Friday, August 12, 2011

The green thing...

Those of you who know my bent toward a simpler, more earth friendly way of life won't be surprised by this rehash of an email I received recently...

It was simply titled "The green thing."

In a line at the grocery store, the cashier told an elderly woman she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags aren't good for the environment.

The woman apologized and said simply "We didn't have the green thing back in my day."

Then the clerk responded, "That's our problem today.  Your generation didn't care enough to save our environment."

Well, let's see...

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

We walked up and down stairs because there wasn't an elevator and/or escalator in every store and office building.  And we walked to the grocery store rather than climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.

Baby's diapers were washed because the throw away kind didn't exist yet.  We dried clothes on the line, not in a 220-volt energy gobbling machine.  Gee, wind and solar power really did dry the laundry...  And kids got hand-me-down clothes from older brothers and sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

There was one tv, or radio, in the house... not a television in every room.  And the tv had a screen the size of a handkerchief 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 it for us.

And when we packaged up a fragile item to send in the mail, it was cushioned by wadded up newspaper not plastic bubbles and styrofoam peanuts.

We didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn.  We used a push mower than ran on human power.  We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club and run on treadmills powered by electricity.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle for every sip of water.  We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying new pens.  And we replaced razor blades in our razors rather than throwing it away and buying a new one when the blade got dull.

We rode streetcars or the bus to work and kids rode bikes or walked to school instead of turning mom into a 24-hour taxi service.  We had one electrical outlet per room not a bank of outlets to power a dozen different small kitchen appliances.  And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

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

It's sad to lament how wasteful, selfish and unenlightened prior generations were/are just because they didn't have "the green thing."  Maybe instead of just assigning blame, it's time to learn from the people who went before us.  If they made a mistake it was in providing the newest conveniences as we grew up because they wanted things to be better and easier for us than they had.

I'm old enough to remember most of the things that email mentioned... along with riding in the back of a pick up, swimming in the canal, being reprimanded by a friend's parents if I misbehaved at their house.  I had my butt swatted at school, rode my bike without a helmet, drank from the hose, fell out of the neighbor's apple tree, didn't get picked for a team, and I ate white bread, real butter and koolade made with sugar.  And stunningly, not only did I survive... but no one got sued!

We all just need a whole lot less "green things" and a whole lot more common sense.


jweb711724 said...

Amen sister!

latter-daymom said...

Love this story!

Brenda said...

Thank you for making me feel better about my 1-year old tv. I tell everyone that I'll buy an awesome flat screen when this tv dies, but it's still hanging on! Hopefully no one will ever replace me because a new sleek fancy model comes out...