Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Care Packages

            The long days of studying, eating, sleeping, repeat. College gets to be a drag. All you can think about are your Mother’s cookies you lived off in the summer. The candy bars you just can’t find in Ann Arbor. And that toothbrush you left at home. Summer seems so long ago, even if it’s only been a month. All you need is something to break the monotony… wait…what’s that in my mailbox? A slip of paper? I have a package?! NICE!

            “Care Packages” are one of the best things somebody can do for a college student. Whether you’re a family member or a friend, there’s always something you can send that depressed college student living in library isolation to make their day, no, week. Well, depending on their work load maybe you could even make their month with a few simple candy bars.
            However, as an environmentalist I have to decide if that perk of junk food really outweighs the damage to the environment it causes. The amount of energy used to ship just a few candy bars is high. Carbon-dioxide is released into the atmosphere to ship the candy. Energy is used to create packaging for the bars. And even more is used by humans to make the shipping possible. Arguably this creates jobs in a tough world, but is it still worth it? I could have bought just a fine candy bar that was already here in Ann Arbor.
            Arie from Zingerman’s has a similar situation. In class he handed out those mini candy bars. They were delicious. But I noticed the chocolate was made in Colombia. Why not chocolate made in the US? I couldn’t help but think about how far that chocolate had traveled, and how much carbon it poured into the atmosphere, and where the other ingredients may have come from. The more I thought about it, the more guilty I felt for eating it. But it was delicious, and free, and already there, so I continued. However, I’ll think twice about actually buying this candy bar. To me, the environmental cost outweighs the actual benefits of just a little more satisfaction.
I feel gluttonous enough. I still eat in the dorms just like everybody else. Trays and trays of food down the gullet everyday. I don’t need any more food.  I especially don’t need to be eating fancy chocolate from Colombia. And when it comes to my favorite candy bar from home, I’ve realized I don’t need that either. The more I think about it, the more I realize how little I actually need.
I think most Americans could look at their diets and see how gluttonous they are. How much food do you waste? How much less could you eat to stay every bit as alive as we were when you ate 10 times that amount? Would you even notice after a while? What can YOU change?

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