This past week a facebook friend of mine posted a copy and share article that set me to thinking. With a bold title like "Green My Ass," I'm surprised I even bothered to read it, but I'm glad I did.
The unknown author wrote about an encounter between an older (I can call it that now since I'm edging on up there to that label) customer and the checkout clerk at the grocery store. "Paper or plastic?" got the rant started, especially when the clerk chided the customer about her generation not saving the environment.
And it wasn't even a contest. She (I'm assuming it was a she because she fumed about hanging diapers on the line on ice cold days instead of using disposable diapers to overflow the landfill) started with milk bottles as in "We returned milk bottles," and from there it went to a list of items that were no doubt on the counter as the clerk clicked up the price. Drinking from a water fountain instead of a plastic, often thrown away, bottle. Then it moved to walking instead of using (abusing) gasoline powered autos. And riding the school bus instead of clogging parent kiss and drop lines. On to television in every room wasting electricity.
I was raised by depression era parents. In the summer my father mowed the lawn with an engineless push mower. I tried to help several times, but the thing was way too heavy for me even on the flat stretches. In the winter he shoveled the snow with a garden shovel because with not all that much snow in the south, purchasing a rarely used snow shovel would be a waste of money.
My mother saved all kinds of electrical energy by hanging clothes on the line. That, I was old enough to help with, much to my dismay. The newest generation should at least once have the wonderful experience of cracking their air dried jeans back into human shape. The stretch metals that my mother inserted when they were wet didn't help all that much, either. Besides, inserting them into wet pants was my most dreaded chore.
She had few gadgets or specialized appliances in the kitchen. Her cooking was on the basic burners or oven. When we made cranberry relish at Thanksgiving, I helped her cut each berry in half, one by one, a good half hour's job if we anticipated a large crowd to prepare for.
Wait! What am I thinking?
I make that same relish each Thanksgiving using my food processor and finish the entire recipe including clean-up in a quarter hour, ten minutes if I'm rushing. My poor mom. I wish life was easier for her. Her hands might not have been so chapped if she could have used a dryer those cold days. And for my dad, he would have so enjoyed mowing on a riding mower and spending saved time fiddling in his garage.
So there's trade offs. Can we save the environment and still enjoy the amenities that modern life offers? That answer lies in awareness and effort and potential innovations that help preserve our resources so that in the future a clerk at the grocery store won't have to be lectured about saving the environment the old fashioned way.
Catch of the day,