That green thing

By kind permission of Marty Lancaster

An old lady was checking out at the store, when the young cashier suggested she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags aren’t good for the environment. The old lady apologized and explained, “We didn’t have this green thing back in our day.  The clerk responded, “That’s our problem today, your generation didn’t care about saving the environment,”

The old lady was right — our generation didn’t have the green thing back then.  We returned every bottle to the store, which sent them back to the different plants to be sterilized and refilled; the same bottles were used over and over. But we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

We walked up stairs in most buildings. 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 then. Kids got hand-me-down clothes, not always brand-new. But that young lady is right; we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV for the whole house, not one per room, and it had a screen the size of a handkerchief, not the size of Northern Ontario. 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 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 plastic drinking bottles. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of throwing pens away and buying new ones. 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 or dads 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?

Please forward this on to another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conservation from a smart ass young person. We don’t like being old in the first place, so it doesn’t take much to piss us off.