On Being Green

The following came to me from a family member … I thought it was worth sharing so, enjoy.

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 our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

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 the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), 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. We had one
electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances.

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

When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not plastic bubble wrap or Styrofoam peanuts. 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. After school the kids got together to play baseball, football or hockey depending on the season. They didn’t need an expensive facility to play in, fancy uniforms, or even a coach. The idea that parents would get up at 5 am and drive their kid 40 miles to an arena for hockey practice would have been inconceivable.  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 the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn’t have the green thing back then?

Please forward this on to another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conservation from a smartass young person…

We don’t like being old in the first place, so it doesn’t take much to piss us off.

Thank You


1 Comment

  1. Yep – all of the above. Guess that makes me old. Well, only the fancy homes had glass milk bottles.

    I will note, however, that the list of things to do with paper grocery bags was inadequate. Yes, to wrap garbage, and I still have some books covered in old brown paper bags. But they also make awesome cat toys, and fabulous masks on a rainy afternoon. They were the perfect thing for wrapping packages to go in the mail. For a brief moment they stood in for a potato sack if you wanted to race your brother in the living room. Clothes going to “the goodwill” were always washed, dried on the line outside, and folded neatly into paper bags for donation. Blowing them up and wrapping a string around the neck created a head for a scarecrow – as long as it stayed in the house.

    But best of all, one day my dad bought some candy. He told us whoever found it could have it. We didn’t find it! He had put it in a brown paper bag on the floor in the laundry room. All 3 of us kids walked past it, saw it, looked around it – but never looked in. Magic, secret, hiding places for all kinds of excellent stuff!

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