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The Green Thing
by Carasue Moody

We are still seeking a solution to the plastic bag reduction or out-right banning. Many states have passed laws but not enforced them. Stores handing out plastic bags to customers were directed to collect the used bags for recycling and make usable bags available for purchase. Recycling bins have been placed in stores for return but that then becomes the responsibility of the consumer. This in theory is to keep the bags from ending up on the roadways and streams. But the recycling companies who collect them say the bags can clog and slow sorting machines, making them a costly and inconvenient setback for recycling centers.

Which leads me to the good old days, for those of us who grew up before the days of plastic bags and recycling. Someone sent the following to me. I am not sure of the author but it rings so true.

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the much older lady that she should bring her own grocery bags, because plastic bags are not good for the environment.

The woman apologized to the young girl 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.”

The older lady said that she was right—our generation didn’t have the ‘green thing’ in its day. The older lady went on to explain:

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 store bagged out 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 scribbling. 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 very 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 and 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 was 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 blade 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 the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn’t have the ‘green thing’ back then?

Please pass this on to another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conversation 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 …especially from a smartass who can’t make change without the cash register telling them how much.

Yes, this is a little dramatic and yes, progress in some fields are lifesaving as well as time saving, but doesn’t it make you think what this progress has done.