Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Green Thing

The editor of the Citizens' Advocate, the Coppell newspaper I read and interned for several summers ago, posted this story that she had received from a friend in her opinion column last Sunday.  I had never heard it before, but it is definitely worth sharing.  I took a class on sustainability while at TCU and this immediately brought back everything I learned about and considered while I was taking the class, but of course is forgotten about in my daily life.  My generation is known for taking a stand on being conscientious about the environment, and modern technology has indeed made huge strides in efficiency, but I think we often overlook the ways people were less wasteful "back in the day."  This serves as a reminder.   

The Green Thing
In the line at the supermarket, the cashier told an older woman that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment.
The woman apologized to him and explained, "We didn’t have the green thing back in my day."
The clerk responded, "That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment."
He was right — our generation didn’t have the green thing in its day.
Back then, we returned milk bottles, pop bottles and beer bottles to the source. They sent them back to the plant to be washed, sterilized and refilled and re-used. So it could use the same bottles over and over. So they weren’t recycled ( until they broke ) they were re-used.
But we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.
We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have elevators and escalators in every shop and office building.
We walked to the local shops and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go to a supermarket.
We bought fruit and veg loose – and washed them at home.
We didn’t have to throw away bins full of plastic, foam and paper packaging that needs huge recycling plants fed by monster trucks all day, everyday.
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 the clothes.
Kids got hand-me-down (sometimes hand made or hand knitted) clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing shipped from the other side of the planet.
But that old lady is right; we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.
Back then shops repaired devices with funny things called spare parts – we didn’t need to throw whole items away because a small part failed.
Back then, we had one TV, one 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 Wales .
In the kitchen, we chopped, 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 newspaper 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 and hand clippers for the hedges.
We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a brightly lit, air conditioned health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity and then drink millions of bottles of that special water from those plastic bottles.
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 plastic cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water.
We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new plastic pen, and we replaced blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole plastic razor just because the blade got dull.
But we didn’t have the green thing back then.
Back then, people took the bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their parents into a 24-hour taxi service.
We had a couple of electrical outlets in a room, not a bunch of power bars each with a bank of sockets to power a dozen gadgets and appliances.
We didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest fish & chip shop.
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?
Remember, don't make old people mad.

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