Among the items are super soft micro cleaning cloths for eyeglasses, tons of ball point pens, a pass case, white board markets, correction tape, cable organizers and a dehydrated dish towel that plumps up to full size once you get it wet.
One of my students is married to a doctor and, on occasion, she has handed off portions of gifts that have been given to her husband. Some of the gifts she shares with me are from patients who give him case-size portions of various food items. She's given me fruit jellies, melons, and dried sweet potato. She's also give me notepads and pens before. A few weeks ago, she also gave me some facial tissues that her husband had been inundated with by companies selling allergy medication.
I mentioned to her that I could make use of the items she gave me and would be glad to take her "cast-offs". Today, she brought a small shopping bag stuffed with the assortment above. All of these items are freebies given to the doctor by various companies that want him to prescribe or recommend their products to patients. While this may look like bribery, I'm guessing it's more about brand name recognition.
One of my other students works for a pharmaceutical company and she spends a lot of her time visiting hospitals, clinics, etc. and hawking her company's wares. A lot of what she's encouraging nurses, doctors, and medical professionals to recommend are nutritional supplements. Her company spends a fair amount of their resources taking beneficial components of naturally occurring substances and extracting them to put into pills, powders or liquids so people can ingest them more efficiently on a regular basis.
After receiving this bag of doctor swag from my student, I couldn't help but wonder just how much her husband receives and how much is wasted. He's a single doctor with a single clinic and the amount of stuff he gets overflows such that he, his wife, her family, and his staff couldn't possibly use it all. My student gave some of it to me, but I'm guessing there is far more piling up in a corner somewhere. The way in which business is done in this way must contribute greatly to the wasting of resources in developed countries. How much oil is used on unwanted pens? How many trees are cut down to make gift boxes for those pens? It's a shame, really, but there's not much to be done about it. Still, I feel a little better knowing that I can either use these things or pass them along to someone else who can.