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I’m Returning to My Roots

January 11th, 2008

When Whole Foods Market came to my town in the United States, I was ecstatic. I’d shop for an hour or two, milling over which brand of organic eggs or beef or celery or salad dressing to buy.* On my way out, I’d load three neatly packed, sturdy, brown papers bags into the back seat of my car. After awhile, I purchased the cloth bags to tote the vegetables home. I even brought back those sturdy brown bags to use again.

Then, I moved to Costa Rica. A plastic bag free-for-all. There’s no question these bags with handles are handy, and since it does rain in Costa Rica, paper bags aren’t always a good solution especially when one has to take the bus or walk home. But the other day when I came home, my AAA batteries (which are encased in plastic to begin with) were inside a plastic bag inside another plastic bag. After a shopping trip, I will easily accumulate about 15 bags. Recycycling? Remember what it was like in the 1980s to recycle? Lugging the bags to faraway bins. If you were lucky you lived by the Goodwill. That’s kind of what it is like here. I moved to a city that used to recycle, but the program stopped. Now I’m back to driving my bottles to a bin, or finding a fellow I can take them to who will gladly haul take them from me every few weeks.

There’s no place to recycle these bags other than the bathroom. For those who do not know, living in Costa Rica is much like living on a boat: you can’t flush the toilet paper down the bowl. Those plastic bags come in handy for the little garbage pail that sits in all bathrooms. But we just don’t use the bathroom enough to recyle about 30 bags a week I end up brining home. I feel like I’m drowning in the things.

But, I’m returning to my roots. While shopping for curtains, my daughter and I came across this great orange, zippy looking pull-cart. Kind of an up-to-date, stylish model of the metal cart with two wheels.

Hey! Let’s get it. It’s not in the budget, but think of the gas we’ll save by walking to the store!

We choose orange over all the other bright colors.

The next day, we walked to the grocery store. I put the grocery cart next up to the cashier and started unloading the items onto the belt. My daughter started in on her deep desire for M&Ms. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the grocery boy pulling out little white plastic bags.

NO! Stop!

I had even brought cloth bags to pack the vegetables in. I snipped at Coco to forget the candy and dashed for the vegetables. The young man looked at me as if I was looney. In a manner of ten seconds, he’d already packed up about eight plastic bags with an average of two items in each bag. My daughter still loomed long-faced by the chocolate and the cashier was ready for money. I felt like a defensive player on the basketball court: no matter how big I spread my butt, I couldn’t keep my court safe.

The grocery boy flung up his hands, rolled his eyes (crazy Gringa!) and went back to the his bench. I paid and began taking items out of the plastic. I left a pineapple and some plantains in bags so they wouldn’t leak in the cart. It’s not easy being green. But darned if we aren’t going to keep trying. We tipped the orange cart back and started walking for home.

*You can get fresh, organic food delivered right to your door in the Central Valley of Costa Rica from the fine people at NaturaStyle.


8 Responses to “I’m Returning to My Roots”

  1. La Gringa on January 12, 2008 11:55 am

    Same thing here in Honduras. I have some canvas shopping bags, but the bag boys always want to bag or double-bag everything before putting it in the canvas bags. Heaven forbid that you ever buy something and say, “Oh, thanks, I don’t need a bag.” It results in confusion, suspicion, and probably manager approval. 😉

  2. Costa Rica Logue on January 17, 2008 11:48 am

    Its nice tos ee someone who is as anal as I am about recyling. I do as much as I can, but I always wish there was more.

    I try to go to the store weekly and just take a satchel to load up what I buy in.

  3. Susan on January 17, 2008 2:33 pm

    Pura vida!

  4. Roberto Kruse on January 18, 2008 3:01 pm

    You can now recycle those plastic bags they manage to give you. You can take them to an Auto Mercado.

  5. Susan Lutz on March 21, 2008 6:48 pm

    Bravo! One more bag saved.

  6. Steven Fiedler on April 26, 2008 7:04 pm

    Hey, read your post and I must say, I happen to live in Boca Raton, Fl as well as Kimberly, ID. We also have a house in Heredia. I love Costa Rica and if you carry plastics bags back and forth in buses and public transportation and complain about it, then you are probably not the kind of American who should have moved to Costa Rica. We dont recycle in Florida or Idaho, as a matter of fact recycling is a very expensive ordeal, if it is expensive here, imagine how a third world country could handle that expense. There are so many other reason why someone would move to Costa Rica, have you noticed by any chance how beautiful it is?, how wonderful the climate is?? I lived in Montecito, CA and believe me, I have never ever seen acid rain like I did in CA. The person who feels as if she/he was living on a boat, should pack her bags and move back to whereever they came from as well. You cant flush the toilet paper, big deal!! At least you dont drink the recycle toilet water we usually drink here in the States, which would you rather have?? SO, stop complaining and if you dislike it there, then come back to the USA, we most certainly could use another complainer!!

  7. Susan Lutz on April 28, 2008 11:00 am

    Wow. Intense. But that’s cool. Complaining? Check out paragraph two again….

    “Then, I moved to Costa Rica. A plastic bag free-for-all. There’s no question these bags with handles are handy, and since it does rain in Costa Rica, paper bags aren’t always a good solution especially when one has to take the bus or walk home. But the other day when I came home, my AAA batteries (which are encased in plastic to begin with) were inside a plastic bag inside another plastic bag…….”

    As it says, the bags are quite useful, even an “good solution” when we need to use the bus. But you see, accepting everything in this country I love and live full-time for the last ten years without questioning , understanding and examining the issues is limiting thought. I write daily about the beauties of this country, but I also look where maybe – together – we can make a little change. Why does the AA batteries need to be inside another plastic bag? Perhaps conscious use of our consumption before we even leave the supermarket is a new way of thinking.

    I live inside and out in this country with two kids. We plant trees, know the national anthem, pick up trash, and look for ways, even one less plastic bag at the grocery store, to improve our homeland.

  8. MotherJungle » Go back to the States - you complainer you! on April 29, 2008 9:50 am

    […] you want to see his whole resonse, go to Tim’s site at The Real Costa Rica Blog. This is a great site with a lot of helpful […]

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