My older generation didn't have that "green thing"

This is circulating on the Internet. Pretty much expresses my sentiments about the young folks who scold us old folks about not being environmentally conscious enough (“having that green thing”). I don’t know who wrote it or I would have credited it. If you do know who wrote it, please let me know at so I can give him or her proper credit. 

Being Green
Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the much 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 young 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” 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 schoolbooks. 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 throwaway 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 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 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 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 know it all who can’t make change without the cash register telling them how much.

Read more like this. 


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  • The whole piece is based on the phony premise that young people don't think older generations care about recycling or the environment. It's a diversion from the real conflict, which isn't between young and old but those who care about doing what it takes to protect the environment and those who couldn't care less and/or aren't willing to even acknowledge there's a problem.

  • In reply to hatch3:

    But what do you think about how we lived back then? Can you acknowledge at least that our consumer habits were far better for the environment than they are in today's culture?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Dennis Byrne:

    Our consumer habits today are a byproduct of the previous generation, just as your consumer habits from back then we're a byproduct of the generation that came before it coming out of the great depression and 2 world wars. Who benefits from this generations consumer habbits? I can tell you it is not lining the pockets of the young, and wasn't created by this generation. One last thing the whole green thing stuff is not some new term coined by young folks.Surprisingly, it dates back even further, to Henry David Thoreau’s writings in the 19th century.

  • In reply to Dennis Byrne:

    Sure, if I ignore all facts and put a revisionist spin on the "good old days". Or, maybe you could refute what Callum MacDonald post below, or what Stephen Hume wrote about this copypasta in the Vancouver Sun. Or maybe you can start small and begin by replying to what Aaron Rothman directly replied to you with.

    I'm sure you have a ton of facts to justify your belief that "our consumer habits were far better for the environment than they are in today's culture".

  • In reply to Dennis Byrne:

    No. We didn't invent plastic bottles that replaced recyclable glass. We didn't invent Styrofoam or plastic bubble. We didn't invent the plastic bags that replaced kraft paper. We didn't invent Bic pens, disposable razors, or all the things you complain about. Your generation did.
    I'm 51 years old. Do you know what my dad told me to do with the used oil when he was teaching me how to change the oil in my car?
    Dump it on the ground.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Dennis Byrne:

    Your generation CREATED today's consumer habits. The Millenials and Gen Z have had very little to do with it. They're victims of your change.

  • fb_avatar

    So, why would the lady behave as if the idea of bringing her own bag to the shop was a new concept?

    And what is with the idea of trying to shame shop assistants for using the cash registers which their workplace obliges them to use? That hardly demonstrates that they are innumerate.

  • fb_avatar

    The conversation continues:

    “Of course,” continued the older woman, “after we were done patting ourselves on the back for saving diapers and razors, we belched coal dust into the air from our homes and factories. We put phosphorus in our detergent and lead in our paint to make our things shinier, and sprayed DDT on our fields and orchards to rid us of bugs and birds. Our industrial and agricultural waste we dumped in the river to let nature wash it away.

    “We threw our garbage in dumps and landfills, and when those grew too big or too noxious, we loaded that garbage onto barges to be dumped in the ocean. Out of sight, out of mind, am I right?
    We invented celluloid, Bakelite and other synthetic materials because we were running out of animals whose horns and bones we could carve into billiard balls and hairbrushes. In fact, it was my generation who invented the whole artificial, disposable culture of convenience I was just crabbing about. From frozen foods to chemical preservatives to spray cans that put a continent-sized hole in the ozone layer, we cheerfully bought into anything “new and improved” that relieved us of the drudgery of cooking, cleaning, daily grocery shopping and having worn-out things repaired.

    “We turned our prairies into pavement, our rolling hills into strip mines and our green forests into factories and mills. Then we went abroad and razed the rainforests to make rubber tires and fan belts to keep our machines running.
    “When someone like Henry David Thoreau or John Muir or Theodore Roosevelt or Rachel Carson implored us to conserve our land and our water for future generations, many of us laughed and said, let those future generations fend for themselves, we’ve got railroads and highways to build, oil wells to drill and toxic waste to dump. To us, if you were overly concerned with how we were polluting the earth and sky and water, you were not ‘green’, you were a damn hippie.

    “I guess what I’m saying is that every generation could have done - and still can do - a better job in preserving and protecting our environment and that no generation has a monopoly on virtue.”

    To which the young cashier replied, “Now you're getting it, Grandma. Have a nice day!”

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Callum MacDonald:

    Absolute perfection. Thank you.

  • fb_avatar

    I believe it is credited to Debbie Donivan on Facebook. I know the end is a bit cutting, but let's not turn this into an accusation fest. We can profit from what was done out of necessity just a few decades ago. Let's keep our green mentality and enrich it with the common sense of 75 years ago, and then we can have the best of both worlds!

    Let's reject polarization and draw together to solve our problem!

  • This copypasta needs to die in a fire, just like the senile dotards who share it.

    This article has a point for point rebuttal, using FACTS.

  • fb_avatar

    Does the author realize that none of the things he's complaining about regarding were created or implemented by the generation fighting for a cleaner environment? It wasn't the Millennials who took consumerism to a the extreme - it was the Boomers. It wasn't Millenials who put a TV in every room, it was the Baby Boomers. It wasn't the Millenials who built and popularized giant SUVs, it was the Boomers. Literally everything the writer complains about was put into effect by the Boomer generation and then, sadly, continued by my generation, Gen X. Millenials were too young to make any of those changes or inventions or, really, anything. Now they, along with Gen Z, are fighting for a better world and the very ones who caused the problems are angry at them for trying to clean up their mess.

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