"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Monday, 9 May 2011

Back in my day...

In the line at the store, the cashier told the lady that she should bring her own grocery bag because plastic bags weren't good for the environment.

The lady with a bit of grey hair apologized to the cashier and explained, "We didn't have the green thing back in my day..."

The cashier responded, "That's our problem today. The former generation did not care enough to save our environment."

She was right, that generation didn't have the green thing in its day...

Back then, they returned their milk bottles, pop bottles and beer bottles to the shop. The shop 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.

But they didn't have the green thing back in that customer's day...

In her day, they walked up stairs, because they didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. They walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time they had to go a few hundred yards.

But she was right. They didn't have the green thing in her day...

Back then, they washed the baby's nappies because they didn't have the throw-away kind.

They dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts - wind and solar power really did dry the clothes.  And if the weather was inclement, they hung the washing up elsewhere in the house, until it was dry.

Use any available space to dry or air clothing,
instead of immediately using electricity to
dry your clothes.

Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new and "I gotta have (designer labels)" clothing.

But that lady with a bit of grey hair is right, they didn't have the green thing back in her day...

Back then, they 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, not a screen the size of Wales.

In the kitchen, they blended and stirred by hand because they didn't have electric machines to do everything for you.

It may take that little bit longer, but the satisfaction
of doing it by hand is immense.

When they packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, they used a wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

Back then, they didn't fire up an engine and burn petrol just to cut the lawn. They used a push mower that ran on human power.

They exercised by working in their homes and gardens themselves, in place of employing servants to do those chores for them, so they didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. 

But she's right, they didn't have the green thing back then...

They drank from a fountain when they were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time they had a drink of water.

They refilled their writing pens with ink instead of buying a new plastic pen, and they replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got blunt.

But they didn't have the green thing back then...

And they grew their own vegetables and ate only what was in season, instead of eating the latest imported goods available from the supermaket.

But she's right, they 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 mums into a 24-hour taxi service.

They had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And they 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 Express.

But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful the old folks were just because they didn't have the green thing back then...?


wickets said...

memory jogging perspective....thanks!

p.s. Out of all that lost in the past, the milkman is still the hardest to accept :)

Dani said...

Wickets - I agree. Also reckon kids today miss out on the small bottle of milk which was handed out at school at mid-morning break... LOL It went a long way towards helping them concentrate / achieve their best during the rest of the school day.

Jane said...

So much has changed in so little time. And I think the worst result is that people went from having a 30 inch waist to a 55 inch waste, at least they have here in America. Convenience is killing us.

Dani said...

Jane - reckon that the junk food is the main culprit, with the lack of real exercise coming a close second.

frann said...

I used to pack things for shipment with pecans from my trees. My friends and family were sad when I moved. Great perspective.

Dani said...

Frann - as far as this planet is concerned, less certainly was more :-)

lou said...

Thanks so much for printing this. Too many times the older ones get blamed for something that was not of their making. The only mistake that we older ones made, was to want things better for our children. They in turn never appreciate it.

Dani said...

Lou - blame where blame is due. The current generation cannot blame us (older ones) for everything LOL

tffnguy said...

Food also wasn't used for fuel and cars back then really didn't get as bad of gas mileage as is let on. The fuel from food (corn and the like) actually has about 2/3rd the power of gasoline so a car gets 1/3 less mileage on a gallon than what it would on gas. Now with food being used for fuel there is less food for the hungry and people are actually paying a lot more for gas because food is being used for fuel.

On top of all of this an old car kept in good shape can be driven for 25 more years before it would make the same environmental impact of one new car being manufactured. Considering most new cars will never last over 15 or 20 years then that would reset the counter all over because those cars would have to be replaced by new ones.

Dani said...

tffnguy - Completely agree - crops should be for food, and technology should be for modern conveniences (cars, etc LOL) Hydrogen has it's place in the future, when they refine and actually (want to) improve the technology for the benfit of motor vehicles.

Taking care of what you own, was par for the course then, as opposed to the throw away society which now prevails. Graveyards for old cars and aeroplanes is a moot point - modern day vehicles wouldn't last the time they took to make them, as opposed to those which are lingering longer in those aforementioned graveyards :-)

Anonymous said...

Good perspective. Two Generations ago, they also weren't standing in line at a huge grocery store buying a huge shopping cart full of pre-made dinners, boxed foods, etc. They had a garden. They had meat from a neighbor or butcher. If they went to a store they received their purchases in a paper bag which they usually re-used for something or saved it for when they needed to shop again.And when they did shop it was for flour, sugar, baking powder-type things. Emily

Stephanie G. said...

Such a great post! I love it!

Stephanie :)

RobynK said...

Brilliant post!! There's many things mentioned here I've heard my DM talk about.
She remembers most women had the crocheted string bags for their groceries then as they could just roll them up small when empty and pop back into their regular handbag. TV wasn't invented then so you saved your pennies and went to the movies once a month.
Waste was only for the rich and there was no such thing as leftovers from meals as that became the following nights soup/stew or pie.
A car was a luxury as it was usually the farm truck you went to town in and only when absolutely necessary as fuel cost money.
DM was born in 1933 and it seems we could definitely use some of these pre "green thing" ideas today.

Dani said...

Emilysincerely - exactly, shopping at the corner store was for basics mainly - pre-packaged would've been unheard of.

Stephanie - welcome :-) Thank you.

RobynK - I remember my mother having one of those string bags. Yes, I agree, pre-1950 they knew how to do things simpler and stretch a penny.