‘Go Green’ born from necessity

Published 11:13 am Tuesday, February 13, 2018

While checking out her grocery items, an elderly female customer asked for plastic bags. The cashier, a younger woman, bristled her eyebrows and said that plastic wasn’t good for the environment and perhaps the customer might want to consider switching over to the “go green” movement.

The elderly customer offered an apology, saying, “We didn’t have the green thing back in my day.”

She was right…there was no environmental craze back when she was the same age as the young clerk, but yet if you stop and think about it, that era was synonymous with being kind to Mother Earth.

Heck, even I’m old enough to remember turning in our used milk bottles and soft drink bottles. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, using the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled, but they didn’t have the green thing back in the elderly customer’s day.

In her day they walked up stairs because they didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. They walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a gas-guzzling, 300-horsepower machine every time they had to go two blocks. But she’s right, they didn’t have the green thing in her day.

Back then, they washed the baby’s cloth diapers because they didn’t have the disposable kind. They dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts. Wind and solar power really did dry the clothes back then, but the old lady was right – there was no green movement back in the day.

At the same time there was only one TV in the house, not one in every room. The screen was the size of a pizza pan, not the size of the state of Montana.

In the kitchen, food items were stirred or whipped by hand…there were no electric blenders to do all the work (and burn electricity).

When they packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, it was cushioned by an old newspaper, not by Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

Back then they didn’t fire up an engine on pricy zero-turn mower and burn gasoline just to trim lawn; they used a push type that ran on human power. They exercised by working so they didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she’s right, they didn’t have the green thing back then.

If they were thirsty, water was consumed from the kitchen faucet or from a fountain. Water was free, not the bottled variety of today that people lug by the case out of the grocery store….in those plastic bottles that will never deteriorate in the landfill.

They refilled pens with ink instead of buying a new one and replaced the blades in a razor instead of throwing it away because it got dull. But they didn’t have the green thing back then.

Kids rode their bikes to school back then instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service.

There was only one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of them to power a dozen appliances. And they didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from a satellite 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

But that old lady is right…they didn’t have the green thing back in her day.


Cal Bryant is Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be reached at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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