As I already mentioned in previous posts, I do not like to label myself as ‘vegan’, ‘vegetarian’, ‘environmentalist’ or …whatever. Instead, I prefer to take each meal or shopping trip as an opportunity to practice making mindful choices and decisions. I try to make the most healthful, conscious and compassionate decision for me, my family, and the planet. When I break it down like this it makes it easier to digest. And it makes it easier for me to be successful and to make a good choice. The other component is that whatever decision I make I make with full intention and meaning and then I take ownership of it as well. Now I would like to share a brief anecdote about a recent trip to a grocery store where this type of above-mentioned opportunity presented itself….
Twas 10 days before Christmas…(sorry no rhymes) and the holiday season was well upon us and we were in the throes of several back-to-back snow/ice storms involving lots of shoveling, car cleaning, dinner prepping AND the added wrench of a questionable school ‘snow-day’. I was attempting to squeeze-in an overdue trip to the grocery store between an equally overdue trip to the dog park and teaching a yoga class. With all of this taking up space in my head and on my time clock, I laced up my wintry boots and simulated Peruvian hat and grabbed my handbag stocked with three re-usable sacks and headed to the local market.
Once I got there I pulled out the first sack and filled it with freshly spritzed greens and carrots, herbs and other ‘wet’ produce. Next, wasting no time, I continued placing loose apples, potatoes and avocados in the second bag. Lastly, I stuffed the third bag with milk, cream cheese, a baguette and a box of cereal (cartoon mascot in tow) and rounded the corner to stand in front of the bagel case.
Please indulge me in a brief digression. While not the most nutritious offering, my girls (and sheepishly admittedly, I myself) enjoy a generously cream cheesed bagel. It is an easy cozy comfort food, either for school lunch now and again, or, as was the case here, on snowy days when they wake up late and watch the snow fall, reveling in the fact that they are still in their pajamas and not in math class.
All that remained to select were a few bagels in order to complete my speed-shopping trip and get through checkout and back to the house to off load the goods before heading out to teach. I reached down into my handbag to grab my mothering Mother large produce bags which are great for storing bagels. (Typically, when I get them home I slip the mM bag of bagels into an old bread bag or already owned plastic bag that I keep in the drawer next to my sink.) But alas I did not remember to grab the mM bags so I didn’t have one available. At the same time my hands were full with my three sacks bulging with their respective contents: wet or loose produce, heavy dairy, delicate bread and awkwardly shaped cereal box. Though I contemplated it at this point I was not going to be able to shift everything around to be able to use one of the sacks for loose bagels. So I paused for a seemingly long moment to weigh my options and I made the thoughtful and mindful decision to take a plastic bag in the case to hold the bagels. I carefully tied it closed so I would be able to reopen it without ripping it (so it could be reused at another time). Then I placed the bagels with the rest of the items and proceeded to the check out.
Though I was unable to have a plastic free shopping experience and I was not 100% successful in my mission, I was 100% responsible and comfortable with my choice and my actions. As far as I’m concerned that is all I or any of us can do, to be mindful and aware in our decisions and to own our choices without judgement of ourselves or others. Using the cotton bags doesn’t take any more time nor is it less convenient and they remind me to be more conscious, even when I don’t have them with me.