“The Green Thing”

I received this from my friend Gary today and thought it was worth sharing.  We tend to think we know what is important today, but what is written here is eye-opening.  Everyone is busy, trying to make sure that everything gets done, keeping up with the latest technology and truly trying to do what is right.  The statements in Italics are my comments.


In the line at the store, the cashier told the older woman that she should bring  her own grocery bag because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment. The  woman apologized to him and explained, “We didn’t have the green thing back in my day.”

The clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. The former generation did not care enough to save our environment.”

He was right, that generation didn’t have the green thing in its day.

Back then, they returned their 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 recycledAnd lots of families did not have 2 cars, so imagine the savings by not rushing off to the supermarket for every little item!

But they didn’t have the green thing back in that customer’s day.

In her day, they walked up stairs, because they didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. They walked to the grocery store and didn’t  climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time they had to go two blocks.   If you needed to go 2 blocks from your home, would you drive there or ride a bike or walk? Most people would drive.  That deprives your body of exercise, deprives your children of the experience of riding bikes with you or taking a walk with you, it pollutes the air and it requires that you own and maintain another vehicle. 

But she was right. They didn’t have the green thing in her day.

Back then, they washed the baby’s diapers because they didn’t have the throw-away kind. They dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine  burning up 220 volts – wind and solar power really did dry the clothes.  It cost nothing. Think about the cost of the diapers-for the 2 to 3 years your child uses them. That money could add to the family’s income by not being spent.

Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. In defense, many people have discovered the second- hand and thrift stores today. When my daughter was very young, I loved purchasing used clothing in great shape for lots of her playclothes. Then when I saw an item that would have seemed to be a luxury, I felt I could splurge and purchase it for her! It was  a great trade off.

But that old lady is right, they didn’t have the green thing back in her day.

Back then, they 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, not a screen the size of   the state of Montana.  I remember taking turns choosing shows with my sister on Saturday mornings. It was not a sacrifice at all.

In the kitchen, they blended and stirred by hand because they didn’t have  electric machines to do everything for you.  We did have a mixer, but no juicers, food processors, indoor grills, etc.

When they packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, they used a wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

Back then, they didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn.  They used a push mower that ran on human power. They exercised by working so they didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she’s right; they didn’t have the green thing back then.

They drank from a fountain when they were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time they had a drink of water. And no young children were drinking soft drinks at all!

They refilled their writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and they replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

But they 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 rode the school bus instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. It would have been  shocking to see the lines of parents dropping off and picking up kids at school, really a ridiculous concept!

They had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And they 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 that the current generation laments how wasteful the old folks were just because they didn’t have the green thing back then?

And I will add my two cents’ worth.  It is true that we have many improvements  that appear to make our lives easier today. If you look more carefully, you will see that some of the improvements cost us in many ways.  Preparing food is enjoyable, satisfying, provides heathier meals and costs less than prepared foods. Many of our conveniences give us too much opportunity and time and encourage us to NOT USE OUR BODIES.  Now I know what I am saying sounds extreme, but there is value to NOT using modern conveniences…like this computer.  Imagine if you had no computer and had to actually call or see your family and friends or maybe even stepped outside and spoke with a neighbor! It sounds crazy, doesn’t it?.  I suggest that we not throw  the baby out (as the expression goes) with the bath water and re-evaluate where we might adjust some of our practices.   If you look around, you might be surprised at what you could cut that would not really be such a big deal. Think of quality, not quantity[ think of value. Imagine playing a game with your children or friends  instead of having everyone in separate rooms playing electronic games (or in the case of the friends, instead of sitting around eating and drinking more!).  I could go on and on…sometimes it’s more fun and more valuable to plant and maintain a garden with children, family, friends, rather than look at it as one more thing that must be done for the house to look appealing. It is actually fun!  The same goes for cooking with each other rather than going out to eat.  You can turn your nose up when you hear these ideas, but many people are suffering with our national economic situation, high gas prices, loss of jobs, healthcare costs and just trying to keep their heads above water….not to mention the feelings of isolation..maybe some of this could help you to have a better life.

This is MeddlingMom….be green, happier, healthier and re-evaluate…think VALUE.


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2 Responses to ““The Green Thing””

  1. Jodine Says:

    Right on! The old lady may have grown up in the Great depression, lie my parents did, and they saved everything, string, electric cords, the cellophane their underwear came wrapped in, because they firmly believed they would use it again.
    They collected cans and God knows what during the second world war because every scrap of aluminum and silk was needed for the war effort. my mother drew lines up the back of her legs to mimic the lines on silk stockings!
    And our families had one car and one TV. I lived in Key West, Fla., in 1962 when the local (only) movie house advertised that it had — wait for it– air conditioning and I remember many hot summer nights when t was impossible to sleep.
    Yes, you’re right. old people are not into that “green thing.”. A beautiful piece.

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