"The Green Thing"

I am posting this for Earth Day. This arrived in my inbox this morning. Author unknown, it's scattered on the Internet the past month in a couple versions. In one, the cashier is harsher, makng the post more of a rebuke to the PC. Humorous but also something to think about.  -- Jeff

The Green Thing

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

That’s right, they didn’t have the green thing in her day. Back then, they returned their milk bottles, Coke bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, using the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.

But they didn’t have the green thing back her 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.

But she’s 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. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

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 pizza dish, not a screen the size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen, they blended and stirred by hand because they didn’t have electric machines to do everything for you. When they packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, they used wadded up 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 plastic bottle every time they had a drink of water. They refilled 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 and kids rode their bikes to school or rode the school bus, instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. 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 they didn't have the green thing back then!



The people that didn't have the "Green Thing back then" are also the ones that have left us a legacy of industrial pollution in our lakes, rivers, and streams.  They decimated natural areas in the name of progress under the guise of development or extracting natural resources in the most unsustainable ways imaginable.
These people also propogated segregation and sexism.  Sure they used drinking fountains, they just had better make sure they used the one that was specific to their skin color.

...was not the one making the unsustainable policy decisions or reaping (most) of the profits from unsustainable acts. No environmentalist denies that many past societal practices had to change. US energy and fuel consumption increased until about the year I graduated from high school; it was Baby Boomers that changed those habits. Yet food, soda pop, bottled water, and housing materials use has only climbed, as has electricity consumption.
By any measure those alive on the earth right now consume more resources than previous generations, both in the USA and outside it, so it's really wrong to make a sweeping generational argument. Even within generations there are stark differences, and contradictions; "back then" many fought injustice as well. The point of the article was that there were practices and ideas in the past, too, that in fact were more sustainable, and did represent a simpler way of life. The wise thing is to find the best practices from every era.