For the Love of :: Being Green

I received this email today. See my thoughts below after the email.

Being Green

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 young 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 schoolbooks. This was to ensure that public property, (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags.

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 throwaway 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 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.

But isn’t it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we 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…

We don’t like being old in the first place, so it doesn’t take much to piss us off.

When I started reading this email, I liked it. But as I read on, I started to get a little annoyed. It’s true, people used to do a lot more things by hand / without electricity.  People also spent more money to buy things that lasted longer than a year/season. And people were also not as quick to replace things that weren’t broken just because they were no longer fashionable. But I wonder how many of these “old people” still do all of these things? It would be great if they did! It seems to me that the “old people” were the ones who adopted all of the conveniences that this writer is criticizing.

I don’t buy bottled water, I ride my bike to the store if I can fit what I need in my basket, I would love to take a streetcar or trolley downtown but Minneapolis ripped out all of their streetcar lines in the 1950s (see my previous post about MSP’s steetcars), I have quite a few friends who use reusable diapers (no kids myself), and I used to cover my books with paper bags.

My husband and I have been making a conscious effort to consume less stuff (cause in the end, most of it is just stuff) for the last two years. For the last 6 months, I’ve refused to buy anything made in China if I can avoid it. Clothes are absolutely no exceptions, but it gets tough with electronics. It’s been my experience that items made in China just do not last, and they’re not meant to. These items are produced quickly and cheaply, and are meant to be replaced after a year or two.  It got a little tricky around Christmas, but I did it! My hubby embraced my goal, and all of the gifts he gave me were made in the U.S.

What are your thoughts about this email? Are you a “smartass young person” who likes to be green, or are you one of the “old people” who knows the real meaning of green?



3 thoughts on “For the Love of :: Being Green

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