Saturday, 27 June 2015

The past recycled...

I so wish I had written this. I was only discussing the other day with my neighbour Barry and on Facebook how we now have four huge plastic recycling bins instead of the small galvanised bin I remember as a boy. Those bins, whilst necessary today block up my urban lane, but Hey ho.

Of course the world has grown since I was a boy, billions more people with a lot more wealth to create their own waste. Some of them can even afford meat now with all the greenhouse gases that brings with it – but that is another rather smelly story.

Anyway, what changed? Read on...

John Wiley wrote this:

Anyone over the age of 32 should read this, as I copied this from a friend... Checking out at the supermarket recently, the young cashier suggested I should bring my own carrier bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment. I apologised 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 about one thing -- our generation didn't have the green thing in “Our” day. So what did we have back then…? After some reflection and soul-searching on "Our" day here's what I remembered we did have.... Back then, we returned milk bottles, fizzy pop bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilised and refilled, so it could use the same bottles repeatedly. 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 or lift in every store and office building. We walked to the supermarket and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two minutes up the road. 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 England. 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 screwed 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 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 bus, and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their mums 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 computerised gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000miles 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 post this on your Facebook profile so another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conservation from a smarty-pants young person can add this to their CV.


  1. Lorna Gleadell on FB
    Perfectly explained

  2. Lindsey Messenger
    Great.... Need to share

  3. Nick Jones on FB
    Yeah great, let's all share... But wait, we all have big tellies, mobile phones, cars, etc, don't we? So by sharing it we're all hylocrites, aren't we?

    While I agree with the general thrust of it - yes, there were fewer gadgets back then and no bottled water - the original post isn't really helping anyone, it's just trying to cause a rift between young and old people - plus it's probably based on a fictional event (I've never been spoken to rudely by a checkout assistant in my life). Any post that ends with a 'share this now if you agree' type comment is made up, if you ask me.

    And Andy, surely you're not saying that having one bin that goes to the rubbish dump is better than having lots of bins that get recycled?

    1. Andrew Height
      Actually Nick I am. I think the recycling thing is a huge con when in reality we just need to live more simply. It is very hard not to get sucked into consumerism, but we have a throw away society and we are all guilty - but that does make it sensible or right. The past IS the past, but generally it was far less wasteful. Let's not forget that i personally own 1,000 acres of rain forest and have awards for being green - whatever that means (it means nothing). Of course this post made up, but it makes you think just a little. Basically the world is going under and whether we have four or forty bins ain't going to change that, nothing is. Fortunately I have my own chickens and I garden - so I am okay.

    2. Nick Jones
      I agree that the world is going under. Hopefully science and technology will save us somehow. We're all as bad as each other and I can't see us all reverting back to a simpler way of life. Though I would love some chickens.

    3. Of course everyone is in on the act now. The simple life is fast disappearing all over the planet. The Chinese used to ride bicycles (There used to be nine million bicycles in Beijing. That's a fact.), now they've all been traded in for cars. The Japanese used to eat fish and whales, now they can't get enough Big Macs and KFC Christmas dinners. Natives all over Africa used to communicate through jungle drums, these days they carry mobile phones along with their assegais. We all need to buy chickens Nick. Chickens are the answer.

  4. Fraser Stewart shared on FB.

  5. Neil Barrett on FB
    I think the main lesson to be learned is reuse rather than recycle, that would save a lot of energy. Also Supermarkets don't seem to be responsible for the wast food and packaging they create.

  6. Supermarkets were a rarity when I was a boy. You'd go to the shops and loose things were put into brown paper bags. You'd take along an egg box for your eggs, raw and cooked meats got wrapped in white paper, and then you'd carry it home in your wicker shopping basket. The only ready meals came in tin cans and were made by Heinz. I agree Neil the amount of wrappering and packaging supermarkets use these days is just mind-blowing.