Doing the “Green Thing” For Our Planet

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 at and from 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’ in my earlier days.”

No. In those earlier days, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the bottling plants to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so the plants could use the same bottles.

In those days, 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.

We didn’t do the “green thing” back then. But we walked up stairs because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. And fewer people owned cars then, so we walked and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.

Those were the days when 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. We relied on wind and solar power to dry our clothes back then. And kids got hand-me-down clothes and shoes from their brothers, sisters, and cousins. Not everyone got brand-new clothing before the beginning of every school year. And foot-pedal sewing machines repaired many of those clothes.

Most houses had one TV or radio. Lucky was the kid who had either or both in their bedroom. 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.

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.

Back then, the kids who didn’t ride a school bus either 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.”

And when we wanted a burger, 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 where cashiers can’t make change without the cash register telling them how much.

It’s sad that the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were when it’s they who need a lesson in conservation to save our environment for future generations.

8 thoughts on “Doing the “Green Thing” For Our Planet

    1. Steve Campbell

      I recall going to the dump once a week (usually Saturday) and seeing people taking items like TVs and appliances away to reuse. One local merchant used to rebuild TVs, radios, ovens, washing machines, and dryers from those thrown away parts and sell at his store. Today he couldn’t sell rebuilt items. Today he has to have a manufacturer’s warranty of authenticity. Another ploy of big businesses squashing little businesses and adding to the world’s waste problem.

    2. Our dumps take all matters to recycle, then firms come in and take them to there factories and sort and dismantle them and then the parts are sent to be recycled, its easy.

    3. Steve Campbell

      Hopefully, and soon, my town will start such a smart program. Right now, they just bury the garbage in a landfill.

  1. This is a fantastic post, Steve-o, and so much truth to it. Back before “the green thing” it was a simpler time with more manpower and ambition and sincere effort involved in every endeavor. My generation entered into the world on the cusp of “The Good Ole Days” vs. “The Green Thing Days,” but those born just a few years later than myself have experienced the world in an entirely different way, where EVERYthing was/is geared toward “convenience”. “The green thing” is better than nothing at all, but as my Dad always used to say, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch,” and that “convenience” has a steep price that has, unfortunately, been paid for by the planet at a debt that will have to be felt by many more generations to come.

    1. Steve Campbell

      In the name of convenience, the future of world waste looks scarier every day. And both of us know big corporations like the one I work for is more concerned with how much money they can make selling convenience. That entity tells us to “Shop smart, live better” as though it offers us a place of smart shopping. It doesn’t. It gives us shoddy merchandise that ends up in landfills faster than better made merchandise. To shop smart, live better would be to not shop at these kinds of stores. The better business is the one that returns to past manufacturing and processing ways that enhanced the recycling process and is savvy enough not to pollute the environment in the process.

      P.S., Dewey says “Hey!”

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