First example, from Harrods

Today I'm not writing about England or America.  I'm writing about an irksome trend among retailers:  the practice of printing ridiculously long paper receipts, even when the customer has only purchased one simple item.

Am I the only one who's noticed that after every transaction at a cash register lately, the cashier hands over a receipt so long and bulky that it often needs to be rolled up or folded over several times just to be crammed into your purse or carry bag?  This happens a lot in grocery stores, particularly in America where they also print out a long strip of coupons to accompany your actual receipt (the coupon part doesn't happen much in the UK, though).  What bugs me most is when I buy one small item like a pack of gum or pair of socks, and I still receive a receipt a foot long - or more.

Pardon me, Mr. Giant Retailer, but I thought we were supposed to be green and earth-friendly and not use excessive paper where it isn't justified.  I mean, a lot of folks don't even print work email unless it's really needed in hard copy form.  Why are retailers exempt from the movement to conserve resources when possible?

The photos I've posted here were received this week while running errands in London.  One is from discount store TK Maxx (same as TJ Maxx in the States) where I bought ONE pair of knee socks.  The other is from Harrods department store, where I bought ONE tube of Lancome eye cream.  As seen in the photos, each receipt was for one item (no warranty info or other junk involved) and each receipt is 12 inches long.  A FOOT, y'all!

This is a disturbing trend in retail business.  There's a plague of humorously long (but seriously wasteful) paper receipts, and no one seems to care.  Walk into a modern office and some people scowl at you for wasting a few sheets of paper in a photocopier accident.  You might even get dressed-down by some militant coworkers for tossing a slip of paper into a bin that isn't labeled recycling - yet everyone's OK with miles upon miles of register receipt paper going in bins everywhere.  Why?

I know there are more important issues in life than the length of a store receipt, obviously, but that's not my point.  Even small things can make big differences.  Why don't people ask local retailers or corporate giants to cut back their excessive paper waste?

If it wasn't for stuff like this I'd have nothing to do all day.  I live to point-out inefficient and hypocritical things in life.  I've got to run now - I have a letter of complaint to write...
An example from TKMaxx

Photo 1 (close-up)

Photo 2 (wide shot) can you spot the heart?

I was walking to London's Hammersmith station along Great West Road yesterday, and due to the blustery, cold weather, was mostly looking at the ground as I walked.  As I stepped over bits of sidewalk that I've tread many times, I noticed something lovely:  unusual hearts were hidden in the text of some metal street plates.  (I took the above photos to show you an example.) 

When I showed my British partner my photos, he pointed out that the "heart" is actually a sort of logo for the British Standards Institution (or BSI).  And of course, when I came home and looked it up, I saw that he was correct. 

The BSI Group was founded as the Engineering Standards Committee in London in 1901.  The "heart" I saw is their "Kitemark" created in 1903 as a symbol to identify products made to meet BSI' specifications.  It was called their "Kitemark" because the shape of the graphic - an uppercase B (for British) on its back, above an S (for standard), enclosed by two lines, looks a bit like a kite.  

The Kitemark became a registered trademark in 1903, making it one of the oldest product marks in the world still in regular use.

I prefer to call it a Heartmark, because the heart is a much older (and prettier) mark, also still in regular use, I believe...


Happy Valentine's Day everyone.