Saturday’s observations run thusly…
What used to be a twenty minute online shop for the week became two and half hours around various shops for a couple of days, spending much more money than usual.
I met a young woman in one shop, who thanked me for bringing in my own bags and containers. She told me she was from Montana, which despite being one of the largest US states, wasn’t managing to recycle its own glass and at the other end of the spectrum, she’d lived in Seattle where you could get fined for not composting. She then went on to tell me what happens to old UK tyres – they go to China and get burned she said. I have no idea if any of this is true but I am as gripped by environmental gossip as the next person (may not be…)
The rest of the day was spent in various activities of food preparation, including de-bugging, sorting through, trimming and chopping a lettuce from an organic veg box, an activity that previously consisted of turning a pre-washed packet of ready-washed rocket upside down into a bowl.
It also included chopping an enormous loose bunch of parsley bought for 99p locally, which could be frozen for further use in order not to waste it, as opposed to the previously bought microscopic bouquet from supermarket, which is done and dusted in one meal.
The food quality of lunch and dinner that day went up enormously (organic freshness abounded) as did the drudgery component.
When I told my mother about all this on the phone later, she was reminded of being a housewife in Germany in the Sixties and we remembered that some of the innovations that led to all this convenience helped to get a lot of women out of the home at a time when they really wanted to experience something different.
I had to plan my shopping more carefully as I was going to some shops where I could only get certain things. I also needed to remember an assortment of Tupperware, paper bags and cotton bags. I walked around a lot more and I carried a lot more too. I didn’t have strong feelings about this either way and from a fitness point of view, all to the good.
Overall, I felt very virtuous…and a lot more tired…What is environmentally sustainable may not be personally sustainable…
But there is something more human and ordinary for me about engaging with folk in smaller, local shops that is lost amid the cool glitter of the supermarket aisles. That said, it would be easy to romanticise activities that my grandmother would gladly have dispensed with. The Way of it must lie somewhere in between it all. I haven’t found it yet but the search continues…