Modern Times · Reality

Throwing Your Money Away!

Two Tales About Packaging

Brian trying to keep a straight face whilst drinking from an empty coffee mug.
Brian trying to keep a straight face whilst drinking from an empty coffee mug.

Brian was my partner and here he is, drinking a coffee at Spessart service station in Southern Germany. The reason he’s pulling a face is because he’s put too much milk in it. You see, at a cafe like this, you get given a little aluminium topped beaker with milk in it. Now since he’s bought all of this milk, all of it he will use.

Regardless of its effect.

He doesn’t like too much milk in his coffee. He also drinks coffee with sugar when he drinks coffee that he’s bought. Why? Because he bought the stuff and won’t throw it away unused. He feels that throwing it away is like throwing his money away. Yet for him it’s not so nice to drink when there’s too much milk in it.

Only, this is forgetting that the stuff will be eaten. Drunk, consumed or whatever. In personal terms, by the time he’s finished his coffee, he’s lighter by three euros. Whilst the cafe owner has the money, Brian has neither coffee nor the money he spent on it. What’s more, by evening I know he’ll be wanting more!

So did Brian throw his money away when he bought that coffee? Not really, after all he had the pleasant experience. And whilst he doesn’t remember it with the vividness that I recall the scene, it’s still something he remembers.

Was that worth three euros? Probably, yes. Only that’s all that’s left of those three euros. They didn’t purchase anything solid like a pencil or a doorknob. Nor was it used to invest in any savings or that kind of thing. Brian will never see those euros or that coffee ever again.

It’s all gone.

A cup of coffee on a German train, this time, full ones. With Jasper.
A cup of coffee on the Berlin train, this time, full ones. With Hendrik.

And just to show he’s not the only one, here’s a picture of a cup of coffee I bought for the train home. The coffee, and everything else has gone. Money included. In my little world, that money vanished. The coffee cup is in the bin by the side of the table in that railway compartment.  It’ll have been cleared away and dumped months ago.

It’s a little like the food I buy at my local supermarket. Most of it’s packaged in some way or other. All that packaging adds expense (and ease of course). Nevertheless, it all winds up in the bin. That means you’re spending a significant part of your grocery bill buying the containers it comes in. How much money are you putting straight into the bin once you get home?

Which is one reason I buy a lot of raw vegetables: they come wrapped in stuff that I can compost! Even so, there’s little to show for a cauliflower once it’s seen the plate.

So just consider that money like this is in effect put straight into the bin. It sounds stupid, only just think that the next time you chuck the plastic dish that your salad came in. Not much, but over time, it’ll add up.

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