Tuesday, July 10, 2012

We Weren't GREEN

Checking out at the store the young cashier suggested to the older woman that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment.

The woman apologized and explained. "We didn't have this  green thing back in my earlier days."

 The young clerk responded,  "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations."

 She was right -- our generation didn't have the green thing in its day.  

 Back then we returned milk bottles soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.

 But we didn't have the green thing  back in our day.

 Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags that we reused for numerous things.  Most memorable, besides household garbage bags, was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our schoolbooks.This was to ensure that public property (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags.

 But too bad we didn't do the green thing back then.

 We walked up stairs because we didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.

 But she was right. We didn't have the green thing in our day.

 Back then we washed the baby's diapers because we didn't have the throwaway kind. We dried clothes on a line not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts -- wind and solar power really did dry  your clothes back in our early days.  Kids got hand-me-down clothes from  their brothers or sisters not always brand-new clothing.  And we didn't have refrigerators running 24X7, we used ice. (See June Blog - The Ice Man...).

 But that young lady is right -- We didn't have the green thing  back in our day.

 Back then we had one TV or radio in the house -- not a TV in every room; and the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember?) Not a screen the size of the state of Montana . In the kitchen we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us.

When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then we didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power.  We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

 But she's right we didn't have the green thing back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

 But we didn't have the green thing back then.

 Back then people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.

 But isn't it sad that the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the green thing back then?

Now friends, I hope this doesn't sound like "Self Justification" for an older generation.  It just provides a perspective.  And,  it is so good that people today are concerned enough to try to be green in light of all of the technology that has changed life in our country over the last 100 years.  


Unknown said...

Excellent perspective! Thank you!

kevin said...

And don;t forget dad, we walked six miles to school everyday, and it was uphill both ways! :-]
You are right though, You and I both did many of those things. I still remember cutting up paper bags to cover my school books with. I also remember putting dead bats that were in our house in them, and making eye holes and drawing a face and wearing them for halloween. Those were really the best of times, thanks to you and mom!

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