Lightbulb moment at the meat counter

Abby turned 17 on Wednesday, which is why on Tuesday, I found myself back at the store buying the necessary items for a special dinner plus cheesecake. Spoiler alert: Monday’s post will be about attempting a zero waste birthday. Today we’re going to talk about what happened when I hit the meat counter for chicken.

I don't really have art for this post, so here's a picture of a sign in the bathroom of my acupuncturist, on the paper towel dispenser.

I don’t really have art for this post, so here’s a picture of a sign I saw in a bathroom recently.

I have yet to buy meat since my last perfect encounter, mostly because I really stocked up and haven’t had to, plus we don’t eat as much meat in the summertime, I guess because it’s hot and we just want salad. During my weekly shopping trips, however, I scope out who’s behind the counter, and it’s been Mr. Plastic (oh, Mr. Plastic!). I’ve been sort of grateful I haven’t needed meat, to be honest.

Tuesday, though, had three different clerks, one of whom is a woman who just rocks my zero waste world — she’s told me how much easier it is on her end to fill a container and how smart I am too boot. (Huh, wonder why I like her so much? It’s a mystery.) She saw me and, when I asked if I could get that chicken into this jar, she was like, yes!, but she was up to her elbows in what appeared to be marinated steaks, so another kid said he’d do it. Remembering my new backbone when it comes to the meat counter, I asked if I could set my jar on the scale and forego the paper and plastic wrap.

Sure, he says, and then proceeds to fill up my jar. And it was perfect.

He’s just handing me the price sticker when a second kid starts talking about how so many more people are bringing in jars. I talked to this one lady and she told me that she brings a jar because she’s trying to cut down on her garbage, he says in a tone that implies she blew his mind.

And that’s when the lightbulb started to flicker.

Then he went on about how she had been able to reduce her trash to just one bag a week. He was shocked at the thought of so little waste, and looked at me for confirmation. I gave him a thumb’s up (I don’t know, it seemed like the right thing to do) and told him that it IS possible, you just have to be aware of what you’re bringing in.

It took that conversation to finally understand why sometimes my meat counter encounters go awry: I’ve been going about it the wrong way. It’s not my backbone at all! It’s the reason for the thing that is going to win these people over in the end — I’m not trying to be difficult, I’m not weird, I just want to reduce my garbage.

Anyway, high on that whole episode, I made my way to the checkout line. I had an older couple behind me, and I could see them peering into my cart. I didn’t think much of that because it happens a lot, but when the woman moved next to me, staring pointedly at my jar of chicken, I knew she wanted to talk.

What is that? she asked, and I was like, oh, it’s a jar of chicken from the meat counter — my daughter turns 17 tomorrow and we’re making dinner for her and her friends, and the woman was like, I was wondering, I thought maybe it was pigs’ feet.

And I was like, if only because that would be amazing, but sadly no. Then she said, is that your jar? and I was like, oh, yeah, they’re super great about it here, they tare it first so you’re only paying for the meat inside. I’m trying to reduce plastic (see? That epiphany wasn’t lost on me). She didn’t know you could do that. Then we talked about some of the other items I’d chosen, and by the time I checked out, the two of them wished me a happy party because we were new best friends.

It was all very good for my self-esteem.

I learned two things during that trip: A) That it’s not so much about speaking up as it is what I’m saying, and 2) You can do a lot of evangelizing in the checkout line. 🙂

P.S. I am sad to report that my grandma’s awesome orange tupperware BROKE (huh, apparently it wasn’t freezer-safe). I’m not fussed about it — I mean, I have other things of my grandma’s — but I will miss it’s bright color and ’70s vibe.

Next up: A very zero waste birthday.

8 Responses to Lightbulb moment at the meat counter

  1. Yay! Definately a win all round then 🙂 Here in the UK the concept of bulk pretty much doesn’t exist but I have bought some of the net produce bags for loose veggies which I figure is a start. FInding your blog very inspirational and so glad you share the stories when it doesn’t just work out perfectly as it’s so human and makes me less afraid to give it a try myself!

    • I think just doing what we can — like the produce bags — is awesome. We have to make do with what we have available to us! It’s easy to get bogged down in what we should be doing and forget about what we are doing. So yay you!

      And thanks — as a reporter, I definitely believe in sharing all sides, plus life is messy. 🙂 And props to the community here for letting me not be perfect. There have been times I’ve been like, well, this is what happened and I’m going to get creamed for this, but instead everyone is understanding and supportive. Makes posting here very pleasant!

    • I’ll have a photo of it in Monday’s post, but it’s a half-gallon glass jar with a wide mouth. I wish it were wider, but the kid did manage to cram my chicken in there and I got it out no problem, so it works.

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