Interesting Information: That “Green Thing”

Interesting Information:  September 29, 2013

That “Green Thing”


Friend Jon Strother–who served with John Enright at Offutt Air Force Base 50 years ago, who was in our wedding honor guard with crossed swords outside the base chapel, and who lives in Northern Virginia in a town near Falls Church–sent me the following post.

I found it…sad…because we have drifted so far from the days when everyone actually “conserved” things.  I have been organizing the house and yard for fall and winter.  And, once again, I added yet another really good cardboard box to my stash in the garage attic.  I can’t just break them down and throw them away.  For one thing, a decent-sized one costs at least $6 if I don’t have one and want to mail a quilt.  For another, it just seems monumentally wasteful.

Today, goods come flying through the mail in these gorgeous boxes–and we just break them down and take them to the dump.  What’s wrong with us?  We can’t just keep on using up resources like this…  OK, I thought, so you’re getting to be like your mother, who filled up many of her kitchen cabinets with those little plastic tv dinner trays.  Only, there really wasn’t another use for those plastic slabs, and there is for a good box.  Or, for a good paper bag.

It’s so sad to me to see how much we have allowed the market to orchestrate our lives–so that paying to exercise, or not cooking your own food, or always having to have everything new, or endlessly drinking from plastic bottles and throwing them away, or throwing out a good box seems…normal.

I don’t know who wrote this piece.



Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the much 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 young 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 schoolbooks.  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 on the brown paper bags.

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. We didn’t have the “green thing” in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throwaway 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 in the family’s $45,000 SUV or van, which cost what a whole house did before the “green thing.”  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 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.

But isn’t it sad that 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” (don’t take it personal, just trying to make a point) who needs a lesson in conservation from a smartass young person…

We don’t like being old in the first place, so it doesn’t take much to piss us off…especially from a smartass who can’t make change without the cash register telling them how much.

The end!