It’s not that we’re not friendly, it’s just that we don’t tell other people what to do. We don’t (usually) chat to strangers on the bus, we don’t intervene in people’s private lives, and we definitely don’t tell people what we think about their personal shopping decisions. . . . do we?
Since becoming a bit of a waste fanatic, I can’t help but notice the long lines of plastic on either side of me at the checkout. It seems like everything is wrapped in plastic, clingwrap, cardboard, or styrofoam which is subsequently double bagged to be toted 20 steps to the parking lot.
Grant and I used to just buy what we liked at the supermarket. I don’t mean decades ago, I mean this past spring; it wasn’t very long ago that we shopped with complete obliviousness to the type and amount of packaging we were purchasing. So, why, as such recent converts, do we feel like we can judge everyone who is not doing what we are doing? “That lady with the single red pepper in a plastic produce bag – what a terrible person” “That man with the stack of TV dinners – blatant disregard for the environment.”
My gosh, we’ve become packaging snobs.
So this brings us to the point of politeness. Should we say something? Can I lean over and say “why did you choose to have a single pepper in a flimsy plastic bag that you are going to throw out after only one use”? Isn’t that overstepping our moral politeness as Canadians? Isn’t that interfering with someone’s personal choices? Isn’t that rude?
But maybe they don’t know. Maybe it didn’t cross their mind about the effects that the plastic bag had on the environment, and if I say something, she might think “you know, I don’t need this bag. Maybe people just need a jump start.
Grant tested this theory the other day. The man in front of him was buying two small tins of cat food, and as the cashier was bagging them Grant leaned over and said, “Do you really need that plastic bag?” To which the man answered, “Yes, I do”.
At least he tried.
I like the theory of the morsbags that I read about over at My Zero Waste. You get together with friends, make a bunch of shopping bags out of scrap fabric, and hand them out to people. I think this would probably be quite effective as you are providing a plastic alternative. “Excuse me, I happened to notice that you are getting a plastic shopping bag. If I gave you this fabric one, would you use it instead?”
So what do you think? Would you wisper something into the ear of your supermarket neighbour, or would you hold your tongue?