“are you some sort of Greenie or something?”


My standard response when buying something in any kind of shop is, “No bag thanks.” I often say it with a slight edge to my voice, as take my eyes off the sales person for a mere second or a distraction from a small child and they are stuffing those goodies straight into that bag of plastic. Far too much enthusiasm round these parts for you to be taking home a little souvenir plastic.

Recently, after buying a few items in a shop I blurted out my standard line and was met with…

“What, are you some sort of Greenie or something?”

I looked around me. Everything seemed to look the same as when I had stepped into the shop, everything still looked very 2013 and yet that comment seemed to come straight from 1983.

I was appalled. Is this how far we had come? That only a Greenie would say no to plastic bag?? I indignantly said yes, yes I was and stomped out. (And for the record the shop in question was also a health food shop….a health food shop!)


So there the comment sat with me, weeks and weeks after. What hope did the planet have if it was still a bloody battle not to get a plastic bag for your purchases? (I had also had another comment in the same week from another salesperson expressing sincere surprise at my lack of plastic enthusiasm as so many of her customers always took multiple bags.)

While my issue with having plastic bags thrust in my hands is small in comparison with all the other environmental issues going on in the world, I can’t help but think it’s still far too easy to put our heads in the sand and pretend nothing is happening.

Too easy to ignore the fact that these seemingly small steps are someone else’s problem.

Too easy to ignore the fact that we are living with a greedy fossil fuel industry, that’s having gaspingly scary consequences.

Too easy to dismiss what will happen in our future as it’s just so unknown… But is it? Is it so easy to dismiss? This is the sort of thing that keeps me up late at night wondering what the hell sort of future I’m passing on to my children.


This week author and environmentalist activist Bill McKibben is in Australia for his “Do the Math” tour. For tickets, dates and places please see here. More reading on 350.org

He will also be appearing on Q and A tonight (if you are in Australia.)

(this movie is set in the United States but has global maths figures that are and will effect all of us.)