It’s not easy bein’ green.
I must confess, I am not an environmentalist by nature. But after careful consideration I figured I would give ecology a go, beyond the mandatory bottle and can recycling demands of my co-op.
When I go grocery shopping, I’ve started using my many free cloth bags that I’ve accumulated from various street fairs, my husband’s job and a couple of clothing stores that encourage the demise of the plastic menace. I am also making a conscious effort to remember to fold one up and carry it in my handbag, in case I make an impromptu Gristede’s pit stop for milk or bread. Sure I want to help maintain the planet, but I’m also in it for the acclaim, which I thought came with the territory.
When I was still a plasti-holic, I experienced eco-envy of those ahead of me on line at the aforementioned Gristede’s, as well as C-Town, Key Food and Food Emporium, with their coveted Whole Foods “I’m Not A Plastic Bag” bags or even the less notable cloth equivalent.
These consumers-cum-environmentalists seemed to hold their heads up a little higher, and walk out of the supermarket a little taller for their noble efforts to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. I swear I saw the usually Is it time for my break, yet? cashiers embrace these admirable customers with their eyes, grateful for being kept from becoming forced accomplices in this crime against nature.
I wanted membership into this elite, revered group that was saving the planet one food-shopping trip at a time.
Okay, the first few times after making my decision, I forgot the recycle bags when I went to the store. My bad.
When I finally remembered to bring the cloth totes, I apparently was not swift enough whipping them out at checkout. Suddenly, it seemed that cashiers, who I never recalled as being that efficient, moved with the speed of Quick Draw McGraw. By the time I had my good-for-the-environment bags out, my groceries were packed in plastic, sitting on the counter and ready for me to be on my way.
The first time this happened I was going to skulk away, chalking it up to a failed attempt because I had not yet honed my eco-skills. But wait. I had finally made certain to bring the bags. I was on a mission—only one person, perhaps, with only two bags of groceries, but according to Gore & the Gang, it could make all the difference.
“Oh no,” I said, standing there like Oliver Twist, but instead of an empty bowl outstretched, I had my empty cloth bag. Nodding to the fait accompli before me, I added, “I don’t want those.”
No welcome smile or admiring gaze for tree-hugging me. I thought the cashier was going to take my bag, yank it over my head, lead me to the automatic doors and, with her foot on my behind, push me out on to 86th Street. Needless to say, the customers behind me, who had to wait for my groceries to be re-bagged, didn’t have my back either.
I’ve since learned to announce the presence of my cloth carryalls from the get-go. Yet, still no “you-go-eco-girl” fist bumps. In fact, cashiers even make me pack my bags myself. (I guess if you BYOB, you can just DIY.)
If “green is good,” then why are so many being environmentally unfriendly to me? Perhaps it’s time to start using Fresh Direct.
Lorraine Duffy Merkl’s debut novel, Fat Chick, by The Vineyard Press, is coming soon.
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