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Wayne’s World: It’s Not Easy Being Green

Why does doing my part for the planet have to feel so complicated?
191221_JL_Richelieu bags

I know what you’re going to say but, whenever I think of climate change, I am often reminded of Kermit the Frog’s timeless classic, “It’s Not Easy Being Green.” 

Everyone, it seems, is paying a heavy price for being green these days. 

I, for one, would be willing to bet that my efforts alone to reduce, reuse and recycle have saved a few planets along with the Earth.

I am, in fact, as green as anyone.

I pay those pesky carbon taxes, for instance, even with the queasy feeling that a full tank of gas in my little beater might now cost me more than I paid for the entire car.

And if I weren’t green enough, I also stand patiently for an hour in a Tim Horton’s washroom while that noisy, old hand dryer hacks and coughs cold air on my hands in lieu of paper towels.

Heck, recently I turned off all the lights in my little apartment and stood there in the dark for Earth Day 2023. I don’t know if my noble gesture aided the polar ice caps in any way but I sure felt a bit green when I stubbed my toe trying to find the bathroom light switch. (Note to self: buy a flashlight for Earth Day 2024 and go to the bathroom before turning off the lights.)

While I’m on the subject, I must commend all those big retailers out there who want everyone to be green. 

Buying stuff, thanks to this new green mindset, has never been less guilt-ridden as it once was back in a day.

It seems like a lifetime ago now, but I remember a time when we were all brainwashed into believing that consumerism was the natural-born enemy of the environment. 

Now we know it was a myth perpetuated by people who think that melting ice is a bad thing.

Thanks to billion-dollar information campaigns by some of the world’s leading corporations, like oil and shipping companies, we now know that big business is the only true hope and salvation for Mother Earth. No one works harder or spends more money after a big ‘whoopsie’ or a little faux pas to clean up after themselves or to inform us about all the good they are doing for the environment. 

Thank goodness we can believe every word they say.

I, personally, applaud retailers like Walmart for their green campaigns.

Thanks to them, I now pride myself on being a huge consumer of stuff whereas I used to be ashamed of myself for no good reason at one time.

I sleep much better at night, for example, knowing some poor innocent seagull isn’t choking down my plastic shopping bags at dinnertime. 

Think about it: You not only get to buy a lot of stuff — guilt-free — you get to buy bags from the store in which to put your stuff. 

It’s win-win. 

I must confess, I originally scoffed at the idea of buying a reusable bag when plastic bags were free and I could use them for garbage, kitty litter and doggy-do.

“Why couldn’t I just reuse my old plastic shopping bags?” I pondered. 

The grocer might boast that those cloth bags are the best thing since sliced bread, but try picking up doggie-do in the park with a cloth bag on a rainy day. That’s one sure way of going green I guess. 

A reusable cloth bag, I have long ago deducted, is only reusable if you actually remember to bring it to the store with you when you go out shopping again. If you don’t, the bag becomes part of what is often referred to as a “collection.”

My personal collection, I suspect, is now large enough to make new sails for a fleet of clipper ships with enough left over to make a gunnysack for Mother Earth.

My grocery bag collection alone, I am ashamed to say, is bordering on the obscene.

I’d be willing to wager if Sobeys were to buy all their bags back from me, I’d be able to retire a couple of years earlier, and I’d be living high on the hog, too.

Sadly, Sobeys won’t go for that.

After an inordinate amount of time begging and pleading on my part, I’ve accepted that you can never return a used grocery bag, no matter if it’s brand new or reusable. 

You can’t recycle it either because cloth isn’t recyclable. 

You can’t even toss it in the garbage because it’s against the law to throw away anything that’s recyclable nowadays or put it in the wrong bag. You may as well rob a cash register or steal a full tank of gas. The fines are pretty much the same. Ahem.

Forgetfulness is no excuse either. No one cares. No matter how many thousands of bags you have at home, the grocer will not have mercy on you. Clearly, they get a commission on bag sales. 

I once considered stealing a bag, sickened as I was at the notion of bringing home another unnecessary bag to my bulky collection, but I thought better of it when the voice of reason spoke to me in the nick of time: “No sense going to jail for one old bag.”

Tempting though.


Kermit was right. 

It’s not easy being green. 

Wayne G. Collins is a freelance writer in Guelph. Collins is available for freelance writing jobs and can be contacted at [email protected].


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