Grocery Shopping is Pretty Radical, Actually
In the context of the entire history of our planet, the buying of a supermarket product remains a radical and unnatural act. If you visualise the history of planet Earth in the old metaphor, as a single 24-hour day, the planet doesn’t even have plant-life on it until almost 10.30pm. A little after 11.30pm the dinosaurs become extinct, and just a few seconds before the very last minute of the day starts, at 11.59pm, human history begins.
Our human lives are so short relative to the history of Earth that the daily activities we undertake in this blink of time called the modern era are just a minute blur. And yet, in this tiny span of time the impact of the things we are buying is so immense that all non-microbial life on this planet may be extinguished by as early as the middle of this century. That’s only three and a half decades away.
Every item we buy is ringing not just through a checkout, but back through time, with the immensity of the implications that surround it. Yet we go on about our days as if life has always been like this. It has not. And it will not continue like this for very much longer either. In the lifetimes of many of us here today, everyday life will change not just considerably, but dramatically.
So the seemingly inconsequential act of buying a quick soft drink at the convenience store, or taking the chemical-impregnated receipt at the checkout turns out not to be inconsequential after all. Not in the moment, and not relative to the billions of years it took our planet and the millions of years it took our species to get all the way up to “now”.
In the context of the history of Earth, every single item you ever purchase from any store anywhere, is like a giant pile driver pounding the planet. The less “conscious” the brand, the bigger and more harmful that pile driver is. Now multiply that activity by all the items and transactions you make in the course of a week, and then multiply it by the 7 billion people in the world, and you can maybe begin to imagine the pressure we’re creating with our current approach to life.
Humanity doesn’t need to remain a destructive species. We can begin to move into balance with the Earth, so that our presence doesn’t have destructive consequences, but rather becomes a part of the natural ebbs and flows of the planet itself. As individuals, what we can begin to do now is to bring the acts of mindfulness and consideration to every purchase we make. And in particular, those purchases we make routinely, week in and week out. The supermarket purchases. The next time you’re in the supermarket, and you know, no matter who you are, there will be almost always be a “next time”, remember that each purchase you make is a radical and largely unnatural act. Even your smallest purchases are revolutionary. You have more power than you ever realised, so think just a little bit more before you wield it, and at the very least try to choose to support those products and brands who will help humanity to find a gentler, more balanced way.