Monday, May 31, 2010

Paying for Bags: Maybe a Good Idea?

It's a truism: air travel ain't fun.

Perhaps a couple of decades ago or so, flying was a relatively pleasant experience. Back then, security checks were generally quick and easy, packing whatever you wanted was commonplace, and need a pack of playing cards? well the airline often provided them (and newspapers, and blankets, and peanuts...) at no charge.

Now, you have to get to the airport at least an hour early in order to ensure you can get through the security line on tine, many airlines charge you for checking your bags, and playing cards?, well, you're lucky if you get a morsel of food for free, let alone 52 pieces of glossed paper with markings on them for a time killing game of rummy.

One positive side effect of all this, however, is that, scientifically speaking, flying lighter helps reduce the expense of fuel and thus making the trip more efficient. It reasons to say that every ounce of weight that is kept off the plane means the less amount of fuel that is needed to keep the plane flying. Pack less, save fuel.

As consumers, we have to keep in mind that despite the annoyance of paying for bag fees, perhaps we're making a small dent in the amount of fuel being burned. And burning less fuel is always a good thing...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Cookie Wars

I have a soft spot, sweet tooth, special love, whatever you want to call it, for chocolate chip cookies. I generally eat them at least once a day.
Over the past couple of years I've gone back and forth in trying to find just the right cookie that accomplishes multiple personal goals. When I buy cookies, I look for ones that are:
  • Affordable: I'm not a cookie snob, per se, just looking for something I can enjoy. I am, however, always interested in saving money when I can, so I don't necessarily need to go with the high end luxury brands

  • Tasty: Again, basic chocolate chip cookies satisfy me just as much as the fancier brands, so as long as the cookies taste good, I'm on board.

  • Packaged Properly: This has been the Holy Grail of my search. I hate having to buy cookies that come in plastic cartons that are not recyclable. It's just such a waste, environmentally speaking and it's something that I would like to avoid where possible.

Now for my thoughts on a few of the major brands that can be found in most markets...

Nabisco's Chips Ahoy and Keebler's Chips Deluxe, among others, are guilty of having wasteful packaging. For each brand, a thin plastic sleeve surrounds a rigid plastic carton. Quite shameful. It's unfortunate, too, because I happen to enjoy both brands of cookies, and they both fall on the cheaper end of the cookie spectrum (I think Chips Deluxe may be the cheapest of all major brands), but I just don't want to have to live with the guilt of throwing away packaging that will sit in a landfill for thousands of years just so I can get my sugar fix.

Fortunately, I have found two options that are affordable, tasty, and packaged properly:

  1. Famous Amos: These cookies come in a cardboard, recyclable (or at least biodegradable) box and a foil bag which is at least tolerable. The cookies are really good, and the price is a bit higher than Chips Deluxe and Chips Ahoy, but not dramatically so.

  2. Trader Joe's Crispy Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies: Though I don't necessarily think these are the best tasting of all the cookie options, they are satisfying, they don't break the bank, and they come in a recyclable (and/or reusable) plastic bowl, which is a pretty good alternative to the non-recyclable packaging mentioned earlier.
So if you're like me... a cookie lover with a conscience(?)... I'd suggest Famous Amos and Trader Joe's brand cookies. But if you have any feedback about other brands that meet these criteria that I should try out, feel free to drop a comment. That'd be sweet!