In the line at the supermarket, the cashier told the older woman that she should bring her own grocery bag 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.”

 “That’s our problem today. The former generation did not care enough to save our environment.” The cashier responded.

He was right of course. That generation didn’t have the ‘green thing’ in its day. Back then, they returned their milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store.  The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilised and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.

But they didn’t have the green thing back in that customer’s day.

In her day, they walked up stairs, because they didn’t have a lift in every store and office building. They walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time they had to go two blocks.

But she was right. They didn’t have the green thing in her day.

Back then, they washed the baby’s nappies because they didn’t have the throw-away kind. They dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 240 volts – wind and solar power really did dry the clothes. children got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But that old lady is right; they didn’t have the green thing back in her day.

Back then, they 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, not a screen the size of the Scotland. In the kitchen, they blended and stirred by hand because they didn’t have electric machines to do everything. When they packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, they used a wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, they didn’t fire up an engine and burn petrol just to cut the lawn. They used a push lawn mower that ran on human power. They exercised by working so they didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she’s right; they didn’t have the green thing back then.

They drank from a glass tumbler when they were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time they had a drink of water. They refilled their writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and they replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

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

Back then, people took the tram or a bus and children rode their bikes to school or took the school bus instead of turning their mothers and fathers into a 24-hour taxi service. They had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And they didn’t need a computerised gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites thousands of miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

But isn’t it sad that the current generation laments how wasteful the old folks were just because they didn’t have the green thing back then?



  1. I love this post!

    Isn’t there a biblical exhortation about motes and beams in the eye suggesting that it’s a good idea to look in ones own backyard first before casting sanctimonious aspersions on others?

  2. Hi Laird,

    At that Time no Green Thing was required because the World’s Population did not require it.

    Today, the exponential increase of the World’s Population make it a necessity to find the easiest way to do things. Bottles, glasses are made from certain materials (silica etc), and we would have required a lot of these for our present World, too many indeed !

    Humans are tampering with Mother Nature’s Debit Credit System. Why Medical Science offers 15 to 25 years life Bonus to those who should have gone long ago ? There is an almost endless list of examples. In a Calamity, those who got trapped must be left there, let them go. HIV ? Let them go. Why trying to save them ? Then the Earth would be relieved of that heavy weight of too many People, too much needs for shelter, foods, cars, luxuries etc. without forgetting those infamous Plastic Bags, Plastic Bottles !

    Since Mother Nature works that way, always tries to balance the equation, why Humans tamper with Her System ?

    Cheers from Mauritius.

  3. Interestingly, research suggests that the most effective way of reducing human population is not to let people die wholesale but just the opposite. Specifically, in countries which have reduced infant mortality, increased access to work and education for females, raised living standards, increased life expectancy and provided effective legislation for women’s rights of equality, population growth has been greatly reduced. This probably sounds counter-intuitive but look at the research. It’s quite surprising.

    I don’t want to make it sound simple. It isn’t. And as the increasing disproportion of males to females in some societies (in some areas in China it’s as high as 200/100) illustrates, cutting population growth in the wrong way can have frightening consequences. Can you imagine what it’s going to be like in 20 years time when there are two males looking for wives for every prospective bride? Again, history does not suggest the results will be peaceful.

    • Hi theotheri,

      Research in this field is very limited.

      That good situation can be achieved in certain places where education is possible. Where education is possible there must be facilities for almost everything. Alternatively in the poorer countries and in unhospitable regions of the world, there will be no or extremely little and slow progress. All these will take too long to make good or could not be achieve at all.

      I think that Man should stop tampering with Mother Natiure, and She will decide about her own Debit Credit System.

      China has tampered with Mother Nature. 200/100 is no accident.

      Now tampering with food genes. What the future holds ?

      It appears there is an increase of sore throat at the right side of the throat. This is no accident !

      Mother Nature is a female “She”. Do not mess with Women ! You heard that ?

      • In poorer countries there is slow or no progress. If the vatican allowed its poor and uneducated flocks to use contraception population growth would slow down AND the spread of hiv would be reduced. As for China’s inbalance well I suggest that is more to do with with certain ethnic cultures there who value male children more than females.

  4. Hi there – seeing your comment over on my blog reminded me that I hadn´t been over here to visit for a while. Very intersting and pertinent post. My grandmother used to say she didn´t really understand recyclying while all the time actually doing it – drawers full of bits of string, papers, things that could be used over and over. Water always out of the tap (why pay for a bottle?!) and lots of “make do and mend”. Fortunately she was a good teacher, sadly many people don´t have that taught to them from an ealry age. Spain is finally coming to grips with recycling – what a relief!

    • Thanks for your visit. We always drank “Adams ale” from the kitchen tap when children! I find it totally unbelieveable how many plastic bottles of water and icecubes are sold in local supermarkets. How much electricity is wasted for the idle?

  5. I agree that Mother Nature is not a passive entity to be played with like a plastic toy. Her rage can be total and devastating, and can kill us if we don’t take her very very seriously.

    The problem I have with your blanket “don’t tamper with Mother Nature” proscription is that it is too vague. What, exactly, consists of “tampering?” Where would you stop? You would stop with the genetic engineering of food; why not stop with fertilizing the earth? what about irrigation systems? or grain storage silos? how about farming at all? and the domestication of animals? should we return our dogs and horses and cats to fend for themselves in the wild? Should be stop trade so that we no longer risk transporting dangerous parasites to new environments? In the medical field, what about vaccinations against small pox? or polio? or the flu? cancer treatment? Would you give up the car? or other forms of mass transportation? should we get every where on foot or not go there at all? What about using the wheel at all? or electricity?

    As I see it, the problem is that every living thing contributes to the modification of the environment by the very act of living. The history of our planet suggests that again and again, species evolve, live, modify and pollute the environment which eventually kills them. The vast supply of oxygen that made it possible for life to move onto land and which today we breathe was sent into the atmosphere molecule by molecule by anarobes whose waste product is oxygen. For several billion years they thrived. Today they survive only in oxygen-deprived environments while most other living things breathe the air they first threw away.

    We humans, though, are the first species who can reflect on what we are doing. We can chose to change our behavior, we can chose to use or forbid the use of everything from condoms to artificial fertilizers to cars. We can’t just say to Mother Nature “get on with it.” We are part of Nature. And so we are both part of the problem. And part of the solution.

  6. I love your post, something that I talk about a great deal. Hope lots of folks drop by and read it, maybe they could learn a thing or two! ….RaeDi

  7. You are right, Laird. It is well known that Poliics, Religions, Cultures and the business from Medical Science are always having a hand in most events. So, the best solution would still be a drastic reduction in the number of people on earth. I really think it fits the equation to re-balance many things on earth.

  8. I am glad that Laird has edited quite a Good Post that keeps his Readers literally “rolling”. Thank you Laird.

    theotheri, yes, it might be vague to say “Don’t tamper with Mother nature !” The Businesses, those Money Machines, tamper a lot with Mother nature. Examples are a lot. For example, putting water in bottles, and why almost everything is packed ? I bring a large bag and I do not need multiple small packing materials that will be thrown away into the bins.

    Medical Science and the Businesses born from, give a life bonus of 15 to 25 years.

    Taking a lot of stuff from under ground and polluting the fresh air and the atmosphere. All this is necessary because of an over crowded world and an evolution that we call Modern. Our Grand Parents lived quite well without those modern stuff.

    The Equation is :

    More People = More Production Needs = More Pollutions. It is a vicious Circle that always loop to the Question of too many People ! Well, this is a personal opinion. Let us see what other Readers have to say.

    Cheers from mauritius.

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