A Shift in Consciousness About Consumerism
“Yes,” she says. “It looks nice this design, doesn’t it?”
So she didn’t quite understand my comment about how happy I was seeing a wall full of food dispensers in a shop. But she was nice at least. Very nice in fact. A bit like the forward-thinking concept of the shop that employed her. With a large queue of waiting customers behind me I decided not to elaborate on why my heart was singing as well as dancing despite the early hour of the day. I nod and she gives me a radiant smile.
Chances are she’ll find out sooner or later what was delighting me so. Working in an establishment where shoppers have to bring their own containers to take home their purchases it might be hard to miss the good news, aside from the stylish look of the place that is.
I walk out the door and take a sip of juice I bought earlier that morning. When the plastic bottle touches my lips a sense of guilt accompanies the liquid into my system. It has an immediate moderating effect on the excitement I was feeling a minute before. The person who sold the drink to me had answered no when I asked him if they were able to re-use empty bottles returned to the shop. Had he said yes it would have made me feel only slightly better about being responsible for the addition of yet another piece to the enormous plastic life raft in our oceans.
I could of course have made a juice at home and brought it with me. I could also have forgotten about the whole thing and simply drank the bottle of tap water in my bag. But that’s not what I did. I got the juice that looked greener than my buying was. The bad news is that a lot of us, myself included, are so used to getting what we want it might seem hard to willingly make do with less. But then there’s always the good news.
Everywhere I turn I see people doing their best to find alternatives for our current ways. Like the gentleman who sold me the juice. He and his colleagues are working hard to replace their bottles with biodegradable ones. As he explained to me there are a lot more questions to consider than one might imagine. Limited distribution points in their area for instance. Partly for that reason the costs would be so high they would have to raise the price of the juices considerably. Their concern is that people would stop buying them.
Personally I would rather pay extra and buy them less often. And perhaps others who want nothing to do with their current plastic bottles would actually start buying them if their biodegradable brothers showed up. Still we have to take care not to overuse those either and to compost them properly. If they end up on regular landfills even they can take anywhere from a hundred to a thousand years to decompose.
For now, I resolve to give up my store-bought juices entirely. At least until the biodegradable version of things. And while I’m at it I have come to the conclusion there’s little virtue in insisting on packaged green beans when the broccoli is free of the constraints of plasticism.
If that means I eat the same thing more often, at least my diet will not be eating away at my sense of peace. Honestly I don’t doubt for a second that when and if our planet has truly had enough of our ‘human-doings’ it can shake us more easily than a cow shrugs off a fly. Just look at how little we are able to do against something like a gust of wind. But that doesn’t diminish the importance of behaving with some dignity while we are still welcome.
Fortunately there are plenty of us who are willing to do just that.
Aside from buying eco-friendly it might do us good in more than one way to lessen our consumption altogether. It’s really not that hard to prepare our own food or mend the clothes we own from time to time. It might even make us appreciate what we have rather than feed our desire for something new. There’s even a good chance we’ll relax a bit and focus more of our attention on enjoying each other’s company.
Maybe that’s an art we need to re-learn but it is so close to our nature it’s almost harder not to be that way. At least it is more painful. A damn sight more painful than being faced with my last sip of store-bought juice for a while to come. I decide to fill the bottle with natural shampoo when I come across a dispenser. Maybe I’ll ask the shop attendant with the bright smile if she thinks it could add something to the look of the store.