We didn’t have the green thing back then

This is being sharedon Facebook, a responses to “Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.”

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the much older lady that she should bring her own grocery bags, because plastic bags are not good for the environment.

The woman apologized to the young girl and explained, “We didn’t have this ‘green thing’ back in my earlier days.”

The young clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.”

The older lady said that she was right — our generation didn’t have the “green thing” in its day. The older lady went on to explain:

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” back in our day.

Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags that we reused for numerous things. Most memorable besides household garbage bags was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our school books. This was to ensure that public property (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. 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 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” 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 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 blade in a r azor 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 in the family’s $45,000 SUV or van, which cost what a whole house did before the”green thing.” 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 sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn’t have the “green thing” back then?

Please forward this on to another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conservation from a smart ass young person.

We don’t like being old in the first place, so it doesn’t take much to piss us off… Especially from a tattooed, multiple pierced smartass who can’t make change without the cash register telling them how much.

‘My generaton’ – or my parent’s generation, was certainly much different.

We didn’t have Farmers’ Markets, we grew out own fruit and vegetables and shared them around the neighbourhood.

We had a lot of hand-me down clothes.

My mother darned socks. She knitted jerseys – I often helped her recycle wool by unpicking old jerseys and knitting new ones.

We didn’t have bedroom heating. I used a hot water bottle, and then someone older would grab it when I had gone to sleep and use it.


My parents changed. I changed. The world changed. New Zealand changed. A lot.

Leave a comment


  1. I love this. I saw it on Facebook a while ago and thought it was great. How true and how sad that we are the cause of all the problems …. But there is hope…. we can also be the solution to all the problems. Thank you for this article. It’s awesome.

  2. traveller

     /  17th April 2015

    The recycling of soft drink and milk bottles were best thing we had going for us up until the late 80s. It’s a no-brainer to return to it along with home delivery of the latter.

    • Pierre

       /  17th April 2015

      The reusable glass milk bottles died because of the cost of collection and sterilisation. Not sure what demand would be like for home delivery though (esp as likely to cost more than supermarkets and summertime heat on the bottles sitting in the letterbox).

      I’m sure that we, as a nation, can do better than we are currently (actually in some ways it would be difficult to do worse). Making more packaging recyclable would be a start. Education would also help (as per the article).

  3. LOL.. reminds me of this ;

    ‘they should have waited for the old people to die, before they changed the money to decimal !’ (in UK early 1970s.. change from : pounds, shillings & pence) before I came down-under.

  4. kittycatkin

     /  17th April 2015

    Groan…this mouldy oldie is so contrived and predictable ! I wish that it would go away.

    These things are annoyingly judgemental & I can’t believe that this whiskery old specimen is still doing the rounds.Anyone old enough to have done or been around before those things would hardly be alive now.It’s arrant nonsense as anyone who knows anything about history will know. America had more cars per capita decades ago than just about anywhere else.Petrol was cheap and people did drive almost everywhere-had this woman never heard of drive-in films ? Plastic was certainly around in the lifetime of anyone alive now. The disposable thing was not invented by this generation-it was celebrated in the 60s ! 50s magazines are full of plastic items and such inventions as Formica.

    I can’t see how a paper cover would stop anyone scribbling in a book-what false logic.Why would these virtuous people do this, anyway ?

    Biros were invented during the war and fountain pens in the 19th century.

    People did have things like cake mixers-and what about the old egg beaters ?

    Motormowers were around in the 1940s-I have read about them and seen pictures. So were clothes dryers, which were invented early in the 20th century.

    There are razors with replaceable blades now. Why didn’t these goody-goods sharpen blades or grow beards ?

    The term ‘juvenile delinquent’ must be at least 60 years old, so they weren’t as good then as this old lady makes out.

    What shop assistant would speak to a customer like that and expect to keep their job ?

    The whole story totally overdoes it and destroys its credibility.

  5. kittycatkin

     /  18th April 2015

    Anyone who was an adult before the electric appliances mentioned would have to be about 120 now. I’m surprised that it didn’t have the people cooking over an open fire and driving in horse-drawn vehicles.

  6. Alan Wilkinson

     /  18th April 2015

    As a kid just after WW2 I had no motor-mower, fridge, phone, TV, tumble dryer or electric water heating except for a little Zip over the kitchen sink, and water was a roof tank fed by a little ram “pump” from an artesian well. But by the time we had kids all this had changed.


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