Green at being green

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By Holly Tabor


My sister and I used to walk up and down the half mile-long gravel road that led to our home picking up the trash kids tossed out the windows of our school bus.

Trash bags in hand, we lifted neon green Ski bottles and empty Doritos bags, even cigarette butts, from among the blades of grass because somebody, somewhere told us that not only was trash on the side of the road ugly, it was bad for the environment.

This was our road. Our environment. It was our little highway, and we adopted it.

Plus, it was a chance to see if we might meet up with the boys who lived at the other end of the road. Coincidence or not, we often did. But that’s a story for another time.

Fact was we hated litter. I still hate litter. But I can’t recall the last time I picked up trash on the side of the road.

Sure, I pick it up if it blows into my yard. I’m not above snatching up a stray cup or cheeseburger wrapper in a parking lot, if there’s a trash can in sight.

My husband and I do other little things, too. We reuse water bottles instead of throwing them away and line our wastebaskets with plastic grocery bags. We signed up for the energy conservation program with our utilities company. We don’t throw trash out windows.

But that notion of environmental consciousness that so motivated me as a youngster has been pushed aside by a serious quest for convenience and a predisposition to fit too many things into too little time and to feel too overwhelmed to do any of it, and therefore simply throwing trash in the trash and forgetting about it. Essentially, I’ve decided I’m too busy to save the planet and have left it to those folks in Hollywood with their hybrid cars and organic makeup.

My carbon footprint must be huge.

Recently, however, I’ve taken a slightly more eco-friendly turn. And it started, strangely enough, with a piece of potential trash. It was a grocery bag, a cloth one, appropriately green in color. My editor gave it to me.

It came to him in a press kit, and instead of throwing it away he stepped out his office door and nonchalantly dropped it on my desk. “You want this?”

Usually, the answer is no.

This time, I took it. Then I took it to the grocery, folded neatly and tucked quite intentionally beneath my purse in the cart. I had never brought my own bag to go shopping before and found myself wondering who might be looking at me and what must they be thinking.  

When I approached the checkout line, I walked to the bagger and explained in much greater detail than was necessary that I had never done this kind of thing before, but I had this bag if she wanted to use it. She did. And before I paid, she instructed the cashier to take 4 cents off my grocery bill.

I was moved. Visions of cloth grocery bags and little cent signs danced in my head. But before that came the realization that if this grocery giant can give me 4 cents to use my own bag — whether it’s because it’s better for the environment or just because it saves them a little money — then I could do more, too. I’m embarrassed to say it’s taken me this long to make that connection.

That week, I signed up for recycling with our waste company and vowed to buy more cloth grocery bags. It’s a green movement in the Tabor household, and it’s slowly gaining momentum. I know there’s much more that can be done, but it’s a start.

Features Editor Holly Tabor can be reached at (270) 505-1745 or htabor@thenewsenterprise.com.