Friday, December 30, 2011

I'm not green?

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 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 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?


Lorraine said...

Thank you for this. I remember many ways my grandmother was way 'greener' than a lot of the 'green' crowd is today. Like the neighbors of a friend who cut down the lovely shady trees in their front yards to install solar panels on their roof. Just because something is "new" doesn't mean it's necessarily right or that we don't have something to learn from the older generation.

And umm wow...that also seems a bit rude to say to someone in a customer service setting. Something else that's been lost in this generation? Manners.

Geez I'm 28 and I sound like my grandmother but...she's a wise woman so heck. lol

Anonymous said...

I'm blaming the 60's-80's generations who were the ones when disposable and computer came of age.

Diandra said...

Well, many "older folks" jumped on every new technology that made life easier. Because it made life easier. Easy living is great. I think what the young woman tried to communicate (and failed, somehow) is that the realization that we need to get out of our comfort zone to preserve our living environment has been a rather young one. When things were recycles, it was not because the environment needed saving, but because the materials were expensive and precious. Thus: Doing the right things for the wrong reasons. Still, doing the right things.

(I always bring my own plastic bags, walk shorter distances and take public transportation for longer ones and refuse to buy a laundry drying machine. My parents and the BF think I am mad. They are also slightly scared of me, that is why I usually get my will.)

Hermit Witch said...

I agree with Lorraine about manners, what an appaling thing to say to a customer! It is true we didn't think about saving the planet years ago, but then there wasn't the luxery of information at our fingertips for my grandma's generation. The reasons for it may have been different but my Grandma was far 'greener' in her everyday routines without even thinking than most of us are today despite our best efforts. One of my happiest childhood memories is of helping my gran put sheets through the mangle. How many people today would do that?

amy Law said...

I seriously can't believe she said to you. She may think she is green, but she seriously needs to learn manners. She is very lucky it was you a lot of people would have complained on her.