That Green Thing

I received this email from a young friend (well she is one of my surrogate daughters really) and although I have seen it before I thought I would share it with you.  So if you have seen it already, please bear with me.

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.
  • 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 school books. This was to ensure that public property, (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribbling. Then we were able to personalize our books. 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 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 burger joint.

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

Use it up, wear it out, make it do,
or do without.
New England proverb


35 responses to “That Green Thing

  1. Sometimes progress for progresses sake just isn’t progress at all is it ?

  2. Amen! I will share this, Judith.

  3. Amen! Watched a movie from Argentina…the last line “La cosa tiene que durar.” = The thing has to last. Love it.

  4. Absolutely! Many, many things we did (and still do) that we did because that’s the way the world worked – and heck it worked a darn sight better before we had to ‘think green’. Just do things naturally – use again, mend, make do.

  5. we probably didn’t have the green thing, but our tastes were simpler, and we hated anything going to waste. Thanks for sharing Judith 🙂

  6. parentsfriend

    Loved being reminded of this Green thing. One of my rants is about the media dump on us old folk and is a good response.


  7. And we didn’t have smart phones we just had smarts…

  8. The electrical items my mother bought lasted a lifetime – cooker, vacuum cleaner, hair dryer and radio. Now everything seems to have an in-built self-destruct chip, which activates right after the extended warranty (that you paid extra for!) runs out. So you have to purchase replacements every five years or so – and the old one gets dumped. We didn’t even have a fridge but a cool dark pantry with a marble slab – or even an outside meat safe. And don’t get me started about ‘sell by’ or ‘use by’ dates – I’ve watched younger friends throw perfectly good food (still in it’s packaging!) into plastic waste sacks, because they bought too much and it’s a day or two ‘out of date’! Thanks for a really great post, Judith – even if it did stir me up! 🙂

    • My real pet hate is use by or sell by dates. I saw my daughter throw out a large pile of food from the freezer because it was past its use by date.
      And when I get angry about things like this, I think I must be close to my use by date.

      • I’ve mentioned this article and added the link, in the ‘Occupy Blogosphere’ piece which I intended to post this Week. But my daughter took part in a sponsored skydive – and, at the last minute, I wrote about that instead! I’m going to use the one I’d already written next Thursday, now. 🙂

  9. Amazing how all “the progress” we’ve made has backfired on us and the planet. Thanks, Judith.

  10. This was great, Judith! I never thought about how “green” we were without even knowing it. I remember cutting my grandfather’s lawn with a push mower. And we always walked the two miles to high school, no matter what the weather was.

  11. Christine in Los Angeles

    Judith, the mention of the razor reminded me that many men had a strop – a leather strap against which the straight-razor was sharpenedl and our Father had what was called an American Razor, which I believe he traded for with an American serviceman. Each morning, this was (somehow)sharpened by waggling a bent handle. I think we were quite grown before he had to replace it with another type razor.

    And when did cars need to go from 0 to 150 in 2 seconds? Well, I guess if you’d just robbed the bank …

    God bless, Christine

  12. Sometimes, I would really love to go back to a simpler time, when things were built to last and life was less complicated. Makes me wonder if all of the new technology is really worth the wasted material and resources.
    I really want one of those human powered push mowers. We had one when I was a kid and it was the coolest thing! Provided you kept the blades sharpened, it gave a nice clean cut to the lawn. I’ve even seen them built into a bicycle frame. How cool is that? No need for a gym membership with one of those. 😉

    • Thanks Pixy (I don’t know your real name, sorry). I get upset when I am told that an item cannot be repaired and it is cheaper to replace it. When did that happen?

  13. Ha, very nice post Judith…And very true too. The difference is you did all these things to be thrifty, and they do it to be green, but at the end of the day, what difference does it make? Same results 🙂

    • Well really Lady E we did it because we had no choice most of the time. I remember a slogan from the Second World War – Make Do And Mend. My mother certainly did that.

  14. I’ve read this before and yet, every time I read it, I smile at the memories and also shake my head at all the waste today!

  15. You are so right! What a great article…yeah, it’s the generation today that has to undo all the crap from their excesses. I came from the same days that you did, Judith. And you’re right we had no choice..we walked and biked all over the place…and made do. Thanks, Judith..really enjoyed this.
    Gayle ~

    • Thanks Gayle and mostly we did these things because there wasn’t a choice. Thanks for dropping in. I shall go over to look at your blog once I have read the 900 plus emails that were waiting for me on my return from 10 days away. 🙂

  16. Pingback: Nostalgia | I choose how I will spend the rest of my life

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