Thursday, November 06, 2008

The 145th good thing about Lagos: a recycling culture

(The internet seems to be running a bit faster this morning, so I thought I'd try uploading a picture or two -- we'll see if it works.)

Shopping here is an interesting experience. I can never plan on getting everything I need in one trip. Yesterday I planned to stop at a store to pick up a few things after my tennis match -- what I needed most was some flour, but, of course, the shelves at that store were totally empty of flour. They did have some sickly looking heads of iceberg lettuce, which are often hard to find here. But I passed when I saw the price -- about $12 for a small head. I'll stick with the local leaf lettuce. Most things seem to be about 3 times the price of goods in the States -- I consider items a bargain if they are just twice the cost. But don't feel bad for me -- we get a cost of living adjustment and I bet we make money on the deal (though I'm not telling that to anyone in HR).
I looked in several stores for a liquid measuring cup, as ours had broken and I still haven't found one -- no measuring cups stocked of any variety. In the third store I stopped at they had flour and also a bag of Parade brand of light brown sugar -- a real find at about $7 (often the only thing available is a British kind of "treacle sugar" which doesn't cook the same as American brown sugar).
I often go to this store out in the mall on Saturday and it's always very busy then and I have to fight my way through the crowds (the picture above was of the check-out lines on a Saturday morning). It was much easier to shop on a weekday. Shopping at a grocery store like this is for wealthy people in Nigeria. The food is much more hygenic and nicely packaged and, thus, more expensive than the masses can afford. Packaging often gets a second use here -- our maid takes our plastic soda bottles and either uses them or sells them. She was picking them out of our garbage until we realized that she wanted to save them and now we usually remember to leave them out for her. In the States I try to recycle things when I can, though our garbage pickup itself doesn't sort recyclables. And I generally am pleased when things get a second use, so the knowledge that our garbage is picked through doesn't bother me (I'm careful to shred anything with personal information on it). But I guess some people are disturbed by the reuse of some items as there may be suspicions about where things really come from. The stores stock "Funtana" eggs, a name which amuses me because it sounds like the name for an amusement park and I picture chickens on Ferris wheels with eggs dropping down conveyors that look like water park slides. I got a chuckle when I picked up a carton of eggs (a food bargain here at around $3) and they had this new "Consumer Alert" sticker.

It's hard to read in this picture, so I'll tell you what it says:


Something new to worry about in this dangerous world: Are dubious people re-using YOUR egg cartons?

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