Checking out at a supermarket, the young cashier suggested to the much older lady that she should bring her own bags, because plastic bags are not good for the environment. The woman apologised to the young girl and explained, “We didn’t have this ‘green thing’ in my day.”
The young clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.”
The older lady said that she was right and went on to explain:
Back then, we returned milk bottles to the milkman, fizzy drink and beer bottles to the shop we bought them from. They sent them back to the diary or factory to be washed, sterilised and refilled, so they could use the same bottles over and over again. So, come to think of it, they were recycled.
Grocers bagged our groceries in brown paper bags that we reused for numerous things. Most memorable, besides household rubbish bags, was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our school books. This was to ensure that public property (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribbling. Then we were able to personalise our books on the brown paper bags.
We walked up stairs because we didn’t have an escalator or lift in every store and office block. We walked to the shops and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go there.
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 those days. Children got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.
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 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 post, we used old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. We didn’t fire up an engine and burn fuel to mow the lawn. We used a manual lawn mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a gym to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.
We drank from a water fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we needed a drink of water. We refilled fountain pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blade in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got blunt.
Back then, people took the bus and children rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their mums into a 24-hour taxi service in the family’s £50,000 4×4 which costs more than a whole house did before the “green thing.” We had one electrical socket in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we 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 MacDonalds, Burger King or KFC.
But isn’t it sad that the current generation laments how wasteful we old gits were just because we didn’t have the “green thing” back then?
We don’t like being old in the first place, so it doesn’t take much to piss us off. Especially when a tattooed, multiple-pierced smartass can’t work out how much change to give us without the till telling them the amount.