The Green Thing

This has been doing the rounds recently. What do you think? (My thoughts at the bottom.)

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 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.

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 throw-away 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 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. 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 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza 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.

Remember this…

Don’t make old people mad. We don’t like being old in the first place, so it doesn’t take much to upset us. If it is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.

Helpful (and amusing) in some ways – it reminds us of some ways of life, commonplace in the lifetime of many, which if returned to would be very helpful in improving sustainability.

It also challenges us on the blame game. Yes, the baby boomer generation which grew up in this world has subsequently gone on to cause a vast amount of waste and damage to the environment. But in many respects they cannot be blamed – the effects were not then known.

But they cannot be unambiguously praised either. With a few honourable exceptions, they seem to have acted in a “green” way out of necessity, not of choice, and the minute higher levels of consumption became possible, most of them went for it. Although interestingly, as John Michael Greer notes about half-way down his post, the preceding generation, who grew up in the Depression, were sufficiently affected by it to keep greener attitudes.

The real crux of the matter is: now that the issues are known more clearly, have they attempted to go back to their more sustainable childhood patterns (to the extent that it is possible). Not really. Then again, neither have most of us younger ones either.

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1 Comment

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One response to “The Green Thing

  1. √ ¬ It is the same concept as the schools selling junk food to our kids in schools, and then claiming that they are not to blame.

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