Sunday, January 22, 2012

The green thing

The modern version of “green” is so tame. When it comes to recycling material, living without disposable goods, and leaving a smaller carbon footprint, the real experts are the long lived people who’ve been there, done that, they did it so much better, so long ago.

I saw this on a friend's status, and thought it was brilliant reminded me of growing up in the 60's Thanks Peter Pilt for reposting it.

Checking out at the grocery store recently, the young cashier suggested I should bring my own grocery bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment. I apologized and explained, ..."We didn't have this green thing back in my day." The clerk responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations." She was right about one thing -- our generation didn't have the green thing in “Our” day. So what did we have back then…? After some reflection and soul-searching on "Our" day here's what I remembered we did have.... 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 repeatedly. 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?

I can personally remember that we didn't have phones; we wound up our watches and alarm clocks. We drank water from the garden hose, walked across the city to get to a friend's house and to school every day. I can remember being woken at the crack of dawn as a child by the sound of a horse and buggy going up our street to deliver the milk to our door. I can remember our bread was delivered and we had to leave a bread tin at the door because the bread had no packaging, our fridge was powered by a block of ice again delivered to the door. Most of my pocket money was earned by collecting bottles and getting the 5 cents or less back for them. I often wondered why we went away from that system it seemed to be so simple and efficient. I often mowed our huge yard with a hand mower. If our parents needed to find us for dinner they would yell over the back fence and that neighbour would do the same until someone knew which house we were at and yell back, “Ashley, dinner's ready” but yes we didn’t have the green thing back then. Oh and we used cloth nappies...Can you still buy them?

I'm not sure I would want to go back to that era, I like my big screen TV, but it may be a good idea not to judge people till you have walked a mile or so in their shoes.


  1. Oh Yes Pastor Ash I remember it all sooooo well. Boiling cloth nappies till they practically 'squeaked', as a child hearing mums calling their kids in for dinner because we ALL played outside then........ yes somethings are vastly improved but unfortunately I think maybe we have lost a little something in the journey :) Anne N.