I don’t usually pay much attention to emails that circulate around the internet, like how there is a 98 percent chance that if you travel out of the country, you will wake up in your hotel room bathtub with your kidneys removed and instructions to call 9-1-1.
However, the following email arrived in my inbox yesterday that really struck a chord with me (I have no idea who the original author is):
Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman that she should 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 clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not 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.
We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. 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 our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that young lady is right. 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 (remember them?), 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 when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. 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. 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 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 we old folks were just because we didn’t have the green thing back then?
What struck me about this post isn’t so much about the ‘green’ movement, but more about how life was so much simpler when even I was a kid in the 70s. I totally remember using a push lawnmower with rotating blades. (We did switch over to gas eventually. I do like that those old-fashioned lawn mowers are coming back ‘in-style’).
I also can’t tell you how many miles I walked in a week. I walked to and from school, to the store, to friend’s houses, everywhere. I don’t think being driven around to sports and such was even invented yet! It was either on foot or by bike, period. (We were all much thinner too!)
There are a million ways that life was different when I was a kid than they are now. I have to admit though, I miss a lot of the ‘old’ ways. And, whoever originally wrote this email was right- we probably didn’t consume nearly as much oil/gas/electricity back then. However, it wasn’t because we were being ‘green’, it was more because technology hadn’t advanced far enough yet.
I wonder where we will be in 100 years? Will obesity be the norm? Will the ONLY sports being played be organized? (We are close to that now.) Will babies be potty trained in-utero? It is hard for me to envision what life will be like that far in the future considering how much things have changed in just 35 years.
What are you thoughts? Did you ever use a push lawnmower? Do you remember having only one TV in the house?