Sunday, May 22, 2011
The Green Thing
In the line at the store, the cashier told the older woman that she
should bring her own grocery bag 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. The former
generation did not care enough to save our environment."
He was right, that generation didn't have the green thing in its
Back then, they returned their 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 they didn't have the green thing back in that customer's day.
In her day, they walked up stairs, because they didn't have an
escalator in every store and office building. They walked to the
grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every
time they had to go two blocks.
But she was right. They didn't have the green thing in her day.
Back then, they washed the baby's diapers because they didn't have
the throw-away kind. They 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 clothes from their
brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.
But that old lady is right, they didn't have the green thing back
in her day.
Back then, they 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, they blended and stirred by hand because they didn't have
electric machines to do everything for you.
When they packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, they used a
wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic
Back then, they didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to
cut the lawn. They used a push mower that ran on human power. They
exercised by working so they didn't need to go to a health club to
run on treadmills that operate on electricity.
But she's right, they didn't have the green thing back then.
They drank from a fountain when they were thirsty instead of using
a cup or a plastic bottle every time they had a drink of water.
They refilled their writing pens with ink instead of buying a new
pen, and they replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of
throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.
But they 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 rode the school bus instead of turning their
moms into a 24-hour taxi service. They had one electrical outlet in
a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances.
And they 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 pizza joint.
But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful the
old folks were just because they didn't have the green thing back
from the mountain