Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Wrong Shade of Green

So a few weeks ago, I found myself in a bit of what I lovingly refer to as an environmental conundrum.

Remember when I started recycling a few months ago? Well, I have totally stuck with it and I always feel soooooo virtuous when I go to the dump and sort through all my cans and bottles and newspapers and cardboard. Of course, if I were truly green, I wouldn't even be drinking bottled water. I'd buy a Brita. Or at least one of those 5-gallon water coolers. Drinking those individual half liter bottles is probably not totally environmentally conscious. But at least I am recycling - right?

So I leave the dump feeling all virtuous and then I head to the grocery store. And it occurs to me as I am checking out that I am a total heel because OMG: how many plastic bags does it take to pack one cart of groceries? Well, if you're at my local Bi-Lo the answer is ninety trillion because apparently an unopened handsoap can't be in the same bag as an opened pack of English muffins can't be in the same bag as an unopened bag of lettuce. And each bottle of wine gets not one but two bags and God forbid you put two bottles of wine in the same bag or better yet...have one of those handy dandy cardboard carrying wine bottle containers. And I get that a loaf of bread is fragile but it doesn't need its own bag. Just put it on top of other less fragile stuff. Ditto eggs.

To give y'all a real-life example of misguided bagging efforts: Sunday I ran up to Food Lion up the road and purchased: 1 bag of spinach, 1 bag of lettuce, 1 6-pack of Dannon Light yogurt and 1 bottle Yellowtail Shiraz. The bag boy put the lettuce and spinach (both 200% sealed) in 1 plastic bag, the yogurt in a separate plastic bag (I was not aware that green vegetable were lactose intolerant), and double bagged the wine. Four individual items. Four bags. I was horrified. I shoved the yogurt in with the greens and cut it down to three. I would have dealt with the wine too but it had taken me over 10 minutes to check out and I was having a mild anxiety attack and feeling the supreme need to exit Food Lion immediately since not only was the whole checkout situation pretty sucky but the store is dark and dismal and what light there is is fluorescent and there is no cell signal so I can't Tweet about what an awful shopping experience it is and why do I shop there? I have no idea - I guess it's close.

And so seriously, this (i.e. the overbagging and me feeling really guilty) happens EVERY time I go to the grocery store and of course 1) I feel like I need to teach a Better Bagging class to the local baggers in this town because clearly they have been misinformed and 2) I feel like a real heel because Holy Crap: that's a shitload of plastic bags. And why don't I ever remember to bring the one reusable shopping bag I have? And oh wait - the one reusable shopping bag I have is currently serving in a storage capacity. And OMG why don't I just buy 5 @ $0.99 a piece and leave them in my car?

And then I get home and I have ninety trillion plastic bags...which I now save because as the recycling stacks up in the recycling bin in the house, I sort it into the plastic bags and then move them into one of the outside bins until its time for another dump run. Where I guess I wind up recycling the bags anyways. And then the whole cycle starts anew. At least it starts anew if I go to the grocery store that same day. And I get to ride the I-Am-So-Virtuous/I-Am-Such-A-Heel pendulum and go through the entire range of 873 emotions in the span of 3.2 minutes.

And speaking of Not-As-Environmentally-Conscious as I should be...I use an assload of paper towels. I have some OCD issues (not to mention a paralyzing fear of raw chicken) so it's not unusual for me to wash my hands 10+ times while I am in the kitchen (more if there's chicken involved). And I usually grab a paper towel (or 2) to dry them. Although sometimes I do remember to use one of the 6 dish towels neatly and conveniently placed throughout my kitchen. But usually I don't. And so I go through paper towels at an insane rate. And one of my greener friends looked at me sort of funny when I told her about my paper towel consumption and OMG - once again, I felt like I was clearly the wrong shade of green. Like I was maybe Lime or Chartreuse versus a more robust Kelly Green.

So I am oh so curious: What shade of green are you?

Speaking of green...our pasture so needs to be bushhogged. It's times like this I wish we had a tractor.

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...


Nancy said...

I am a medium shade of green -- our trash company finally got smart and provided us with a recycling container as big as our regular trash bin. We can combine ALL our recycling (paper, plastic, glass) together and it gets picked up every other week. My regular garbage can is waiting for pickup with two measly tall kitchen bags in it, while the recycling bin can stand to be picked up every week.
Grocery shopping I'm not so good. We drink bottled water - but I don't buy it every week and I will refill a bottle throughout the day. I (hang my head) use plastic because I'm too cheap to buy five or six reusable bags. I do have one delightful roll up bag that I keep in my pocketbook for those quick trips. But most of the time, with one or two items, I'll just carry them out unbagged with my receipt in my hand.

harmzie said...

I try to have the reusable grocery bags on hand, but usually forget them in the trunk and don't remember until I'm at the checkout.

Other than that, most of what I do that is green is such b/c I am cheap &/or lazy and it just works out that way. So I'm a pretty pale green.