Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Making a stand

This was yesterday’s post but we had to pop to the city, so it’s going up today instead. Sorry regular readers.

Well it has been an exciting day. Dot got us up bright and early so I decided to carpe diem and got on the phone to Pecks.

As I listened to it ring, I got a bit nervous – never have been massively confident on the phone – but before I could get cold feet, someone picked up.

“Er, hello, I’d like to speak to the manager about some ideas I have for the store, please,” I said.

A man came on the line.

“Oh, hello, I was wondering if I could set up some time to come and talk to you about a few ideas I have for the store?” I said.

“Go ahead,” he said.

“What, now?” I asked, caught off guard.

“Sure,” he said.

“OK, well, er, yes, the first thing is, did you know that Kleenex cut down 10,000 year-old forests to make their toilet paper? So, I was just wondering if you’d consider not stocking their products,” I began.

“No can do I’m afraid,” he said, “Or I’d have the other lot complaining to me to put it back. It’s what they’ve used all their lives and it’s what they like. I have to sell it.”

“Oh,” I said, trying to think fast.

“We used to stock Green Tree or something but they went out of business,” he continued. ”Now we stock Marcal, but it’s our worst seller and I heard they just declared Chapter 11, so I don’t know how much longer we’ll even have that. And our warehouse doesn’t carry other recycled ranges because they’re more expensive and people just won’t pay. They want what’s cheapest.”

Bugger. He'd pretty much covered all arguments.

“Oh, I see, but it’s just, well, it’s really bad about the forests,” I said, lamely.

“Hm,” he replied with an air of finality in his voice. Clearly the paper conversation was closed.

I decided to change tack. “Er, ok, well, in that case, you know how all your vegetables are packaged in Styrofoam?” I ventured. “And as you know, Styrofoam is horrible for the environment. So I was wondering if there was another option.”

“We looked into it, but paper trays are 3 cents apiece whereas the Styrofoam is only a penny. We’d have to pass the costs on to the consumer and when it comes down to it, people round here just want whatever’s cheapest,” he said patiently. “We tried it with the egg cartons but people complained so we had to change back.”

“Oh,” I said again, not knowing how to argue with this straightforward lesson in marketplace dynamics (of course cost-cutting, along with that other pillar of 20th and 21st century consumerism, convenience, is at the root of most of our environmental woes).

“So no chance of ditching the styrofoam, then.”

“’Fraid not,” he said.

By now I got the feeling I was sounding either naïve or like a total crackpot (or both) but the manager didn’t seem to mind chatting, so in a last-ditch bid I said, “There was one other thing. There are some great farmers’ markets and farm stands around here, and I was wondering if you would be able to stock more local produce, or is that cost-prohibitive too?”

“Actually we do that in the summer, we have local corn and apples,” he said.

“Oh, er, ok then, well that’s great,” I said, thinking I had seen little evidence of local produce this summer, but whatever. “Well, thanks for your time, and sorry for chewing your ear off.”

“Oh, that’s ok,” said the manager, as if humouring someone simple.

We hung up. I was disappointed to have made absolutely zero progress and completely nonplussed as to what my next step would be, but pleased I’d had the balls to at least try.

As I pondered how I was going to convince the people of Narrowsburg to boycott Kleenex (placards? I have a feeling the locals might not go for it), an exciting package arrived: the wooly breast pads. What a relief: no more disposables. Mind you, I got a bit of a shock when I opened them – they’re as big as saucers and thicker than a...thick wooly blanket. They do make one look a little matronly, but the temperature dropped to 20 degrees by this afternoon so I’m sure I’ll be glad of the extra insulation.

Once I had them installed, Dot and I headed out for a walk in the woods. No bears spotted today; instead something much rarer in these parts - a Prius. The driver turned out to be Barbara (she of the local conservation society and vegetable patch). We hope to be seeing more of her soon.

The day ended in the city with a lovely dinner at Jamie and Kim’s.

“It’s terrible about the trees,” said Kim, who's a reader.

“It’s worse about our loo roll,” said Jamie forlornly. “Bloody green bloody crap.”

He didn’t mean it. He’s having his new house outfitted with the latest energy-saving devices and natural gas. And I’m sure his tender bottie will soon have forgotten what Charmin even felt like.
Cheers Jamie. The boreal forest will thank you.

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At 5:07 PM , Blogger Sven said...

Yeah, I heard that books are also made from trees. Isn't that horrible?
You should start a campaign telling everyone to boycott books.

Maybe we could even have local book burnings to protest against these evil things.

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