Good morning, sunshine.
That’s what I thought when it was so bright outside before 7 am that I was dragged out of bed well before my alarm went off. And, my bedroom window faces north, so there are no direct morning rays to heat my covers and tickle me awake as when I lived in a converted warehouse with 20-foot ceilings, windows as high, and an unencumbered Eastward view of the Schuylkill River and Center City from my perch in West Philadelphia. And I never closed my shades (then or now) to encourage as much natural light to hit my skin and improve my mood.
Needless to say, today has been a much better day on all fronts than the past two dreary, grey, rainy ones. So, while a few weeks ago, I took the time to praise G-d for nature, today’s welcome sunshine is a great reminder to thank and take care of our planet. It doesn’t hurt that it’s Earth Day.
Living here in Cantabrigia, I’ve grown accustomed to the evil looks received when I arrive at a check-out counter without a cloth or recycled bag to in which to pack my own groceries. I now have a sizable collection that grows every few months when I decide on a spontaneous grocery trip and can’t fit everything into my purse and feel guilty when asked, “paper or plastic.” And at least around here, you get a small Woolworth-sized rebate when you supply your own.
Of course, other parts of the world lead with a stick, and I have heard that cities in the US have threatened to do the same (Bloomberg threatened a $0.06 tax on plastic bags last year). 2 years ago when I spent the summer in Paris and Nice, I found that many grocery stores did not even offer bags (nor did they have baggers to help you out). Of course, the French have a long history of carrying their own groceries away from their daily markets in a filet, a cotton mesh bag, or pannier, a basket (a classic French image being a little boy riding home from the bakery with a fresh baguette or two in the basket of his bicycle).
So, eventually I bought one of those re-usable bags, and it has turned out to be one of my favorite purchases in Nice. (Aside from the clothing and my provençal tablecloth, of course). It has stood by me for 2 solid years. It carried overflow stuff when my suitcase exploded and accompanied me on the airplane. I shop with it all the time here in the US and feel uber-chic because, of course, it’s French. And I think I’m French. And it prompts people to speak to me in French. And I love that. And, I fit in with my hippy dippy neighborhood because it’s quite beat-up and worn with use.
Importantly, its message is as green as its color. Agir aujourd’hui pour mieux vivre demain – Act today to live better tomorrow.
As opposed to most of the bags that I’ve seen in the US, not only is the bag re-usable, but I believe you can return it to the store and exchange it for a new one (“Sac réutililisable, échangable à vie” – Recyclable bag, exchangable for life).
Clearly I need to return to France to check on this policy. I will make any excuse to travel!
Happy Earth Day! Bon Jour de la Terre!