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.