Doing the “Green Thing”

This isn’t my creation. A friend sent it to me via email and I felt compelled to post it here. I see this generation gap all too often where I work and just by observing life around me.

While checking out groceries at a store, a young cashier suggested to a much older woman that she should “go green” and 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 didn’t 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. No. Our 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 doodles.

But too bad we didn’t do the “green thing” back then. It’s too bad we walked up stairs because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. And it’s too bad we walked and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.

The young lady 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.) And kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But 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, 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 instead of buying our water in plastic bottles. 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 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?

Please forward this on to another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conservation from a smart mouthed young person… especially from one who can’t make change without the cash register telling them how much.