When I first learned about the effect of local greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on the earth, I felt overwhelmed, sad and anxious and then decided to respond by curtailing my use of plastics as much as I possibly can. As well, in May 2020, I bought the first fully electric car in Dauphin. I have since decided that I don’t need a vehicle and another family is enjoying this car. Walking or cycling (in summer!) has enormous benefits for me and our Mother, the Earth, and I am at peace with this decision; not so much with our local co-op store.

My family has been a member of the local co-op since its inception. In fact, I have my parents’ co-op number which is 45! This store has advocated the use of reusable bags for many years, so when COVID-19 forced us into lockdown, I was dismayed to see posters that very strongly discouraged people from bringing these bags into the store. The store provides plastic bags for free instead of charging a small fee as they had previously done.

I asked the assistant manager about this decision and she responded that management thought it was a good idea. When I asked about the science that would support this action, she couldn’t cite a source, but insisted that they would continue this policy as long as necessary to ‘fight COVID”. Even when I offered information about the harmful effects of this decision on our air, through GHG emissions and the soil and water, through polluting the dump site, she was adamant.

So, as an act of resistance, I continue to bring my backpack to the store despite getting hassled by some clerks. No one has banned me from the store or asked me to leave, but they make it as difficult as possible.

For example, I have to put my purchases back into the cart, take it outside and then transfer them into my backpack. Which I do.

In that same store, I asked the produce manager about putting the paper bags for mushrooms into the slot in front of the other fruits and vegetables. He is one of my former students with whom I have a great relationship, so he readily supported this idea. Even if only one person per day or week takes a paper bag instead of the thin, one-use plastic bags, it’s a favourable step in the right direction.

Submitted by Esther Fyk