Saturday, June 28, 2008

Peak Swag

Awhile back, USA Today had this article about how high prices were impacting the sports world. There was the usual traveling costs and all, but there was also this, about the promotional items they give away at minor league baseball games:

"Everything we do is oil-based. The giveaways at the ballpark are plastic and that's oil-based. Hats aren't, but I have to put them on a boat, airplane or truck. So there's some derivative of an oil byproduct in everything."

Actually, hats probably are oil-based, at least the kind they give away, which are synethic, not wool.

I thought about this while I was a recent professional conference. I swear, a lot of people go to these things just to get the swag. They aren't interested in the presentations or workshops, just in getting all the free promotional items they can. Mugs, pens, frisbees, calendars, rulers, calculators, magnets, cupholders, t-shirts, bumper stickers, etc. The vast majority of it made with petroleum.

I am trying to reduce the amount of stuff I own, so I did not pick up any of the swag. I admit I am still using the plastic Hewlett-Packard coaster I got at a previous convention, years ago. The HP logo has long worn off it, but I still use it. Other than that, I have probably never used any of the hundreds of items I've gotten as swag over the years. So why take any more?

My colleagues, however, picked up stuff for me. They were afraid I would "miss out." Nice of them to think of me. But, er, is anyone really going to wear a pin shaped like a traffic cone, with flashing LEDs?

They also complained that there was very little swag this year, compared to previous years. A reflection of the rising prices and sinking economy, perhaps?

If swag ends up a victim of peak oil, well, I won't miss it much. I realize it provides jobs for a lot of people, but what a waste.

And I bought gas today, which I don't do very often. Ever since Katrina, I fill up when the gas gauge shows half a tank...just in case. But I drive so little that I still don't buy gas very often. The bad side of that is that it makes the sticker shock worse. Gas was $4.25 gallon today. The last time I bought gas, it was under $4. Yikes.

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