My Green City Life

The real world
August 1, 2007, 1:19 am
Filed under: on the town, your green lifestyle

I have been in Harry Potter land in my head for the last two days. A friend let me borrow her copy of the final Harry Potter book. I started it yesterday morning and finished it this afternoon. It was probably the fastest I’ve ever read a 600 page book in my life, but I contend that if you’re going to geek out on something, you might as well go whole hog. As you might expect, this reading marathon warped my brain a little bit. When I stopped reading and got up to do something normal like eat lunch, my mind stayed in Harry Potter land. Seeing my husband and my cats in the apartment was a bit of a shock. They didn’t belong in Harry Potter land. In fact, they were completely oblivious to Horcruxes and Imperius curses and house elves. They were Muggles!

This afternoon, I’ve been trying to return my brain to the real world. I decided a real world task would do me some good, so I picked up my shopping bag and went to the grocery store. I only needed to buy a couple of items, so I quickly made my selection and went to stand in the “six items or fewer” line. It was dinner time, so there were quite a few people in line ahead of me, and to keep my mind off Harry Potter, I watched them as they paid. As the line ahead of me shrunk, I grew more and more incredulous and annoyed. Not a single person had so many items — or so bulky an item — to warrant a cart or a basket, yet every single one of them let the cashier put their purchases in a plastic bag. Some of them were already carrying bags from purchases at other stores, bags that surely had room for their six or fewer groceries. I looked around to see customers picking up single-serving, packaging-laden, convenient “heat and eat” meals and heading for the cashiers with their one item in hand — an item that would no doubt be swathed in a plastic bag for the ride home and then tossed in the trash along with the plastic bag once the food it contained was consumed.

I was honestly shocked. Like lifting my nose out of the Harry Potter book earlier in the day, I’d been thrust into the real world while my mind remained in the happy green world where everyone is environmentally responsible. It was depressing, and I don’t really have any concluding remarks about it. I told the cashier I didn’t need a plastic bag, thanks, and I can only hope the people in line behind me witnessed it and thought about it. Perhaps they decided against the plastic bag too.

It seems like such a small action, almost worthless. I saved one plastic bag and hopefully made someone think about saving one himself. Is that the best I could have done? Is there something more one should do in a situation like that? I wanted to get on the intercom system and tell everyone to stop taking the unnecessary plastic bags and to stop buying over-packaged items and to put down all the produce and go to the farmers market for local food instead. But of course I didn’t do that. I didn’t even proselytize to anyone standing near me. I don’t want to be seen as *that crazy person* but I do want to wake people up. I think that there is a fine line between crazy and communicative.


2 Comments so far
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I’m really late in posting here, but I just stumbled on your blog today and am “catching up”. Great blog!

You know, I feel the same way sometimes, but lately, every time I take my bags the cashier will say, “Where did you get these bags, they’re great!” Then the bagger will chime in with praise for the bags. I just hope that a few people around us hear the exchange and think about it. And maybe at the next staff meeting, these employees will ask their manager about selling more canvas bags at the store or something.

Comment by Rebecca

Unfortunately, the baggers and cashiers at my grocery store are not so friendly. But I do think you are right. Setting the example, whether anyone audibly takes notice or not, is important, in my opinion. And just because someone takes their purchases home in a plastic bag or buys a microwave dinner doesn’t mean that s/he isn’t living a green life in other ways.

Comment by Danica

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