In the line at the supermarket, the cashier told an older woman that she
should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the
The woman apologized to him and explained, “We didn’t have the green thing
back in my day.”
The cashier responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not
care enough to save our environment.”
He was right — our generation didn’t have the green thing in its day.
Back then, we returned milk bottles, soft drink bottles and beer bottles to
the shop. The store sent them back to the factory to be washed and
sterilised and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. 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 department
store and office building. We walked to the grocery shop 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 the
clothes. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not
always brand-new clothing. But that old 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 not a screen the size of Western Australia.
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 a wadded up old
newspaper 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 gym 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 or tap 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 rasor blades in a rasor instead of throwing away the whole
rasor just because the blade was blunt.
But we didn’t have the green thing back then.
Back then, people took the train, tram or a bus and kids rode their bikes to
school or walked instead of turning their Mums into a 24-hour taxi service.
We had one electric outlet 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 thousands of kilometers out in space in order
to find the nearest pizza place.
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?