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Bluff The Listener

BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis. We're playing this week with Jordan Carlos, Helen Hong and Roy Blount, Jr. And here again is your host at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.


Thank you, Bill. Thank you so much. Right now...


SAGAL: ...It's time for the WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME Bluff the Listener game. Call 1-888-WAITWAIT to play our game on the air.

Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

RACHEL CIANCI: Hi. This is Rachel Cianci calling from Keene, N.H.

SAGAL: Hey, how are things in Keene?

CIANCI: They're going all right over here.

SAGAL: All right. And what do you do there in Keene?

CIANCI: I'm a student at Keene State College and a rock climbing instructor.

SAGAL: You're a rock climbing instructor. That's cool. So you're out there - are you, like, actually on the rocks, teaching people to climb on the rocks?

CIANCI: I personally climb outdoors on the rocks, but I teach it indoors.

SAGAL: Right. It's probably - you lose fewer students that way.


SAGAL: Very important. Well, Rachel, welcome to the show. You're going to play our game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Bill, what is Rachel's topic?

KURTIS: It's not easy being green.

SAGAL: Everybody is worried about the imminent global environmental catastrophe. And by everyone, I mean somehow not everyone.


SAGAL: Nonetheless, this week, we heard about somebody doing their part to help but having it backfire. Our panelists are going to tell you about it. Pick the one who's telling the truth, and you'll win our prize - the WAIT WAIT-er of your choice on your voicemail. You ready to play?

CIANCI: Yes, sir.

SAGAL: All right. First, let's hear from Helen Hong.

HELEN HONG: We can all agree that certain environmental initiatives are just a big pain in the butt. But some are a bigger pain than others. Just ask the inmates at Northern Vermont Correctional Facility who recently had to contend with the particular pain in the butt that is recycled toilet paper.


HONG: The warden of the prison apparently got a rock-bottom deal on the product...


HONG: ...Which is made from a blend of recycled office paper, packing material and cardboard. Some prisoners refused to sit through this bum deal...


HONG: ...Discovering that when entire rolls of the abrasive booty wipes were repeatedly wetted, then dried, the toilet paper solidified to the point that it could be used to file away prison bars.


HONG: It took only two weeks and four rolls of recycled toilet paper for a handful of prisoners to Shawshank their way out of the facility.


HONG: All of the escaped inmates were recaught at a nearby convenience store attempting to shoplift rolls of Charmin.


SAGAL: A prison break inspired and abetted by some recycled toilet paper. Your next story of an environmental screw-up comes from Roy Blount, Jr.

ROY BLOUNT JR: The East West Market in Vancouver, British Columbia, wanted to do something about the proliferation of plastic trash that is littering the Earth, choking whales and even coursing through human intestines. However, the market didn't want to upset its shoppers by denying them plastic bags, so it provided bags emblazoned with embarrassing messages.


BLOUNT JR: Into the Weird Adult Videos, The Colon Care Co-Op...


BLOUNT JR: ...And Doctor Toew's Wart Ointment Wholesale.


BLOUNT JR: However, far from being shamed by the bags, shoppers found them cute and rushed to collect the whole set.


BLOUNT JR: You know what went wrong? Those messages weren't gross enough. To be sufficiently offensive to Canadians, those bags should say, I heart see-through vomit...


BLOUNT JR: ...Or, gag on this, Mother Nature...


BLOUNT JR: ...Or, make America great again.


SAGAL: A store tries to discourage bag use with embarrassing slogans on the bag, but people love them so much they grab extras. Your last story of good intentions turned bad comes from Jordan Carlos.

JORDAN CARLOS: Fresh out of Silicon Valley, a new startup is aiming to create a sustainable economy out of the clothing we see the least but throw away the most. Using the ride-share model, UnderShare (ph) encourages consumers to keep their briefs, boxers, panties and well-supporting bras in the reuse economy. For a monthly fee, users can search an interactive map for unmentionables that random strangers would otherwise toss. That's right; your next pair of undies may be closer than you think.


CARLOS: Founder Ryan Tetois (ph) says the app is perfect for anyone who's faced the humiliation of waking up in a stranger's bed only to wear the same BVDs on back-to-back days. Grab a pre-owned pair on your way to work and keep it moving.


CARLOS: There's been one big problem, though. UnderShare has received hundreds of complaints and one lawsuit from customers whose partners are not happy to find underwear with a stranger's name on it in their home. Said one two-star review in the App Store, my partner said, Brad (ph)? Who the hell is Brad?


CARLOS: I said, I don't know, but I like his underwear.


SAGAL: All right. One of these stories of an environmental initiative backfiring is true. Is it, from Helen Hong, prison tries to use recycled toilet paper and ends up inspiring an escape; from Roy Blount, Jr., a store tries to dissuade people from using plastic bags by putting embarrassing slogans on them and people just want more of them; or, from Jordan Carlos, a system in which people can reuse and share underwear leads to a lot of difficult moments at home? Which of these is the real story of a environmental initiative that did not work out?

CIANCI: I'm going to go with the second story.

SAGAL: You're going to go with Roy's story - that's with the novelty bags...


SAGAL: ...In Canada?


SAGAL: All right. Your choice is Roy's story about the reusable bags. To find out the correct answer, we spoke to someone familiar with the true story.

DAVID LEE KWEN: It's not to embarrass them. It's just to remind them that there are other alternatives rather than using a single-use plastic bag.

SAGAL: That was...


SAGAL: ...David Lee Kwen. He's the owner of the East West Market in Vancouver, the person who printed up those embarrassing bags that everybody wanted more of. Congratulations, Rachel. You got it right. You earned a point for Roy. You've won our prize, the voice of your choice on your voicemail. Thank you so much for playing with us today.

CIANCI: Thank you so much, Peter.


SAGAL: Thank you, Rachel. Take care.


JAMES BROWN: (Singing) Ain't no drag. Papa's got a brand-new bag. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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