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Playing the Blame Game?


This bit of commentary dropped into my in-box this morning.

I read it - and then I read it again - then I sat and stared at it, trying to work out why it pissed me off so much.

Have a read and see what you think � then I�ll come back to you at the end.:


Checking out at the supermarket, the young cashier suggested to the older woman

that she should bring her own shopping 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 cashier 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 its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, cool drink 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. 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 in our day.

We walked up stairs, because we didn�t have an escalator in every shop 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 nappies 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 county of Yorkshire . 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 post,

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 petrol 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 water from a fountain or a tap when we were thirsty instead of

demanding a plastic bottle flown in from another country. We accepted that

a lot of food was seasonal and didnt expect that to be bucked by flying

it thousands of air miles around the world. We actually cooked food that

didnt come out of a packet, tin or plastic wrap and we could even wash

our own vegetables and chop our own salad.

But we didn�t have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the tram or a bus, and kids rode their bikes to

school or walked instead of turning their mothers into a 24-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 smart-ass young person.


Perhaps its the sancimonious tone of the piece - after all, it does come over as some holier-than-thou grey-panther propaganda. And re-reading it, I did recognise that lost world; yes, in my family we washed and returned pop and milk bottles, only had one TV, drank from water fountains in the park and did real cooking, etc. 
But the penny eventually dropped; the person I was really pissed off with was the person who'd had the imagination to help to create this wasteful, careless world of ours; with our TVs and stand-by buttons and e-gadgets and throw-away culture ... because that person is me - the old geezer in the supermarket queue.

RIBA CPD in 2015

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