10 Things That Need to Go Away
We would all be better off ditching engagement rings, tipping, and more
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 15, 2011 2:44 PM CDT
Engagement rings need to go away, writes Emily Yoffe.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – In the spirit of spring cleaning, the Washington Post asked 10 writers to nominate one thing “we'd all be better off tossing out this spring.” Their ideas:

  • Engagement rings: “Here's a secret that the folks at De Beers don't want young people to know: All you need to do to become officially engaged is tell everyone, ‘We're getting married!’” writes Emily Yoffe. “So, to encourage more marriages, reduce materialism, and further the equality of the sexes, I say let's chuck the engagement ring.”
  • Smartphones: Sure, they’re useful—“this winter, I watched the events in Cairo's Tahrir Square unfold in real time using Twitter and Al Jazeera Mobile”—but they lead to a lack of real-life interaction, Baratunde Thurston writes. For example: “I can't tell you the names of all three neighbors on my building's floor."

  • Tipping: Tipping doesn’t actually ensure proper service, it “breeds brown-nosers and backslappers who … don't see themselves as part of a team and instead hustle for the maximum payout,” writes Derek M. Brown. “As a food service industry professional, I believe we deserve a decent hourly wage, not the exogenous portion of the bill hung over our heads.”
  • Leftovers: “Americans waste food—quite a bit of it,” writes Kate Sheppard. One study found that most households toss 14% of the food they purchase. “This is costly for the planet, since all of that food ends up decomposing in landfills and producing methane,” she writes. “Most consumers could use more education about food refrigeration and storage.”
  • Democracy: “Let's dump it; toss it on the scrap heap of history. The concept remains worthy, but the word is rapidly being exhausted of all residual value,” writes Ted Koppel. “Truth be told, our government's commitment to democracy in other countries is almost whimsically inconsistent … The misappropriation of the word is so great as to be silly.”
Click for the complete list or check out 16 phrases that should also disappear.