I began writing this post before Coles and Woolworths got with the times and deleted plastic bags from free supply at their stores, so the first part is from a few months back. Now, being in France and seeing what they’re doing here to minimise their global footprint, I feel more of a sense of judgement now than ever. We’re not doing enough in Australia. We could do more. Will post about France’s efforts at a later date, but for now:
I often wonder if anyone else is as perplexed by the stupidity of the human race as I am. And, by absolutely no means am I out doing everything that I can to save the planet, however I do try to use the least amount of plastic I can, absolutely refusing to do the shopping with plastic bags. If I forget my reusables, I find a box or just use a trolley to transport to the car. Call me naïve, but I’ve come to believe this should be standard practise.
Recently, however, I’ve been unable to contain myself, erupting in a fountain of verbal vomit whilst in the supermarket line. Call me pedantic, but watching other grown adults doing absurd things like putting ONE BOX OF CHOCOLATES in an environmentally unfriendly non-biodegradable plastic bag gets to me in a didactic sort of way. When we’re running out of renewable resources, when the beautiful world we’ve been granted use of continues to be diminished by us Homo sapiens, and then I witness that sort of lunacy as part of the reason WHY all of this is even happening, it really gets me down. So, I have been brazenly confronting the handful of people I’ve seen do such things, in an attempt to get them thinking more profoundly about their actions. People always make comments about not being able to make changes as one single person (particularly when it comes to “reasons for eating a vegetarian diet” i.e “yeah, but as if one person among the millions of people in the world can actually affect change” is what they say, but hello, think about figures like Nelson Mandela, who started small. So many great people have started small and made positive changes! It IS possible!) however, I just hope that maybe some day, one upfront comment from a stranger in the queue might actually work.
Of course, since I started my rolling commentary of random people’s abuse of the environment happening in the shopping queue, some changes have actually occurred. Clap clap, Giant Cooperation! You made ONE SMALL CHANGE. And then. How horrible it was to witness the reaction of people that are older than me. I’m talking baby boomers and older. OUTRAGED, that free detrimental-for-the-earth plastic was no longer available. What the devil am I going to carry my shopping home in? HELLO!? Have the rest of us not already been using our own bags? Since when is this something new and disturbing and above all, NOT possible to do? I find this utterly perplexing.
Anyway, I was involved in a conversation a few weeks ago (just after the ban was employed) between myself and two middle aged women, which only perpetuated my antipathy. The general atmosphere of this chat was pierced with sentiment about the revolutionary idea that we should bring our own bags shopping. HAVE THESE PEOPLE BEEN LIVING UNDER A ROCK FOR THE LAST FIVE PLUS YEARS? No, because they’d be dead, from not having done the shopping.
From where has this notion come, that using our reusable bags is a radically new and innovative idea? These women’s sensibility was ever so politely rocked in a mostly upper middle class sort of way upon the realisation of this small change. One of the women even boasted about how economical she now is, saving paper bags that come with items like bread in them. She animatedly described the way she folds the bag and “pops it in a drawer to use at a later date.” I was bewildered, to say the least.
I also shudder with disgust when I see someone who has fallen victim to the homewares shops who now sell compartmentalising shopping bags; the ones which can be set neatly within the trolley. The last person I saw pushing a trolley containing these was literally strutting, her sense of pride beaming the pathway to her car.
Am I unnecessarily shocked? Maybe it’s my millennial attitude that’s causing such distaste. But it’s not a personal thing, I just want us all to do good for the earth. Banning the bags is a start, it’s a small change that will hopefully eventually lead to bigger ones. But let’s champion it, let’s make sure we’re part of the change we want to see in the world. And don’t be afraid to speak up about such things. It’s starts with you!