By Barbara Stewart
I’m a decisive person, but I’ll admit it: when put on the spot I can morph into a stressed blob of indecision.
It’s Saturday in the H-E-B checkout lane. As the cashier – let’s call her “Jenny” –
drags my tenth pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream across the counter, she locks eyes with me, and asks that insidious question: “Paper or plastic?”
My blood turns colder than the cartons of Cherry Garcia and Chunky Monkey. Yes, I could opt for plastic, but I know they will join the intimidating mountain of wadded-up plastic bags growing under my kitchen sink. Everyone I know has an unlimited reserve of scrunched-up bags squirreled away somewhere still waiting patiently for purposes unknown.
And what would shoppers behind me think? Perhaps I should bow to eco-consciousness and go for paper. Even without hard scientific data, paper feels like the greener choice. . . unless it’s still raining outside, in which case, paper will be the grayer choice as I get drenched, my bags turn into a mushy sort of brown goop, and my produce plummets to the asphalt.
If I were really savvy I’d have brought my own bag. I actually have one…somewhere. Really cute, too! I just haven’t seen it for a while. It’s probably in the backseat of my car. Little good that does me now.
Jenny still stares at me. I stare back blankly. “S-S-surprise me” I hear myself stutter.
As I totter out with my bags, I sigh and think: Next time I’ll shop online. My groceries will arrive in a paper box, wrapped in plastic, and I’ll never have to face Jenny again.
Stewart, a professor in the human development and consumer sciences department, firmly believes retailing is engaged in both evolutionary and revolutionary change.