The “Green Thing”

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 day.”

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 just the blade in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull ’cause 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?

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.

Those are just a few of the thoughts we selfish old people have when a smart-ass young person tries to give us a lesson in conservation.


Apparently, the author of this piece is unknown. I’m told that it has been around for a while, but I’ve not seen it before, so when I saw it on a friend’s (vonMesser’s) FaceBook page, I thought that it was worth exposing to our PT readers as well. Thanks to VM for alerting me to this piece – it is chock full of pith and could be viewed as a brief history lesson for our young generation of smart-asses.




Categories: Humor & Satire

Tags: ,

14 replies

  1. I love this post, Garnet.

    I read a lot of decorating magazines and nowadays they are always full of articles in which people proudly talk about how “green” their newly remodeled vacation homes are. The very same people who think nothing of jetting around on multiple vacations every year and who can’t live with anything that’s a little old or worn will send you an email that scolds “please consider the environment before printing this email.” The arrogance of the so-called “green generation” is beyond annoying.


  2. Me too! A certified member of OFA (Old Farts Anonymous)!


    • Great post. Where do I go to join OFA curtmilr? I am extremely qualified based on my age (born the week the Korean War began) and long experience as a cranky curmudgeon. I remember all of these things from collecting bottles for a nickel each to covering school books with brown paper bags to riding my bike everywhere.

      My favorite example of the stupidity of today’s “green thing” is staying in a hotel suite with signs telling me to “go green” by hanging up my towel blah blah blah. Then they run the dishwasher with nothing but a coffee cup and a spoon.

      Hugh in Texas


  3. I remember all those things, too. We’re all old farts. Next thing you know, we’ll be standing on the front porch yelling at the kids to get off our lawns.


  4. If you didn’t do your Saturday morning chores, you didn’t get to go hang out with your friends and there was no negotiating. I grew up with all those things the lady listed, and although I appreciate the niceties we have today, we really were better for the environment then than we are now. Had to laugh at the Montana size TVs, ours is just the size of Nebraska.


    • One of my friend’s parents got the first TV in the neighborhood. It was a Zenith and had a round screen, but only displayed a small rectangular picture within the round tube – it was a miracle!


  5. Indeed, I remember collecting glass coke bottles to return to the store for money!


  6. I have seen this around for a few years
    BUT. I also practiced all most all of what was said
    We also had a milkman that delivered our milk in glass bottles and picked up the used one and took them back to be cleaned and reused


    • I remember all of the items mentioned, especially clotheslines and the tiny TV screens – and rasslin’ on TV and riding my bike all over creation. I remember squeezing a package of margarine to disperse the yellow color to make it look like butter, and I remember the old reel mowers that were hard to push and left some weeds standing, and trading comic books, and playing marbles, etc. etc.



  1. The “Green Thing” — Pesky Truth – Prepper 365

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