There is always a line for free food (shirts, pens, post-it notes, little phone wallets, koozies, *plug any other product/service here*).
They're giving away useless company branded crap, stuff you'd almost never even consider needing if it wasn't free. So how does the fact that this shit's free suddenly make us take it to clutter ourspace with even if we don't need it at all?
I usually stay in hostels when backpacking. Sometimes hostels have free breakfast.
Initial reaction: "Yay! I'd love to save $$ for new experiences instead!"
Messy peanut butter jars, jam and (dairy) milk for cereal, eggs, cheap white bread high fructose corn syrup and fillers-loaded loaves of bread and bananas. I like bananas! Let's make a banana peanut butter oatmeal - that's the best nutrition we can get out of this mess today... Gotta drink coffee black though cause all milk is dairy... ugh. Oh well.
New city. New hostel. Similar free breakfast. Fresh bagless with cream, eggs (again... made me wonder how and why eggs, bread and butter have become a universal breakfast food worldwide), oranges, yogurt with nasty-looking defrozen berries, and dairy milk for coffee again.
Thing is, I try to eat plant-based and avoid animal products. Because this is a personal choice for health and ethics, not a dietary restriction - when there is free food or my friends birthday cake is cut, the standard I have willingly accepted for myself, rolls into the "ok, I have a reason to cheat now, I'll commit to my standards when it's more convenient. Next tiiiiiime!"
My father has even a worse problem - when there is a free tasting, or we have paid for a buffet - he will come for seconds and thirds, until he is beyond stuffed and can't move. Kind of understandable cause he grew up in the USSR where food was scarce, so "eat while it's there" is almost an instinct. Friends from college line up for free pizza no matter if they're engineers, or just got out of a bio class and learnt about lipids storage and breakdown (read = that pizza is no bueno for their health and digestion).
We are not homeless people who haven't eaten in days. Most of us are well-off individuals with jobs, enough means to travel the world and make good choices. Why do we act like animals who can be led into the butcher's stable in herds with a free bagel and a koozie?
Are we dumb? Are we frugal? How do we prevent ourselves from being tricked to listen to the unwanted propagandist lecture for a free t-shirt in the end, and remind our foolish reptile brain to chill and let the prefrontal cortex make decisions instead..?