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The reluctant consumer.   —   Personal

I really hate grocery shopping. The overwhelming amount of choices to make, the meal decisions, the crowds, the carts, the lines, the money spent. But the thing that gets me the most lately is the waste. When I'm in the grocery store I have a hard time seeing the food on the shelves, instead what I mostly see is landfill material. Rows and shelves and aisles of plastic jars and plastic wrappings and boxes and glass and paper and food that will spoil or wilt or rot without ever being eaten. I stand in front of the cleaning products, something that used to bring me great joy to look upon, and now all I see is rivers of chemicals and beds of spray nozzles. I no longer see mops and brooms, I see plastic and metal tube-shaped sticks being abandoned in the garbage after their usefulness has run its course. And how, oh how, did all of those sparkley containers with their consumer appealing labels and ads get to my grocery store in Portland from the factory or farm of whence it was born? Magic I'd like to think. Unfortunately, I know better. Acres of packing material and boxes reside just out of site. Large trucks running on diesel make endless trips to and fro, to and fro. And don't even get me started on the lives suffered and sacrificed so that our meat isles are not empty. This is what I see every time I go to the grocery store. Every time I fill my cart. Every time I take out the trash. Waste and death, waste and death.

I know there's recycling. But, a.) a great many things cannot be recycled b.) not everyone takes advantage of recycling, and c.) not every city or town even has the ability to recycle. I'm reminded of the time I was in a Duane Reade in my neighborhood in Brooklyn. I'd made a small purchase of one or two items and as the cashier began to open a plastic bag for my items I told her I didn't need a bag. The exchange went something like this:
Me: "Oh, I don't need a bag, thanks."
Cashier: "Why not?"
Me: "Because I live nearby and can just carry my items home without a bag. I'd rather save the bag for someone who needs it. I don't want to be wasteful."
Cashier: "Wasteful? Like saving the planet and all that crap?"
She was looking at me like I just took a shit on the counter.
Me: "Yes, like saving the planet and all that crap."
She sighs heavily and slams the bag down, her look could be described as loathsome.
Cashier: "I don't get you people, it's just a plastic bag! I don't believe in all that crap."
Me: "All what crap? Landfills? Pollution? Preserving the earth for future generations?"
Cashier: "That's right!"
Me: "Unbelievable!"

Of course, that was New York City. A city that was built on a landfill. A city whose trash cans are frequently overflowing onto the sidewalk and into the street. In a perfect world, I would have my own garden full of vegetables, fruits, and spices. I would raise chickens to provide me eggs, and I would be a complete vegetarian. I would wash my house with natural concoctions composed of vinegar and lemons, or whatever it is that natural concoctions are composed of, and I would have a compost pile so all of my uneaten food and biodegradable waste could go back into the soil. I would make my own clothes, use berry stain for lipstick and rouge, and not own 300+ DVDs. But the fact remains that I am a city girl. My thumb is about as green as the hot pink high heels on my feet, and I have barely enough interest in making myself a sandwich let alone growing everything that goes into it. I am no better at waste management than most people, I still buy the things that I want instead of the things that I need, and sometimes I don't eat all of the fruit in my basket. Every year I get better at living a more sustainable lifestyle, and eventually Adam and I would love to own a solar powered home. But for now I will continue to be disenchanted with shopping. And to make myself feel better I've stopped buying bottled water, will continue to feed the crows and the raccoons stale chips and bread, will continue to save slugs from the footfalls of man, and have stopped killing the spiders in my house unless they're in the bedroom or trying to eat my face. Then they must die. A lot.

Posted 7.10.2009 4:24:52 PM

Carl wrote:
I'd be willing to bet that cashier doesn't believe in global warming either. Or dinosaurs. Or the government conspiracy to harvest our sadness for conversion into rocket fuel that will take "them" all to their secret planet when they've used up this one.

I am taking the liberty to attach a link to a very informative video for those who choose to see it.
Posted 7/11/2009 12:31:10 PM - Carl's website
VBOT wrote:
"The Urban Homestead" by Kelly Coyne
Posted 7/12/2009 10:09:35 PM
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