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Fat Guy

The ethics of stealing bags (and containers)

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Steven,

Some shrinkage (shoplifting, employee pilfering, waste) is built into pricing, making the cost of supplies and therefore pricing slightly higher.

Knowing that a supermarket allows for shrinkage doesn't justify my stealing a T-Bone steak because it is built into the price.

Edited to add and having nothing to do with this discussion but..., in the delis I ran we had to allow for evaporation. Since deli meats are sold by the pound, and water evaporates out of them over time, it reduces the total sales yield from a roll of bologna. We found we sold more deli meats if they were displayed sliced, but it was more expensive because of the increased loss of moisture.


Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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Is this taking of bags within the normal bounds of ethical behavior, or is it theft? Ditto for other store packaging, like deli containers at the olive bar.

Are you talking ethically or legally (yes, I can read, but others have responded very legalistically)?

In either case, you're in the clear for the reason that no one cares. It doesn't cost the store a significant amount of money; it doesn't raise prices for other customers; and the bored clerks could care less. Unless there is an injured party, you're clear.

ETA: Also, by displaying the stuff unmarked in the aisle, there's an implied license.

And PS: If I try to get a couple of produce bags and, in my haste, rip the bottoms out of a couple, have I destroyed store property?


Edited by Busboy (log)

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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By the way, I'm guessing the bags don't cost the store anything. They are emblazoned with ads. I'm guessing this pays for the bags. I wonder if the supplier with the ad is providing the advertised product with accompanying rolls of bags.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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After this discussion I envision New York Fairway markets downloading Steven's head shot and posting it at every checkout lane. :biggrin:


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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Why not just ask the store for a roll?


"The main thing to remember about Italian food is that when you put your groceries in the car, the quality of your dinner has already been decided." – Mario Batali

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By the way, I'm guessing the bags don't cost the store anything. They are emblazoned with ads. I'm guessing this pays for the bags. I wonder if the supplier with the ad is providing the advertised product with accompanying rolls of bags.

Must be a New York thing. Hereabouts, no ads on plastic produce bags in the markets where I shop.

Just to take this a step further from the purely hypothetical, Google tells me that produce bags on a roll will cost you about .2 cents apiece -- sans NYC sponsorship. Interestingly, the already open and perhaps thicker bags I identify with Harris Teeter are substantially pricier.


Edited by Busboy (log)

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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the unnecessary consumption of plastic. My personal practices re: sustainability are not extreme, but I've been trying hard to minimize my demand for non-recyclable materials, not hoard them. If you already have 100+, why do you need more?

The bags do no damage to the environment sitting in my cabinet. In New York City we have a plastic-bag recycling program, and if they actually recycle the bags that's probably better than nothing.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I'm not sure it's relevant to anything, but these bags don't come on rolls. I don't know the right name for the format but they're kind of bound like a checkbook.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Since the death of the late lamented Momo, what do you need these bags for? If you need a cheap plastic bag, surely the tote you take the haul home with would do? I don't understand why you want these bags -- 'splain, and I might have something to add.


Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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My only question is....are these bags coming from a corporate grocery store or a small local grocery store?

A regional chain.

Ok. Why does that matter?

This is just based on my personal opinion of petty theft in general. I am not a fan of large corporations....

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Today I used three of them: one to pack grapes for my wife's lunch, one to act as a trash bag in the car, and one to hold a sandwich for my son's breakfast. I don't necessarily use three every day but I do use them fairly often.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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My only question is....are these bags coming from a corporate grocery store or a small local grocery store?

A regional chain.

Ok. Why does that matter?

This is just based on my personal opinion of petty theft in general. I am not a fan of large corporations....

The Robin Hood theory of property rights?


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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My only question is....are these bags coming from a corporate grocery store or a small local grocery store?

A regional chain.

Ok. Why does that matter?

This is just based on my personal opinion of petty theft in general. I am not a fan of large corporations....

The Robin Hood theory of property rights?

Hah...to some extent you could say that.

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Today I used three of them: one to pack grapes for my wife's lunch, one to act as a trash bag in the car, and one to hold a sandwich for my son's breakfast. I don't necessarily use three every day but I do use them fairly often.

I don't understand why you don't just buy some. I use Ziploc bags sometimes - I buy them. I need liners for my kitchen garbage and, because I have switched to reusable grocery bags, no longer use the giveaway plastic bags, so I buy them.

The notion that because something comes free with your purchase makes it ok to just help yourself to as many as you like is, I believe, unethical. It's not something I would do, nor would I model that behaviour in front of my kids.

It's like parking in a disabled spot. Tacky.

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wow... people are getting very heated about this topic.

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I personally think that by including the word stealing in the title that in general the (seemimgly) ethical forum members will automatically consider the deed as such. My opinion, no, taking an item that is offered to paying customers is not stealing. Yes, stealing a candy bar is theft, however returning to the free sample table ten times is not theft. If you asked for the item, my guess is that there would not be a problem.

My local grocery store does NOT carry butchers twine the only place to get it is at the counter as a service to customers. I ask for it freqeuntly even if I do not need it for that particular meal, and would help myself if it were an option.

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One point I haven't seen here is: What sort of example are you setting for your children? Why is it okay to take some things in the store and NOT pay for them???

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But ... they're free. Is it theft if they're free? You may not be taking them for their implied intended use, but it's certainly not theft if they're giving them away sans written instructions or guidelines, right? Maybe they think it's uncool, but theft? Not in my mind. You're not depriving them of something they intended to keep.


 

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One point I haven't seen here is: What sort of example are you setting for your children? Why is it okay to take some things in the store and NOT pay for them???

There are things in the store that it's okay to take without paying for, such as free samples. Kids aren't so dumb that they can't tell the difference between a produce bag and a candy bar. If my son winds up in prison for grand larceny and says, "But dad, you took produce bags," I'll say I was wrong.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I would imagine this whole exercise has to do with driving message board traffic. It's clear that Mr. Shaw thinks there is a legal justification for taking these bags. He makes a very lawyerly argument. But he suggests in one post that they do have utility to him picking up after the dog, packing lunch etc. So, there is a perceived value to them. I would suggest the true value to him equates to what it would cost to buy the same item that gives him the same utility. Thus the replacement value of the item he is stealing is the true cost of the theft.

I'm sure if Mr. Shaw really wanted a whole case of these bags he could get them cheap. After all, he is director of a famous culinary society and I'll bet all he has to do is make a few calls and somebody would drop them off at his place toot sweet.

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I would imagine this whole exercise has to do with driving message board traffic. It's clear that Mr. Shaw thinks there is a legal justification for taking these bags. He makes a very lawyerly argument. But he suggests in one post that they do have utility to him picking up after the dog, packing lunch etc. So, there is a perceived value to them. I would suggest the true value to him equates to what it would cost to buy the same item that gives him the same utility. Thus the replacement value of the item he is stealing is the true cost of the theft.

I'm sure if Mr. Shaw really wanted a whole case of these bags he could get them cheap. After all, he is director of a famous culinary society and I'll bet all he has to do is make a few calls and somebody would drop them off at his place toot sweet.

This is an interesting point to consider actually...

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Here in England I stood next to a guy who used a pocket knife to trim of the large stump on a broccoli head.

we do select the best spuds, onions and so on, rejecting any not up to snuff.

On grazing,

how was I to know that the nut dispenser dropped 100gr each time and not the sneaky handful I tried to garner. Nuts a go go in the aisle.. :biggrin:

By the way, I am not driving message board traffic, but how about that guys and gals :unsure:


Edited by naguere (log)

Martial.2,500 Years ago:

If pale beans bubble for you in a red earthenware pot, you can often decline the dinners of sumptuous hosts.

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Let me put it this way: Would you do the same thing to a good friend of yours without asking first? How about if you did it every other time you visited? Perhaps that's not theft per se, but it's certainly a moral issue.

Or this way: Let's say the total value of what you take from the store over a year's time is 79¢. Now let's say someone else doesn't take plastic bags or containers, but once a year shoplifts a 79¢ candy bar. Would you not call that theft?

You still haven't answered my questions, counselor.


Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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I think Fat Guy has killed 2 birds with one stone here....use those extra bags to hold all of that extra ice from your ice maker. Balancing petty thievery with resourcefulness wipes the slate clean in my eyes.

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