.
  4. Overpackaged foods and other products. This is pretty vague. I’ll give myself a ½ point for not wanting to or intentionally doing it, but not necessarily being religious about it.
  5. Teak and Mahogany (especially from rain forests). I don’t believe I own a single thing made of teak or mahogany. Plenty of pine and oak in my house, but I guess that’s OK for now. 0 points.
  6. Chemical pesticides and herbicides. Have you seen my lawn? I should get negative points for its general neglect. Nonetheless, we had the ant guy out to the house this summer. ½ point.
  7. Conventional household cleaners. I sometimes buy the green stuff, but not exclusively. Another ½ point.
  8. Higher octane gas than you need. No problems here. I’m very cheap. 0 points.
  9. Toys made with PVC plastics. I don’t buy too many children’s’ toys these days, but how exactly would I know whether they contain PVC anyway? This list is starting to get annoying. 0 points.
  10. Plastic forks and spoons. I don’t buy these, but again, I use them when others provide cookout supplies, which is fostering their use. I’ll not award any new points here, and just include the ½ point from the Styrofoam cup thingy.

Total: 3 points if you accept the concept of ½ points, 6 points if you are stickler.

Either way, I am not a terribly impressive liberal do-gooder. I need to do better, or I might get my card revoked, since all liberals are known to be card carriers of something or other. I’m just glad that knife magnets are not on the list, because I’m still in the market for one.

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