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Texas, United States


The Green Thing

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the much older lady that she should bring her own grocery bags, because plastic bags are not good for the environment.
The woman apologized to the young girl 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."
The older lady said that she was right -- our generation didn't have the "green thing" in its day. The older lady went on to explain:

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 school books. 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 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 blade in a r azor 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 in the family's $45,000 SUV or van, which cost what a whole house did before the"green thing." 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?


Bouncin Barb said...

We truly did have these things didn't we? Times were so much simpler and we weren't as spoiled as the kids are now. They just don't understand and live in the age of the internet. I loved my book covers. I doodled and used colors on them. My school bus stop was about a 1/2 mile away. I wore my brother's hand me downs at home as a kid and even their bicycles. We grew up in the best of times in my opinion.

Anna Maria said...

Yes Barb, we did and it was a much simpler time back then. We didn't even have a phone in our home until I grew up and married. I loved "personalizing" my book covers also. Compared to the stress of today, I do think we grew up in the best of times. :)

DMS said...

I enjoyed this post. I have always thought that most of the generations before mine were actually the greenest because life was so different and people weren't trying to do everything "fast". My grandma always told me she hated that people stopped bringing their own bags to the grocery store and that fast food caused a lot of trash. She mentioned many of the same things you discussed in this post (one or no tv/radio, walking more places, etc.). When I was growing up she used to mow her lawn with the spinning mower and I thought that was so cool!

Personally, brown bag book covers were my favorite. :)

I think things were less stressful in a lot of ways before everything became so fast and "electronic".

Anna Maria said...

I agree Jess...I've heard educators say the cell phone is the most disruptive thing education has ever had to deal with. I'm still not sure why they quit making kids cover their books...that was one of the my favorites also...and I walked to school clear across our little town from Kindergarten thru 5th grade and meeting up with friends on the way was always fun. We don't know what we have until it's gone.

oneperson said...

We used to kick gravel rocks along the road as we walked to and from school. Each of us would pick out a rock and see if we could kick it all the way home, which was a few miles.

Enjoyed this reminder Anna! <3

Anna Maria said...

Carol...I was a rebel and didn't wear shoes to school the first five years much so I didn't kick many rocks and tried to walk mostly on the grass. :)

Stephanie Faris said...

I remember people putting brown paper bags over their school books so they could decorate them! That was the 80s. I think big hair in the 80s is to blame for a lot of the global warming we see. Do you realize how much Aqua Net we used?!

Anna Maria said...

Stephanie...LOL! Yes...I'm sure hairspray has played a "big" hair problem with global warming. :D

Linda said...

Lots of childhood memories here that I can relate to, as I am a baby boomer, born in 1956. Simpler times...and I agree, Anna Maria, I think we grew up in the best of times. Warm greetings from Montreal, Canada. :)

Anna Maria said...

Thanks for visiting Linda...I was a teenager in the 1950's and I still think it was the best of times...we didn't spend all out time attached to non existence cell phones, we were busy dancing to early rock and roll. :)