Being green can draw weird looks in public, especially when you do some of the things I am in the habit of doing. Most of these are tongue-in-cheek, but quite frankly, I still can’t figure out why some of these behaviours or actions are not yet mainstream where I live.
Let me describe a few for you.
Taking Your Own Cup to the Coffee Shop
This simple act still gets me weird looks from coffee shop clients and barista alike. You would think that people would be used to seeing eco-conscious folk take their own cups for a cup of java, but noooo, apparently it is more fashionable and planet destroying to ask for a disposable one. But then again, I like to set my own trend.
My favourite reusable coffee cup is the KeepCup. You can reuse it thousands of times, and if it ever breaks, you can recycle it in curbside recycling. Try doing that with a styrofoam or plastic coated paper coffee cup!
My hope is that more people take my lead at my local coffee kiosk, partly because it is the right thing to do, and partly because some café offer a small discount off the price of your cuppa. What is not to like about that.
Wearing Gumboots to the Hardware Store
Yes, I must admit that when I am working hard in the garden and I need something urgently, I often forget what I am wearing on my feet and visit the hardware store with muck covered gumboots (aka wellingtons or rubber boots). You should see the funny looks I get as I am pondering over which veggie seedlings to buy, or which bag of organic manure to lug home. It may be okay in the country, but in the urban fringe of Melbourne, it still turns heads, especially when I have just mucked out the chook house!
Travelling on Public Transport with a Climate Change Placard
This one certainly got the most weird looks so far. Ben and I had just attended a climate change rally in the city, and were travelling back to sleepy old Melton on the train. You would have thought that we had two heads by the ogling that we received. It was as if our fellow passengers had never heard of Climate Change! May be they were blissfully unaware as I was before September 2006, but really, who hasn’t heard of Climate Change these days. Denial or what? What’s wrong asking for action on the most single issue affecting mankind?
Using Canvas Shopping Bags instead of Plastic bags
Kim and I still get weird looks, especially from the supermarket checkout chick or rooster from this one (probably more like a groan than anything else). A simple bit of forethought and planning to make sure that you have canvas bags if you go to the shops. How hard is it, honestly?
The look usually starts when they (the cashier) asks “do you want a bag” and I reply, no thanks, I have my own. Just that is enough to get a raise eyebrow or two. Maybe it is my return look of disbelief that I still got “the look”. It bugs me.
I wish our state was a bit more forward thinking like South Australia where all plastic LDPE shopping bags are banned and shoppers have to take their own. It would be just so much easier on the environment and certainly people quickly get used it.
Refusing Bottled Water at a Function
This one gets some serious weird looks. Not drinking water from a plastic bottle? You must be crazy. Yes, that is actually what I have had said to my face. I told them that I was certainly not crazy and that there was nothing wrong with tap water, which I proceed to go and find.
I think it may be time to look in the mirror, because not only is bottled water so expensive compared to tap water, the empty bottles themselves are rarely recycled and take thousands of years to breakdown in the environment. It is a luxury that is just not worth it. Life’s a bitch with a Mitch. You’ll know what I mean after watching the video!
What Happens When “The Look” Stops?
I have probably missed hundreds of examples, because I am just that sort of guy. The one that doesn’t give a hoot what sort of attention I attract when I am different from mainstream. And you know what? It’s okay to be different, and try to lead by example. People take notice, then think a little bit more deeply if they see you doing it repeatedly.
You will know when green living is mainstream when “the look” stops or is seen on the rare occasion. I am sure there are places around Australia and the globe for that matter where the things I listed don’t get a second look or raised eyebrow ever. Now wouldn’t it be nice to live somewhere like that!
Where I live, we are not there yet by a longshot, but it will happen eventually if I have anything to do with it. It will be a massive day of celebration at my house when it does!
So over to you. What green behaviours or actions make you the receiving end of a weird look in public? Oh, and Blue Steel or Ferrari don’t count.