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Modeling: Slow n Steady

January 11 2009 | Rise Above Plastics,
by Ximena Waissbluth, Program Director


It would be interesting to plant one of those band-aid sized anxiety meter monitors on my temple next time I go to the grocery store. As the person ahead of me is processing his or her transaction, and my goods are on the checkout belt waiting to get scanned, I begin to note the faintest hint of agitation growing within me. I watch the preceding customer's interaction carefully, and usually there is some mishap- one of the few remaining newbies swipes his card backwards; the woman's savings card number doesn't work; but the sign said that the artichokes were on sale!...etc. Though infuriating to most, I exalt in the confusion because it gives me time to assess the clerk and to strategize my move. Speed is of the essence. I must thrust my canvas totebags on the counter at the exact right moment or my plans will be (momentarily) foiled. Oh dear! Suddenly they are finished and it's my turn but the person ahead hasn't moved forward and in a time factor that can be measured in tenths of seconds my broccolini is already being pitched into the open plastic bag. "No that's OK!" I cry out. "I've got some bags," holding them up with unappreciated triumph, and begin rebagging my food.

You see, I've moved temporarily to the mountain town of Truckee, CA, up in the mountains near Lake Tahoe - far from the coast, and far from my small local grocery store where I supposed they have become used to more of us bringing in our own tote bags. It seems the plastic bag bans and BYO awareness that we see popping up predominantly around coastal U.S. cities have not made their way inland yet. The comments I've gotten from the grocery store checkout clerks here regarding my totes include:
"Look out, we've got a rebel!"
"Oh my, are we saving the planet today?"
"Boy, you must need that 5 cent discount pretty bad."


Hence the little anxiety meter, it would just be a blip I know, but it would probably register as I brace for the comments and conceive my response. The corresponding responses so far, always with a bright smile:
"Hopefully not for long! "
"Yep! Just doing my part, love the planet what can I say!"
"Not really! smile"

Then, molasses me sets in, one of my favorite modes. I slowly walk away, and slowly make my way down the store, and slowly walk down the parking lot. I hope somebody notices. In this situation, all I can do is model, is hope the food-full canvas totes over the shoulders catches the attention of a passerby and inspires them to do the same next time. I don't want to be a rebel. I don't want to need to save the planet. And I certainly don't want to be desperate for 5 cents. But, at the risk of sounding like a Clockwork Orange nutjob, I do want to contribute to behavior modification. Tiny little steps. Metamorphosis.
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