That ‘Green’ Thing

Doing the rounds of the internet – it’s so very true and reminded me of another blogger, who was tidying up his life to make it cleaner, greener and neater and taking back time from the modern day gadgets and media. We  should all take note. I’m already looking at the plug sockets and thinking which ones I could lose. And seeing how long it takes the kids to notice …

At a supermarket, the cashier advises an elderly woman that she should bring her own bags because plastic bags aren’t good for the environment. She apologises and explains “We didn’t have the green thing back in my day” to which he responds: “That’s our problem today – your generation didn’t care enough to save the environment!”

He was right – there was no ‘green thing’ back then – instead, glass bottles were turned to the shop or off licence to be re-used; there were no lifts or escalators using energy in every office or shop; most people walked to the shops instead of climbing into a 300-horsepower machine to go shopping; fruit and veg was bought loose and washed at home – there weren’t bins full of plastic, foam and paper packaging that needed huge recycling plants fed by monster trucks all day; babies nappies were washed because disposable hadn’t been invented – and dried on a washing line instead of in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts – wind and solar power was harnessed; kids got hand-me-downs (hand-made or hand knitted) clothes from their siblings, not brand new clothing shipped from the other side of the planet; shops repaired things with ‘spare parts’ – whole items weren’t thrown away because one small part failed; we only had one TV or radio in the house, with a screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?) not a screen the size of Wales. In the kitchen, blending and stirring was done by hand instead of by electric machine; fragile items sent by post were wrapped in wadded newspaper to cushion, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap; a petrol burning or electric machine wasn’t used to mow the lawn, but human power. Doing all these things manually kept people fit – there was no need for a brightly lit, air conditioned health clubs with electronic machinery and millions of plastic bottles full of ‘special’ water. There were water fountains in schools and offices instead of using disposable plastic cups; pens were refilled with ink instead of being thrown away and a new one bought; razor blades were replaced, not the whole razor; people used the bus, or rode their bikes, or walked to school instead of mum being a 24 hour taxi service; there was one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances; a gadget to receive a signal beamed from a satellite 2000 miles away wasn’t needed to find the nearest fish’n’chip shop.

It wasn’t called the ‘green’ thing – it was what you did and it saved money and energy. Granted, it didn’t save time – but doesn’t the harking back to those vintage years reflect that people seemed so much more content with their lot? A damaged environment, regrettably, is the price we’re paying for progress, convenience and leisure time.

It seemed all the more pertinent when I read today that kids think they’re deprived if they don’t have an i-pod or the latest trainers or satellite tv – and in terms of how they feel, I get that – they compare themselves to their peers and if their peers’ parents are daft enough to indulge them, then feelings of envy will surface. So it’s up to parents to point out to their little darlings how well off they actually are – make them sit and watch Children in Need and Comic Relief all the way through, not just the fun bits, to realise just how much they take for granted.

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