After today's trip to the grocery store I'm left wondering if I am just a big, giant hypocrite? The short answer is yes, of course I am. Most of us are hypocrites to some extent. Religious zealots who preach love and kindness, yet kill in the name of religion or treat homosexuals like murderers. Wannabe greenies like myself who claim to care for the environment yet drive and use central air con. You get the idea.
I thought I was on-board with small, green changes at least, but now now I'm not so sure. When we walked into Kroger for our quick weekly shopping trip, I was dismayed that half the lights were out. It was also almost as warm inside the store as it was outside. Great, I thought, they must be running on a generator. I jumped to this conclusion because following a freak storm a week ago Friday, more than one million Ohioans were without power and our neighborhood was hit pretty hard. Some still lack the magic juice. But everyone seemed to be shopping normally, and I wanted food, dammit. So onward we went.
I was a bit apprehensive about the perishable foods, like dairy items. The coolers seemed to be running normally, however, and I was pretty sure they wouldn't be if the store was on generator power. But that's when we noticed another strange event; the shelves were mighty bare. There was a giant hole on the shelf where the Chobani yogurt usually sat. The boy wanted Gatorade, but there was nary a bottle to be found. Same thing with our usual brand of lunch meat, my beloved feta cheese, and hummus. The fruit that was on the shelf was past its prime. I began to wonder if the stock crew was on strike.
By this point we were in produce and I was getting irritated. I asked an employee what the deal was, and he said the store was trying to conserve power because of the recent outages. He had no idea why they were out of so much stock, however.
Now, there was at least one day last week where our local electric provider, AEP, asked customers to conserve energy to prevent rolling blackouts as they brought more storm victims back online while some equipment was still out. If we didn't conserve, they warned, they would have to shut off some customers to keep the equipment from being overwhelmed. So I thought maybe there had been another call for conservation, but I hadn't heard a thing about it despite being online most of the day. After searching the issue online when I got home, I found absolutely no mention from our power company of further immediate needs to conserve power. So was this really a move to conserve energy, or was it a move to cut the company's costs?
Some of Kroger's conservation methods seemed better than others. Unplugging the extra displays of cold items that were set up in secondary locations to promote sales made perfect sense. These were no big loss since you could still find the items in their primary location.
At this point the boyfriend asked if I wanted to abandon cart and head to another Kroger, but I hate grocery shopping and we'd already invested time in that store. So I voted for pressing on.
By the time we checked out I was grumpy enough to think about shopping at a competitor in the future if the conservation program was going to stay in effect. Maybe it was the bare shelves that pushed me over the edge, but I didn't enjoy shopping in a hot, dark store either. Which made me wonder, am I being unreasonably grumpy about a change in the status quo? Is it really that big of a deal to be a little warm for our 45 minute weekly shop if it saves energy? And what about the employees who had to work all day in a warmer than normal store? Our cashier had a red face and looked even more grumpy than I felt.
We left with less than half of our normal groceries and I was in a bit of a huff, with a head full of questions. What do you think, do we need to start giving up some of our comforts today so we don't lose all of them in the future? In other words, am I being a giant baby who just needs to suck it up, or are there other ways my local Kroger could implement to conserve energy? I'm really interested in your thoughts.