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Sunday, 11 December 2011

The Green Thing

English: Greenpeace face-to-face fundraiser at...
Image via Wikipedia
I received the following as an email from a friend and, instead of gumming up the works by sending it to all my friends by email, I thought I'd spread it via the blog.

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.

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?

Please forward this on to another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conservation from a smartass young person.

Remember: Don't make old People mad!

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

I find my sympathies lie with both camps. As a Greenpeace supporter since the 1970s, I've long had a 'green' awareness. And, as a child of the post war years, I used to attend the local cinema 'free' simply for the price of 9 jam jars to be recycled. So I understand all of the above. The young, on the other hand, are not responsible for developing all the labour-saving devices that have evolved from our love affair with consumerism and technology. These have all come along at the hands of our generation or that of our children. The continued exploitation of the Earth's resources continues with the current generation who merely follow the example we have set. So, whilst it might be true that we did many things to re-use items and resources in our younger days, it is equally true that we did nothing to prevent the decline of such recycling and we did a great deal to ensure the success of the modern throw-away economy.
Lets's not blame one another for the state of the modern world. Instead, let's actually do something about it, by ensuring we avoid the worst excesses of consumerism and embrace the best practices of the ecologically sound.

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