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The "Green Thing"

Updated on July 20, 2011

I just got this in an email. I'm not sure who originally wrote this, so please let me know!

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

The woman apologized to her and explained, "We didn't have the green thing back in my day."

The clerk responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment."

He 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 the clothes. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that old 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 a wadded up old newspaper 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.

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    • myhomestudios profile imageAUTHOR

      myhomestudios 

      7 years ago from Vancouver

      I agree with you on the energy efficient disposable things. The current market (average user) seems to go through two cell phones per year. Multiply that by 15,000,000 people, and that's A HUGE waste!

    • BWD316 profile image

      Brian Dooling 

      7 years ago from Connecticut

      Although I'm young and into the "green thing" I still enjoyed your article. It is not so much the generation that you describe as the wasteful ones; it’s the generation from the last 20-30 years where things began to change. After World War II and suburban sprawl, mass production of goods and this need to buy disposable materials to get people back to buy more really took hold, causing a lot of problems like the diapers and water bottles(more recent). The sad thing is energy efficient products are at an all time high, except we have so many of them now (cell phones, computers, and mp3) that it hasn't made a difference in energy use from 30 years ago. Personally I think we could learn a lot about sustainability from the past, add them to new ideas of the present and the future of our environment and lives look a little bit brighter! Voted up!

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