Vietnam is certainly not known for it’s environmental consciousness. Littering is just a part of daily life. There are no garbage receptacles on the streets. The Saigon River looks and smells like a dump. And yet today, I just couldn’t help myself. I had to photo-document my shopping experience.
My two favourite places to go food shopping in the city are a foreign grocers near my yoga studio and the outdoor market around the corner from our house. The foreign grocers always gives me two bags for fear that one might break while I’m driving. This is a very nice gesture even if most of the time it’s entirely unnecessary.
I then hopped on my bike and headed to the market. I grabbed my backpack from the seat of my bike and took my other groceries with me so that no one would help themselves while I was shopping.
I got to my favourite veggie lady and started picking out my usual fare: cucumbers, carrots, okra, tomatoes and this week she had some delicious-looking pineapple. Each variety went into its own separate bag today. Sometimes she’ll be “environmentally conscious” and put *gasp* TWO types of veggies in the same bag but today she was taking particular care to separate all the veggies.
She then put all of the items into a green bag and after I helped her empty some new carrots (that she pulled out just pour moi!) onto her display, she took the bag they were in and DOUBLE-bagged my already five other bags! I just giggled and let her do her thing.
Then I moved on to the banana lady. She weighed by tiny plantains and then… you guessed it… bagged them! Only once.
My final stop was the fruit lady. I selected my apples, oranges, mango and whatever else she managed to convince me to buy by thrusting a taste-test in my face. As she weighed my purchases, I began arranging the veggies and bananas in my backpack for easier transportation.
She came around the front of the stand to give me my fruit (which had also been triple- or quadruple-bagged). There was just enough space in the top of my backpack for her fruit. When she saw that I was putting the fruit into my backpack, she ran around the stall and came back wiiiiiiiiiith… ANOTHER bag! What??? I’m putting stuff into a backpack for a reason! So I DON’T need another bag.
But again, I let her fawn over me and take care of me.
Here’s the kicker… I thought she was going to put that bag around the fruit I’d just bought. But instead, she took my grocers bag (which, if you remember, had already been double-bagged) and put this additional bag around it. And trust me. There was absolutely nothing wrong with these bags from the grocers. Heaven knows I pay enough money at that store that they always give me really good-quality, big bags.
I piled the rest of the fruit into my backpack and giggled to myself as I left the market. For the most part, I’d gotten used to the excess of bagging around here. But today was just so excessive I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to write about it.
So for those of you who whine and complain about paying 5¢ per bag at the grocery store, get your butts over here and you can collect enough plastic bags in one week to roll around in.