I’ve been collecting pull tabs from soda cans for several months (maybe since the start of this year), and despite knowing that the effort is virtually pointless, I continue collecting the tabs – why? Let me explain.
My son has been involved in Boy Scouts for years, and sometime last year I was approached by one of the mothers in the troop, asking me if I saved the pull tabs from the sodas I seem to always have in my hand when I’m at the scout meetings. I laughed and said (too quickly, in hind-sight) “Of course not, why would I?” She was taken aback, and explained that her daughter’s Girl Scout Troop collects them for charity. I laughed and said “Why?” “To help sick kids!” I was dismissive, I said “Why not save the entire can? Why focus on just the pull tab?” She explained that there was more metal in the pull tab than there was in the entire can – I said that wasn’t true. She then said “Well, the tabs are easier to collect than the whole can.” and I said “But there’s more aluminum in the entire can than in the pull tabs.”
The conversation ended, awkwardly, and I felt bad. I should have taken the time to explain my position better, and I certainly shouldn’t have laughed.
So I started collecting pull tabs, with the idea being I’d somehow make it up to her by handing her a baggie full of pull tabs. A month-later, I handed her a snack baggie filled with pull tabs. She was surprised, and thankful – she had apparently forgotten the exchange the previous month. But I kept saving them.
I kept saving them because I had gotten in the habit. I’ve long since stopped handing over baggies filled with pull tabs, now I just keep collecting them for myself. Every time I snap one-off, I am reminded of the exchange, and I think to myself I need to be a bit more patient, a bit more restrained when someone says something I know to be wrong. I’ll probably stop at some point, but now it is an automatic reaction, and it is a constant reminder to be a better person.
If you are curious about “proof” that the pull tab redemption rumors are false, look no further than the comprehensive post over at snopes.com.