Was Grandma ahead of her time ‘Greenwise’?

Grandma recycling her babies diapers

Wasteful old person  shown recycling her babies diapers

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment.

The woman apologized and explained.

“We didn’t have this green thing back in my earlier days.” The young clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.”

She 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 truly recycled. But we didn’t have the green thing back in our day. Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags, that we reused for numerous things, most memorable besides household garbage bags, was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our schoolbooks. This was to ensure that public property, (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags. But too bad we didn’t do the green thing back then. 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 throwaway kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 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 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 wadded up old newspapers 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 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint. So… don’t tell anyone of our generation just how “green” you are because we beat you hands down when it came to being ‘green’!

11 comments on “Was Grandma ahead of her time ‘Greenwise’?

  1. LadyBlueRose's Thoughts Into Words says:

    this is one my all time favorites…
    Great post …one to be shared….again and again….
    maybe someone will listen that the “older generation” was “Green” before being green was cool…
    Take Care…

  2. rumpydog says:

    Jen says that reminds her of her grandfather. He talked about envying the kids with nicer things, only to realize later in life he DID have the nicer things!

  3. Ingrid says:

    Well said. I remember wrapping the school books in a brown paper bag and personalizing. Great post!

  4. This is just wonderful! If we could only remember to roll back the calendar a bit and remember what our grandparents and parents did to conserve, we’d be miles ahead of where we are now. It’s a good reminder not to be so prideful about the few changes we make now, and think we’re so progressive. LOL!

    • I’ve been actively trying to reclaim some of these things. Brooming instead of a vacuum each time, riding my bike to the store (bike now has a front basket), drying many of my clothes in the air in our attached garage (no clotheslines permitted anymore), put in a well to get fresh non-chemicaled water for the garden/lawn water and best of all, eating at the dinner table again!

  5. tbnranch says:

    Well said! You have certainly put things in perspective!

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