Google+ Organic Gardens Network™: Were We Greener Back Then?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Were We Greener Back Then?

Green, before Green was Cool; Humorous but pointed highlights on the remarkably green lifestyle of the “greatest generation” by Craig Weatherby.

We Didn’t Have the Green Thing Back Then
Checking out at the supermarket recently, the young cashier suggested I should bring my own bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment. I apologized and explained, “We didn’t have this green thing back in my earlier days“.

The clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations“.

She was right about one thing–our generation didn’t have the green thing in “our” day. So what did we have back then? After some reflection and soul-searching on “our” day, here’s what I remembered we did have….

Back then, we returned milk bottles, pop 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 repeatedly. 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 nappies because we didn’t have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 240 volts — wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that young 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 Wales. In the kitchen, we blended & 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 wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn petrol 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 water 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 bus, and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their mums 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?

Brought to you by Vital Choice


  1. Interestingly enough, the girl at the checkout was not wrong. I find it curious that the author has not approached the girl's statement that "Your generation did not care enough to save the environment for our children." He dismisses it, whereas she had a poingnant albeit crude remark. As they say,"The sins of the father are visited upon his children."

    While the greatest generation may have been raised "green", where did the principles that they were supposedly raised with go. Was it not your generation as a whole and the one before, that forfeited resourcefulness, thrift, and common sense for the sake of production and technology? My generation was raised in a wasteful world with deranged food, consumer values, and a throwaway culture. Our journey back to sanity is a long and arduous one. Where did you depart from yours? Who made the decisions then that has led to our current dilemma of not enough clean air, clean water, and clean food for the people, the living creatures, and the planet?

    I am not saying it is the fault of the baby boomers, as one mistake leads to the next. Hindsight is 20/20 and perhaps the decisions leading toward such a wasteful culture were made mostly unconsciously and over a longer period of time obviously. Now, it is up to all of us to become conscious and make the descisions that will repair and create a healthier happier world or our children will continue to be the ones paying the heavy tax, on to the next generation, and so on.

    I ask the author, if you were raised "greener", why the plastic bags? Where did your instilled common sense go? And yes, while greener at times may be harder in one sense, the only benefit of the easy path is that it is easy. The deleterious effects of the "easy" road that was collectively chosen by previous generations to travel upon is now our misfortune. Here we are let us leave our ego by the wayside and start collectively and conciously choosing the world we want for our children and grandchildren through the hundreds of decisions we make everyday, and yes it will take work...but that is the joy in the process. When did it all become about a destination of empty wealth and meaningless ease anyway?

  2. Joanna - I appreciate your view point. Well said!

  3. I enjoyed reading this,
    I'm 24 and pretty "green" minded.

    I don't know what era you are talking about though.
    My Great Grand Father and Mother (born in the 1920's) passed away 4 years ago and would tell me of there time. Of both "the green and the "mean".

    He would say how they would give back the glass bottle but when they didn't they would use wire and a fire place to cut the top off and make drinking glasses. She would say how when the horse and cart went pass the house wives would come out and pick up the horse manure for there veggie gardens.

    I was also told how if you mowed a lawn you would dump the clippings anywhere, if you changed the oil in your car you'd throw it in the yard to seep into the soil.

    So from what I was told there was the good and the bad (more good) for when they grow up but I think the throw away culture started to grow in the 50's when plastic started to come into use.


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