everybody's favorite single-use plastic

Discussion in 'Howdy there!' started by breadtab, May 5, 2020.

  1. breadtab

    breadtab occlupanid

    Hi folks, I'm Jack (sometimes also called Bread or Tib Tabs). I found my way here from tumblr, used to follow jumpingjacktrash--no relation. :P I'm a writer and I like to play Minecraft and read fanfiction.
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  2. TheSeer

    TheSeer 37 Bright Visionary Crushes The Doubtful

    Hullo hullo! What kind of things do you write?
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  3. breadtab

    breadtab occlupanid

    Mostly science fiction, fantasy, fanfiction (several fandoms) and long-winded emails to my therapist. ;) (I kid, but my therapist complimenting those emails is one of the things that keeps me going as a writer.) I've got one novel about aliens that I've been working on for just about ten years now. Whatever else is going on, I'm always writing that one.

    I actually have the first chapter of an Avatar: The Last Airbender fic posted on ff.net, if you or anyone else is interested. (Be warned, though: it left off on a cliffhanger and I don't know when I'm going to update this one. XD)
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  4. Mercury

    Mercury 17 Quicksilver Scribe Tramples The Unrepentant

    Just wanted to pop by your intro thread to admire your username. It's one of those things it would never occur to me that someone would use as an internet handle, and I'm strangely charmed that someone in fact did -- with a really nicely composed matching icon, too! (Is there a story behind that you'd be okay with sharing?)
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  5. breadtab

    breadtab occlupanid

    Thank you! :D I'm happy to share the story, though there's not a lot to it.

    I started collecting bread tabs a couple years ago when I was super depressed. We had like a hundred of the things accumulating in a drawer in the kitchen, and one day I thought, "I like these. These make me happy." There wasn't a lot that sparked joy for me at that time. So I decided to collect them. That spiraled into a special interest, and now I have a whole jar.



    Not too long after that, I felt the need to "start over" on the internet, make some new accounts and change usernames on others to match. I wanted to steer away from human names. (At the time, I didn't really know why, but in hindsight it was gender dysphoria.) I thought I could do a quirky noun-based name instead. "What's an unusual noun that means something to me?" I asked. Answer: bread tabs. In the moment, I was just being goofy--little did I know, but the name would actually become meaningful to me.

    It turns out bread tabs are a kind of unique phenomenon in the world. It's like the lovechild of clothing tags and plastic bottle caps ran away to join the circus. They're a very common fastener with a very specific use: holding plastic bags closed. Outside of that, they really aren't useful for much. The main appeal seems to be that they're easy for machines to put onto bags and can be printed with expiration dates.

    They're a single-use plastic product which takes a long time to deteriorate but is hard to recycle, both because of how small they are and because they're made of polystyrene. Technically, they're designed to be reusable, but almost never are in practice because they come with perishable foods in non-reusable dirt-cheap plastic bags. They're practically impossible to remove or reapply one-handed. Most people recognize them, but they're almost universally considered trash. They're hardly ever even repurposed in arts and crafts. (The plastic is really crappy.) They come in hundreds of shapes and sizes and a dozen colors, but remain a distinct, recognizable category of items. And the majority of them, across the world, are made by just two companies. The company that invented them has marketing that looks like this:


    (That is literally a high-speed automatic bread tab machine. High tech! Cutting-edge science!)

    It just really blows me away how these things exist. Everyone has them. (Unless you live somewhere with a polystyrene ban--hilariously, in the year or so since I last visited their website, ol' Kwik Lok Co. has launched a plant-based "Eco" product line, plus a recycling program in Australia.) Practically no one wants them! Most people don't even consciously think about bread tabs; they're the plastic equivalent of a tomato stem. They're just such a weird little artifact of mass production and convenience. And yet, in their own cheap plastic way, they're rather pretty and collectible.

    Whoops, slipped into infodumping there. XD I'm glad you like the profile pic. I had fun making that. Around last June, I came across that red bread tab with the heart in it and was inspired to try and create a Pride flag. Sadly, I have yet to find a purple tab. (This cool art project is the only evidence I have that they exist.)

    There's one bread-tab-related source of entertainment on the web that I always recommend checking out, regardless of your actual level of interest in bread tabs: www.horg.com.
    Last edited: May 11, 2020
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  6. HonestlyVan

    HonestlyVan a very funny person who never tells jokes

    This is legitimately so interesting to me because we don't use bread tabs over here, we use a closure with one or two wires wrapped in plastic -- I didn't know what a breadtab was until I came across Horg.com on Tumblr.
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  7. Mercury

    Mercury 17 Quicksilver Scribe Tramples The Unrepentant

    I never knew all that about bread tabs and I feel enriched for learning it. (No, seriously, it's interesting!) That you for sharing all that, your story behind your name is also cool. I love finding out about all the little things that end up resonating with people.
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  8. Acey

    Acey time has the power to bind us too close

    No need to apologize, infodumping tends to be very well-received here and yours was super fascinating! :D
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