Even a Broken Clock is Right Twice A Day: A Smart FWD

Paige Wolf

I still haven’t figured out how the Woodstock generation became the generation that forwards e-mails to inform us that chopping onions will give us food poisoning, the U.S. will grant seven-year tax holidays to immigrants, and, of course, Obama is a Muslim extremist — and they have proof.

My mother recently sent me a forward with great hesitation, knowing that most forwards are responded to with me calling up to scream at them to stop sending me nonsense. Of all things, she was afraid that this would offend me.

But this doesn’t offend me at all. It’s actually quite true and something I’ve been saying for a while. Prior generations were far greener than modern parents, and it wasn’t out of some altruistic mission. It’s just the way things were 50 years ago.

I only wish the older generation would help the younger to embrace these values more, rather than giving in to consumerism by buying the grandkids every new gadget on the market. But, alas, I am a hypocrite, having read the forward on my iPhone and responded to it on my Mac. But on the plus side, I am proud to be embracing many of the “olden ways” on this list. Here's what my mother sent:

Subject: 'The Green Thing'

For All Us Old Geezers, the facts are now in. Amazing how fast this made the rounds with us old geezers! 

‘The Green Thing’!

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the 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 clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. The old geezer generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.”

She was right — our generation didn’t have 'The Green Thing’ in its day.

The facts are: 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, 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.

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 black and white 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 2-hour taxi service. 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 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza 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 young person. Remember: Don’t make old people mad!! We don’t like being old in the first place, so it doesn’t take much to tick us off.

Paige Wolf is a Philadelphia mom and author of Spit That Out! The Overly Informed Parent’s Guide to Raising Children in the Age of Environmental Guilt. This post is adapted from her blog, Spit That Out!

Categories: MomSpeak