“Just go ahead, kill a tree.” Patrons declining to rent a stainless steel mug from the popular Baked Baker Bakery were repeatedly green-shamed, according to Marshal Buzz Lightyear. Lightyear said his office was besieged with complaints from both locals and tourists who encountered testy BBB staff in the last few weeks.
BBB is not the only place where patrons have been green-shamed, according to officials. A clerk at Marksuhp Market allegedly told a customer who asked for a plastic bag that “only whale-killers ask for plastic bags.” In another reported incident, this time at the Flibbertigibbet Bar, when a patron asked for a straw, he told police that the bartender slammed the straw on the bar, telling him, “Why don’t you cram it up a turtle’s nose.”
Green-shaming is nothing new in Columbia. Plastic bags were banned several years ago, much to the dismay of cat owners who rely on them for soiled litter box content disposal, not to mention shoppers who enjoyed carrying one or two items in a bag in case it rains. Also, an ordinance was passed in 2013 limiting how long cars were permitted to idle on Columbia’s streets. So far, prime offenders are summer visitors from Arizona and Texas who are cited for running their vehicles for as long as 30 minutes in order to cool car interiors to a frosty 61 degrees.
One angry diner at the Flop House Meat Palace was heard berating the waiter who brought him a vegan steak instead of the 64-ounce Porterhouse he’d ordered. Bo Backside, of Plano, Texas, said there was no such thing as a vegan steak. “That damn hippie said his conscience wouldn’t let him serve cow any longer and that together we could save the planet. I told him that was bull-pucky and to bring me my goddam beef.”
Though green-shaming has created results, such as new laws and the lessened availability of straws at many bars and dining establishments, the practice has failed with one Telluride demographic — the parents driving their kids to school instead of letting them walk or take the bus.
Chantilly Poshbottom, the mother of second- and fourth-grade students, defended driving them to the Columbia Elementary School from her home on North Oak Street. “My God, it’s three blocks away and it’s nearly freezing outside! They might slip on the ice, or get lost. And there are suspicious characters everywhere,” she said gesturing at a nearby snow shoveling crew.
Tourism board officials fear that Columbia’s reputation as a “greener than thou” community will be off-putting to visitors, but so far tourism numbers remain robust.