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Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Comparisons: Yesterday and Today

From Johna Ferguson

[This is an anonymous item from the internet but I felt it is rather appropriate for us who grew up without “that green thing.”]

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 truly 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. We were then 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?

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Well said! I'm going to print this out and post it on my refrigerator! Perhaps we also need to do a whole lot more of what we did back then!

A brilliant essay! This post shows true and deep understanding of the human activities that contribute to environmental degradation. The root cause, of course, is too many humans competing for scarce resources.

Of the excess of FWD"s on the net, this has to be the cleverest, wisest and worth saving.

I, too, will save it, but please let's continue with our personal stories only.

Some things bear repeating, and this is one of them.
Thank you Johna, we need all the help we can get when it comes to what we did.

I am so happy we lived then, young people today have no idea.

Everyone above has said it better than I ever could. Simply wonderful!

Terrific - I will definitely pass this around - especially to my young environmentalist friends!


Loved this! So well said. I will share with the young people I work with.

I'm glad you shared this. I know this space if for personal stories, but I'm glad she made an exception this time. I remember once my kids told me how I didn't "get" technology. I reminded them how our generation put humans on the moon and all of the inventions that they take for granted. Yeah, older folks are on top of all of it, whether they like it or not.

Loved reading this. Grew up in Australia in the 1950s and 1960s. This brought back SO many good memories of how the older generation lived and how we contributed to the environment unlike the "entitled" generation of today!

The older folk missed the point. It was those among their generation who innovated their way away from those conservative habits described in this post. They then bequeathed this single use disposable wasteful society, with its ever expanding, land devouring energy wasting suburbs, and ever larger gas guzzling SUVs and oversized pickup tricks, to the next generations. The young cashier is right to be concerned.

“It’s not your fault the world is the way it is. It’s only your fault if it stays this way.” Or gets worse...

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