Friday, November 18, 2011

The Green Potholder

I got the story below in an email a few weeks ago. Now I'm not trying to beat up on any age group and don't agree that a "young cashier" would really say something like this - but there really was some truth in what I read.

The Green Thing

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 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 our 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 recycled. But we didn't have the green thing in our day.

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 throw-away  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 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 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

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?

And after reading this story, it made me think of how my grandma would save every little thing (hmmm....wonder if it's hereditary...because I think I have the same condition as her!). Every scrap of paper, every scrap of fabric, every beat up bread bad twist tie, every bread bag - nothing wasn't worth saving and reusing.

I have this little potholder that my grandma had in her things. It's the teeniest hot pad - but I suppose whoever made it used just what they had available. I happen to just adore it (and not just because it's purple!).  I don't know if grandma made it or if someone else did, but whoever did, I'm thankful for it.


  1. I agree with you! We have forgot so many good things to do..

  2. Yes - we really have forgotten. I know growing up that we would use every pencil until it was at the very end of it's lead - and never think about throwing it out just because we had made so many mistakes that the eraser was wore down and we would end up frustrated when the metal tip would rip our paper when trying to erase with it anyway. But then we would either use it without an eraser, or splurge and get the extra eraser tops to cover up the worn out end of the pencil. Funny things like that pop up in my mind every now and then. Interesting....