Saturday, March 1, 2008

"That's ok, i don't need a plastic bag thanks..."

When i'm out shopping i have to say this phrase at almost every checkout. Strangely, even at the end of transactions at my regular places, where the shoppkeepers and i not only know each others names, but also our children and our happenings. Some of these people i see almost every day in our very small country township. But even so, the bag issue just doesn't go away, even after briefing them to never offer me a bag, just give it me "as is", where i pop it in my "granny trolley" (which follows me jus about everywhere), and off i go.

Taking control of my own participation in eco alternatives (or back-to-basics, as i like to think of it) was initially difficult, until i decided to turn those small decisions into a code of conduct. One it
became the foundation of the small things, it evolved into other things. For example, here at Artscope Music we only pack our cd orders in packaging that comes from other local businesses (who donate it to us instead of putting it in their bins), and instead of using bubble-mailers, we send our cds in non-plastic jiffy-bags, which are totally biodegradable and are manufactured from a percentage of recycled newspapers.

Changing ourselves

This approach to challenge the norm took courage more than anything else. It took me a while to ask local business if they had any small boxes i could take off their hands. It was awkward for all of us, as it was the first time either of us had thought about it. With the jiffy bags (which cost about twice the price as standard plastic mailers), it was more about realising that it was only the cost factor that was holding me back. As soon as i realised this, i simply told myself that plastic was not good enough for us. We, as guardians of this planet, and myself, as a mother of 3 small children, have a moral obligation to do what's right. It wasn't going to kill the business, in fact i decided "let's brag about it", in the hope that other people might also be inspired to do something too.

As consumers, we often feel that we have no choice in some of these matters, but in reality we are the ones who hold the purse strings. If we collectively say NO to plastic, and put our money where our mouths are, we will force businesses and marketers to change. And instead of just
settling on saying no to the bag, every week we can tweek our stance to include other things, like supporting local growers, or requesting a certain brand at our local supermarket, or refusing to spend money at the big stores in support of local business.
Make a deal, sort something out with your store. make a change, and then brag about it. Be proud of your stance, it will help others find the courage to make their own changes.