Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Checking in on Gimme 5

A few weeks ago I was interviewed by Elizabeth Royte, author of Garbageland and Bottlemania, for an upcoming magazine article. We spent a few hours together on a Saturday talking about plastic reduction and reduced consumption in general, and visited Union Square (compost drop off) and Whole Foods (batteries and plastics drop off). Elizabeth was kind enough to take my picture, after helping me negotiate permission from the customer service staff:

Hmm. I don't think those items were included in any tallies. The take out dish and yogurt tub were from my roommate and the Brita filter is a shared household item. I'm so thrilled to be able to recycle it!

This has been my only time dropping #5 plastics off for Gimme 5--- so far. I noticed the bag was almost empty, with only a few yogurt cups in the bottom. At Union Square, the Gimme 5 collection box is behind the Customer Service counter. You have to know it is there to use it. The box at Columbus Circle is a bit more visible; the Customer Service desk is right by the entrance and with no room behind the counter, they put the Gimme 5 box in front.

There hasn't been much hoopla about Gimme 5. I'm almost afraid that the program will not be promoted, and then quashed for lack of interest.

However, The New York Times Magazine had a "Consumed" column last week that was all about Preserve, the company that sponsors Gimme 5. The article poses a question pretty similar to one Elizabeth asked me: will I buy a product because I like its 'story' and I like the green practices of the company, even if it is plastic or more expensive?

For me the answer is yes, but only if and when I need it. I want to reward companies like Aveda and Preserve with my purchases, but the purchase will still go through the same thought process as anything else: do I truly need it, can I get it used, can I get it w/o packaging, where did it come from and where will it go when I'm done with it, etc.

Have you taken items to Gimme 5 yet? What was your experience like? Do you feel an obligation to reward companies that "go green"?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My local Whole Foods keeps the box somewhere in the back where customers don't even get to see it! Customers are supposed to bring their plastics to the Customer Service desk. How would they know to do it? I've got to speak to the manager.