“The Green Thing” and the older generation

Miss Thrifty9 October 25, 2011

the green thing

One of the consequences of having a octogenarian grandmother who is all fancypants and computer-literate, is that you end up getting a lot of email forwards. Yes, Frugal Grandma: I’m looking at you! The jokes, the funny pictures, the PowerPoint slideshows and other dodgy attachments – the lot.

Anyway, this one landed in my inbox the other day, and I thought it was worth copying here:


In the line at the store, the cashier told an older woman that she should bring her own grocery bags 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. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment.”

He was right — our generation didn’t have the green thing in its day.

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.

We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have an escalator in every 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 the clothes. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that old 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 a wadded up old newspaper 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’s 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 blades 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.

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 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza 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?

I read Frugal Grandma’s email and nodded sagely. “Hmmm”, I thought, “maybe there are some good points here”.

And then I remembered…

…Popping round another relative’s house…

…And spotting this lovely “shoe crate” in a spare bedroom:

shoe box

It amused me some: in that house, everything goes in the bin as apparently the council in that area “doesn’t do recycling”. Looks like the young’uns shouldn’t be copping all the blame…

Top image credit: epSos.de.

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9 Responses to ““The Green Thing” and the older generation

lovelygrey says:

Am I the only person other than a grandma who uses a fountain pen these days?

October 25, 2011 at 11:48 am

Miss Thrifty says:

I must be honest, lovelygrey – I haven’t used a fountain pen in years! Mind you, I’m pretty much glued to the computer keyboard these days, so any sort of handwriting is a rarity.

October 25, 2011 at 4:56 pm

Dee.D. Clark says:

One of the GREAT things about the older generation in terms of recycling is that they have been there and done that,lived through wars and deprivation and came out the other end knowing what to do to survive, and they can pass all this on to us which is just fantastic. ‘Maybe there are some good points here’? Yea, I agree.

October 25, 2011 at 10:48 pm

krantcents says:

Many things changed from Grandma’s day, we have become a throw away society. We now have switched to cans, plastic bottles and devices that cannot be fixed. We throw away much more!

October 26, 2011 at 12:15 am

Niftynorah says:

Can’t remember when I last had a pair of pants that could be called ‘fancy’ lol

October 26, 2011 at 4:20 pm

Wexdon says:

“That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment.”

This comes across as pretty uncalled-for. I would have told that cashier to mind his business

November 2, 2011 at 7:05 pm

Amanda Goodden says:

My partner’s first gift to me was a fountain pen. He spends a lot of time abroad, so as well as emails and skype, we write all the time – nothing beats a letter landing on the doormat: the sense of anticipation is wonderful. 10 years on it is still our favourite form of communication.

November 3, 2011 at 6:32 pm

Carla says:

I have to agree with the not being green grandma email to be honest I am only 30 and I remeber all the things my grandparents and even parents did that was in a form of recycling/reusing and it saves you money over the years, I too still do some of the things they do on a reuse basis but I also recycle. A point also is that the population has increased so much over the past 50 years that there is so much much waste. I wish i could do thngs more like my grandparents at times but the modern day working world makes this much more difficult to do with the fact that you spent on average 13-14 hours a day dedicated to getting to work and working to earn the money to keep a roof over your head so convienence shopping and speed shopping and easy modern cleaning chemical products rather than elbow grease has become the norm, Its a shame, I am proud of the some of the older ways of doing things I use gives me more satisfaction, saves me money and is actually healthier for me (and saves a fortune on not having to go to the gym 🙂 )

November 7, 2011 at 8:46 am

Yusuf Chy says:

Fountain Pen, omg I have not been using for long time but I feel this pen and like to use it again. Thanks

February 5, 2012 at 1:29 am

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