Jewish Journal


by Annie Korzen

September 26, 2011 | 2:32 pm

One of the most disturbing moments in any film is at the end of Titanic when Gloria Stuart flings the priceless blue diamond necklace into the water.  I know we’re supposed to be moved by that extravagant, romantic gesture:  Instead - thriftaholic that I am - I am horrified by the reckless wastefulness.  So you can imagine how challenging it is for someone like me to live in our “disposable” culture.  Here are just a few of my pet peeves.

• Throw-away cigarette lighters, which were invented by Satan.
• You are given a tall glass of water in a restaurant before asking for it, and it is surreptitiously refilled all night long – even in drought-prone places like Los Angeles.
• Theater programs are glanced at once, then thrown in the trash. (I always return mine to the usher.)
• You buy five pairs of socks, and come home with five useless plastic hanger/hook gizmos which go right into the garbage – unless you happen to have a hanging-sock closet.
• I’d like to do away with paper plates, paper napkins, and plastic utensils. It’s cheaper, greener, and a lot more inviting to use pretty dishes, flatware, and linens that you pick up at tag sales.  Plus, wine tastes a lot better in a real glass than in a paper or plastic cup – even to my underdeveloped palate.  True, you have to wash everything afterwards, but that’s what spouses, partners, kids, and house guests are for.

Excessive climate control makes me nuts.  I resent having to bring a sweater to the movies in July, and then sweltering in a department store in December.  It’s time to scale back on these not-so-comfortable “comforts.”  I will admit I feel differently if I’m in a stifling heat wave in France.  Europeans think air-conditioning is something only used by “spoiled Americans.”  They even sneered when I asked for some ice in my drink.  Let me tell you something, Mr. Fancypants Euro-man: on a scorching summer day, a lukewarm Campari and soda doesn’t really do the trick!

Hotels can be criminally wasteful.

• Every towel is washed, bleached, and dried after one day’s use.
• The air-conditioning is left on all day, even in empty rooms.
• Empty mini-fridges are running constantly
• A raging waterfall blasts out of the shower.

The worst offenders are in Vegas. I love Steve Wynn, and I love the over-the-top fabulousness of his hotels, but I think his next venture should be an eco-friendly place called The Palace Green.

And then there’s the packaging nightmare.  I bought some low-fat Jarlsberg cheese at Whole Foods that was encased in a non-recyclable plastic container so thick I had to use a hammer and chisel to bust it open.  I prefer the old-fashioned neighborhood deli (if you can find one) where they slice the cheddar onto a piece of waxed paper - which I use again to wrap half-used tomatoes.

No country is as lavish as we are with electric lights.  We just leave them burning burning burning all the time.  In Europe, when you enter a public restroom you turn on the light, and when you leave – guess what? – you turn it off.  Not too difficult.

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Annie Korzen is a comedy writer and performer. Her humorous essays have been printed in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and more. She has...

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