Think We’re Making Progress on Saving the Environment?

A kick-ass CANDoer of ours on Facebook posted this recently. It highlights so many “good” life skills that have been swept aside by “progress”, I felt compelled to post it on the site.

“While paying at the checkout, a young cashier suggested to an older woman, that she should bring her own shopping bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment. The woman apologised and explained, “We didn’t have this green thing back in my days.” The young cashier responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation didn’t care enough to save the environment for future generations.”

She was right — the older generation didn’t have the green thing in its day.

Back then, they returned milk, fizzy pop, wine and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilised and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were truly recycled. But then, they didn’t have the green thing back in their day.

Grocery stores packed their shopping in brown paper bags, that were reused for numerous things, most memorable besides household garbage bags, was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for their schoolbooks. This was to ensure that public property, (the books provided for their use by the school) was not defaced by their scribblings. Then they were able to personalise their books on the brown paper bags. But too bad they didn’t do the green thing back then.

They walked up stairs, because they didn’t have an escalator in every shop and office building. They walked to the shops and school and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time they had to walk a few hundred meters. But she was right, they didn’t have the green thing in their day.

Back then, they washed baby’s diapers because they didn’t have the throwaway kind. They dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts — wind and solar power really did dry clothes back in their days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that young lady is right; they didn’t have the green thing back in their day.

Back then, those that were lucky 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 the size of a small country. In the kitchen, they blended and stirred by hand because they didn’t have electric machines to do everything for them. When they packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, they used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

Back then, they didn’t fire up an engine and burn petrol 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 needed a drink of water. They refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and 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 bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. There was one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And they didn’t need a computerised gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest fast food joint.

But isn’t it sad the current generation laments how wasteful old people were just because they didn’t have the green thing back then?”

Reading this, I can’t help but wonder whether we’ve completely lost touch with our Inner Honesty Imps about what it means to “Be Green”.  Can we honestly say we’re “going green” these days or have we turned our backs on what “being green” truly is. Here’s some more food for thought: maybe this article also answers the question of why obesity and illness arising from sedentary lifestyles are so prolific now?

My only regret is that I haven’t been able to track down the article’s original source to provide credit. If it’s yours, or you know where it came from, let me know and I’ll post credit immediately.

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