Inspired by a post on the dreaded Facebook, I’m prompted to educate the 20 to 40 - somethings about how the older, much-vilified generation did their bit to save the planet before the word ”ecology” became widely used.
In case we lose sight of how we used to live, and youngsters think we didn't do enough to save our environment for future generations, please bear this in mind:
We returned milk bottles, lemonade and beer bottles and even jam jars to the shops. The shops then sent them back to the plant to be washed, sterilized & refilled, so those same bottles were used again and again.
We shopped with our reusable shopping bags - no carrier bags then.
Groceries put our purchases into brown paper bags that we reused for numerous things. One use of brown paper bags was as book covers for our school books. This was to ensure that public property (the books provided for our use by the school) were not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalise our books on their brown paper bag/covers.
We used up leftover food in cottage pies, bubble and squeak, home made soups, bread and butter pudding, etc. Instead of throwing it away wastefully. “Waste not, want not” was a phrase often heard at the dinner table.
We walked up stairs because we didn't have an escalator in every store or office building; walked to the shops & didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go 200 yards.
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 & solar power really did dry our clothes back in those days.
Children got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers, sisters and cousins, not always brand-new clothing.
We had one radio in the house - not a TV in every room. If anyone did own a TV, it had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of a football pitch.
When cooking we blended & stirred by hand - we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us.
When we packaged a fragile item to send by post, we used layers of old newspapers to cushion it, not specially made Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.
We didn't fire up an engine and burn fuel just to cut the lawn. We used a 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.
We drank from a tap or fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. Coffee and tea came in china cups.
We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying new pens, replaced the razor blade in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.
People took the bus & kids rode bikes to school or walked instead of turning their mothers into a 24-hour taxi service in the family's expensive car or van, which cost what a whole house did before we got “green”.
We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. (I remember my mum plugging the iron into a light socket). We didn’t have central heating. In winter, we heated one room in the house with a coal fire and went to bed in freezing cold bedrooms clutching our hot water bottles.
We didn't need a computerised gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest park.
Oh, and the checkout person in the grocery could work out what change to give without the use of a calculator!
I feel sad that the current generation laments how wasteful my generation were, when they’re speaking from a position of ignorance of how life was then.