I’m always amazed at how wasteful the US is compared to most of the world. We run through napkins at Starbucks and McDonalds like the Tasmanian Devil. It’s like every napkin becomes contaminated with cuddies upon making contact with our mouths and to fold it or use another part of said napkin would put us in grave danger.
But the wastefulness doesn’t stop there. We leave lights on like we’re expecting extra terrestrials to stop by and need a beacon of light to guide them in. I’m guilty of it too. I sometimes leave my television on in hotel rooms when I’m gone just to avoid the God-Awful Hotel menu station that pops up whenever you turn on a hotel TV. Wasteful, but that hotel menu station is painful to watch and good luck finding TBS again.
The contrast is stark when you travel overseas. Lights are all on timers, hotel rooms require the key to be inserted into a slot for the electricity to work in the room (which also drastically cuts down on key misplacement) and don’t even think about getting more than one napkin with any food order.
You might expect this type of miserly approach from a place low in resources. A place that might not have enough napkins to go around or operates on generators installed around the time the hula hoop came out. But the place I’m describing is London. I wouldn’t be surprised if London used ½ the electricity and paper that New York uses. Even the soda cups are smaller.
For a person visiting the US our portions and general approach to everything must seem like a stop over in Wonderland. When traveling abroad it takes a day to adjust but then you realize that unless you’re really throwing down some serious barbecue, one napkin is more than enough and your hotel doesn’t need to be illuminated for your imaginary friend (let her imagine the light J
I can’t see us changing our ways significantly anytime soon but until we stop binge eating at buffets, driving humongous cars we don’t need and wearing white sneakers with khakis, we’re going to be the butt of a lot of jokes on the international scene.
Not to worry though I’m spreading coolness everywhere I go to counter the khaki effect…well me and Mos Def.