Monday, October 1, 2012

Were People Environmentally Friendly Way Back When?

I received the text below in an email from my brother some time last week and decided to share it with you. For a few reasons. The main one being that it is quite entertaining because there’s some truth to it. And it reflects what life was like when my parents were growing up, and what it was like when I was a kid...until my generation, give or take a few years, starting taking over. Things have certainly changed since then...

An Elderly Person’s Perspective On Being Green

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'.

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 school books. This was to ensure that public property, (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books.
But too bad we didn't do the green thing back then.

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... 'w
e 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 burger 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'?

Every generation points fingers at the previous generation(s) for real or imagined offenses. I believe that every generation is guilty of one thing or another, and that we should always concentrate on moving forward and making this world a better place.


  1. In some ways we were and in some ways we weren't conscious of the environment back then.
    One thing that did stand out to me in this article was that I don't think the kids turned their parents into 24-hour taxi services. It was that the parents allowed it to happen, without questioning why and how they got there.

    1. I totally agree with you, Jim --- the parents have allowed it to happen. It's not hard to say 'no'!

  2. Certainly with our greater awareness should come a greater responsibility to change the world's direction from one of self-destruction. I think every generation contributed to some extent to the environmental problems we face today; it's cumulative. However previous generations didn't notice or feel the effects as much, so they just kept on, making "progress", making things like cars, and plastics, and disposables.. things we couldn't imagine existing without today..

    1. That is exactly what I think == it's cumulative. And it'll keep going this way unless we do something about it.

  3. I remember all of those things. We had a milkmen, a breadman and an eggman who delivered their products to our house. And one of them - probably the breadman came in a horse and buggy. That was the 1950s in Ontario. Thanks for the post, Martha!

    1. That is amazing, Francie! A horse-drawn buggy in the 50s going door to door. I didn't have that growing up in the city, but we did have a milkman coming by to deliver eggs and milk. That was in the 60s.

  4. First of all, I probably would have told that cashier to kiss my $%%$#. After that I would explain all those things that they can't do without that is bad for landfills. Such as cellphones, computers, ipads, game consoles, game cases, water bottles, Styrofoam fast food containers and on and on.

    1. That is exactly what my husband said, WebDebris. Not about kissing his a$$...LOL...but about all the crap, all those gizmos and gadgets filling up our landfills that they not only can't do without, but that they NEED to replace regularly to keep up with the latest and greatest. And to keep up with their peers. But no one wants to talk about that...