Lauer ‘On the Prowl for Victims’ in Environmental Crusade

Be careful where you shop for groceries, for behind every canned soup display may be lurking "Today" show host Matt Lauer, ready to corner you on camera and demand to know whether you're using plastic, paper, or "environmentally-friendly" canvas bags.

That's what Lauer did for a January 25 segment to wrap up the four-day "Today Goes Green" series, which showed the hosts carpooling to work (once), changing one light bulb in one of their homes, and canceling unwanted catalog subscriptions online.

But for the grand finale, Lauer got in the face of the American grocery shopper in a segment filmed in a New York City Food Emporium. He pestered shoppers with tidbits about the environmental destruction caused by plastic and paper grocery bags.

"I'm on the prowl for victims, converts in our growing movement," Lauer said shamelessly, as if bothering people while they're shopping is cute. "Do you have any idea how many plastic bags you accumulate in the average month?" he asked one unsuspecting female shopper.

"A lot, a lot," she admitted. "Probably during the given week maybe five, at least."

Lauer lamented that 12 million barrels of oil are used each year in the production of plastic bags. He didn't mention that only amounts to 0.3 percent of the oil imported into the United States each year.

He didn't mention the possibilities for reusing plastic or paper bags. He only suggested they could be brought back to the store. But they also make great home trash bags, sacks for carrying lunches, or even cheap gift wrap.

"Do you always get plastic bags?" Lauer demanded of a man carrying his groceries in plastic. "No I don't normally. I usually bring a, I have one of those," the man said, pointing to Lauer's stash of "Today" show-branded canvas bags. "Yeah but I was lazy this morning so I rushed."

The roving host even bought a few of the reusable bags available for sale at Food Emporium, which he later passed on to co-hosts Ann Curry and Al Roker on the "Today" show set, where, for some unknown reason, they were surrounded by probably hundreds of fresh paper bags. Nonetheless, Ann Curry triumphantly declared she would "save the world!"

The "Today Goes Green" series was supposed to be a light-hearted way to encourage viewers to be more environmentally friendly. But the fact that the hosts made jokes and acted silly during the segments didn't make their "green" advocacy reports any more accurate or fair.