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“We didn’t have this green thing when I was your age.”

Posted: February 1, 2013 at 2:20 pm   /   by

For a variety of reasons, I don’t usually post email forwards; the one below, however, caught my eye. It’s witty and somewhat trenchant, but it also offers a bit of perspective. I think it’s worth a read.



At the store checkout line the young girl cashier suggested to the older woman customer that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags were bad for the environment.

The woman apologized and confessed, “We didn’t have this green thing when I was your age.”

The young clerk replied, “That’s what is causing our problems today. Your generation did not care enough to save the environment for future generations.”

She is 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, sterilized and refilled, so the same bottles could be used over and over. They really were “recycled”.

But we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

We took our groceries home in brown paper bags, that we reused for many purposes. 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) were not defaced by our scribbling’s. 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 most places and didn’t climb behind the wheel of a 300-horsepower vehicle whenever we had to go two blocks.

But she is 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 hundreds of watts — we used wind and solar power to dry our clothes back in those days. Kids wore hand-me-downs from their brothers or sisters instead of getting brand-new clothes all the time.

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 our food by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send by mail, we used wadded upold 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 muscle power. We exercised so much by working that we didn’t need to go to a health club and run on treadmills operated by 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 wanted a drink of water. We refilled fountain pens with ink instead of buying a new ones and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole thing just because the blade got dull.

But we didn’t have the green thing back then.

People took the streetcar or bus to go downtown and kids walked or rode their bikes to school 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.

But isn’t it nice of the current generation to point out how wasteful we old folks were because we didn’t have the green thing back then?

Please forward this on to another selfish old person who needs a lecture on conservation from a smart-Aleck young person…
We don’t like being old in the first place, so it doesn’t take much to tick us off.


(Original source unknown)

Christopher Cook

Christopher Cook

Managing Editor at Western Free Press
Christopher Cook is a writer, editor, and political commentator. He is the president of Castleraine, Inc., a consulting firm providing a diverse array of services to corporate, public policy, and not-for-profit clients.

Ardently devoted to the cause of human freedom, he has worked at the confluence of politics, activism, and public policy for more than a decade. He co-wrote a ten-part series of video shorts on economics, and has film credits as a researcher on 11 political documentaries, including Citizens United's notorious film on Hillary Clinton that became the subject of a landmark Supreme Court decision. He is the founder of several activist endeavors, including (now a part of Western Free Press) and He is currently the managing editor of and principal contributor to
Christopher Cook

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"We didn't have this green thing when I was your age."