I stopped into a small local store recently, The Paper Pedlar. After being in the gift-wrap business since 1950, the owners are retiring and everything was 70% off. There wasn’t much left to buy but I found some boxes of taper candles, a couple rolls of wrapping paper, glider planes, pens, and eraser party favors for the grands, and a nice wicker basket that I’m sure I’ll find some use for.
I’m always a bit sad when a local store closes and this one is no exception. It’s been a reliable go-to for gift wrap, sold at a discount; paper party goods, stationery items, and gifts. I’m even sadder that the historic building is being razed, along with a few of its neighbors, for a Wawa market.
I think the owners may have tried to sell the business if they weren’t being forced out. It’s successful, convenient, and they were ever so helpful. I don’t quite understand the need for another market, as there’s a Shop-Rite next door.
Wandering around the near-empty store, I remembered the many parties where I carefully selected colorful paper plates, napkins, and plastic ware. My basement still holds many leftovers. I resisted buying more.
I’m trying to move away from single-use products. I ordered reusable mesh bags for produce and bring my own bags to the market. I have plenty of cloth napkins so they can replace paper. I’m trying but don’t feel it’s nearly enough. So many foods come shrink-wrapped, or atop unrecyclable Styrofoam trays. So many non-food items come triple wrapped in plastic difficult to remove.
Remember The Graduate, the 1967 movie, starring a young Dustin Hoffman playing a recent college graduate, Benjamin Braddock. He’s given this advice:
Mr. McGuire: I want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Benjamin: Yes, sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Benjamin: Yes, I am.
Mr. McGuire: Plastics.
Benjamin: Exactly how do you mean?
Mr. McGuire: There’s a great future in plastics. Think about it….
There’s very little in our daily lives that doesn’t involve something plastic. And we’ve created a monster. Our reliance on plastics has pervaded the environment; many types aren’t recyclable. The story about a dead whale found with 80 pounds of plastic in its stomach should scare us all.
Last week, teenagers around the globe participated in a strike to draw attention to climate change and the environment. We haven’t been very good stewards of the Earth; I’m worried about the planet I’m leaving my grandchildren and their children. Thankfully these teenagers are taking action where world leaders have failed. Earth Day is next month. Let’s act.