Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Recycling and Being Green

This was sent to me and I think it is worth sharing.

At the checkout, the young cashier suggested to an elderly woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags are not good for the environment.

The woman apologized and explained, "We didn't have this green thing back in my young days."

The girl responded, "That's our problem today.  Your generation did not care enough to save the environment for future generations."

She was right -- our generation didn't have the green thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soft drink bottles and beer bottles to the shop. The shopkeeper sent them back to the factory to be washed, sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. Or the Boy Scouts collected the bottles and returned them for fundraising. 
The bottles really were recycled.  

But we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

Parcels were wrapped and sent in brown paper not plastic satchels. The brown paper was reused for numerous things, most memorable was as covers for our schoolbooks. This was to ensure that public property, (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by graffiti or accidental marks. Or the paper was used to cover exercise books which we used instead of computers and printers. These books were transportable, used no electricity, and were affordable.

But too bad we didn't do the green thing back then.

We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an elevator or escalator in every shop and office building. We walked to our friends' homes and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. We rarely travelled by plane and even then the aviation fuel did no damage to the ozone layer. We didn't even have a hole in the ozone layer. Cars and motor bikes did not roar through the quiet suburbs because their engines actually matched the needs of the drivers instead of the greed of the manufacturers. We talked to our neighbours and created a safe and friendly place to live. In the vegetable patch we did not use dangerous chemicals but grew things sustainably as our parents had taught us.

But she was right. We didn't have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby's nappies because we did not have the disposable kind. We reused these instead of throwing them on the ground to foul the environment. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up electricity -- wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our day  We made clothes for our family to show them our love. Children wore hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. We patched and mended clothes to make them last longer and no-one worried about teenage fashions.

But that young lady is right; we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

We managed to survive without hair dryers and hair straighteners. Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house -- not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen (remember them?), not a screen the size of Tasmania. We sang or whistled around the house as we worked. In the kitchen, we beat and stirred by hand because we did not have electric machines to do everything for us. 

But we didn't have the green thing back then. 

We didn't fire up an engine and burn fuel just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We used clippers, scythes, sickles and spades to trim edges and shrubs. We used brooms to clear leaves from paths. We exercised by working so we did not 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 reusable mug or glass when we were thirsty instead of using a disposable 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 blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.  We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. We did not use air conditioners because we opened the windows or went outside to a shady spot.

But we didn't have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their mothers into a 24-hour taxi service. We did not need to phone our friends to inform them of our every waking thought because we already valued our friends' time and privacy. And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 25 000 kilometres out in space in order to find the nearest cafe.

But we didn't have the green thing back then. 

It is tragic that the current generation laments how wasteful old folks were just because they didn't have the green thing back then. Is it ignorance or bad manners? Lack of respect or lack of responsibility?

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