I came across this amusing story, the other day and thought you may enjoy it. It concerns the archetypal Baby Boomer, now ensconced, in this age of Social Media, Online Friends and bemused in the Digital Moment.
The man, of some Senior years was checking out at his local supermarket, when the young cashier suggested, that he should think about bringing his own carry bags because plastic bags were bad for the environment. He apologised profusely, whilst mentioning that they did not have the ‘green thing‘, in his day.
The checkout assistant, with not a little subtlety, responded, by exclaiming, that today’s pollution was caused by past generations and their failure, to care enough, to save the environment for their descendants.
The man thought for a moment. The young lady was right in one thing; they did not have the ‘green thing’ in his day. He and all his family, who resided in a large, provincial city, on the River Mersey, shared a common bond of caring for their homes, their neighbours and their local environment.
In those days, they returned empty milk, beer and soft drinks bottles to the milkman or shop, from whence they were purchased. Most neighbourhoods had enterprising children, who regularly knocked on neighbours doors to collect empty bottles. Most shops bought empty bottles for one old penny. Twelve pennies later and the entrepreneurial, baby-faced environmentalist, had a silver shilling; a veritable fortune in the 1960’s.
The shop sent the bottle back to the bottler, to be washed, sterilised, refilled and returned, to be sold once more. But then again, there was no such thing as the ‘green thing’ in those days.
The man smiled as he remembered, how all the shops and shopping precincts were not equipped with escalators. He remembered poignantly as he used to walk to the local shops, every day as his father would not use the car for such mundane activities. His mother would not have dreamed, of climbing into a gas guzzling, four-wheel off-road leviathan, with the carbon footprint of a Chieftain Tank, to drive half a mile for 5 pounds of potatoes and half a dozen eggs. But then again, there was no such thing as the ‘green thing’ in those days.
He also remembered, playing in his small ‘back garden’, on a hot summers day, surrounded by gardens on all sides, with bright, white, baby’s nappies, draped, on a clothes line, billowing in the wind. In his carbon free, naturally powered imagination, the gardens resembled sailing ships, sitting silent, waiting to be sailed, to some exotic port like Valparaiso. Nappies were washed as disposable ones had yet to be invented.
He smiled to himself, when he remembered, how his mother used to ask him, to help her, hang the clothes on a clothing line and not incinerated, in an energy-consuming tumble dryer which would send the electricity metre into Warp drive. His mother taught him, how the humble concept, of hanging clothes on a clothes line, could be turned into a Tracey Emin masterpiece.
Wind and solar power, really did, dry everyone’s clothes in those days, long before it was fashionable. He laughed to himself as he remembered his mother’s expertise at recycling. As the eldest child, he always had new clothes but was lectured vehemently and taught, to look after them as they were going to be handed down to his two younger brothers. But then again, there was no such thing as the ‘green thing’ in those days.
He remembered, with great fondness, running home from school, at the speed of light, to sit down, to watch Bill Grundys’, half hour programme, every Monday, presenting classic, episodes of Charles Dickens masterpieces such as Great Expectations. There was only one television in the house so he had to beat his siblings home, in order to turn the TV on. If his Dad was on ‘Earlies’, he may have to shoot(metaphorically speaking), next door, to watch it on his Aunty’s TV. The television which was black and white, had to be switched on by hand and the three channels located, without the aid of Google Maps, by actually climbing off the sunken settee, walking across the room to turn the dial. The television itself had an ingenious, inbuilt, energy saving device known as a coin box. The television had to be activated with a florin or two shilling coin which would provide you with two hours of television heaven. If a shiny new coin was not deposited in the coin box, before the previous coin expired, the television would automatically shut down; a brilliant idea, which saved thousands of hours of vital fossil fuel. The downside is that you very rarely saw the end of a programme.
He would have been amazed, by the modern television which is larger than his old living room and operated by a remote control, that could have put Neil Armstrong on the moon. He also laughed as he pondered the thought, that the modern television, consumes more electricity on standby, than his old household used in a month. But then again, there was no such thing as the ‘green thing’ in those days.
He remembered his mother’s incredible, home-made apple pies. The apples were picked from a tree in the garden and his mother created the most incredible pastry from flour and water, in the kitchen, with a rolling-pin which often doubled as a neighbour warning device. There were no electronic food processors, whisking devices, liquidizers, smoothy machines, electric knives or microwave ovens. But then again, there was no such thing as the ‘green thing’ in those days.
Back then, people cut the lawn with a push mower, exercised by working, thought a treadmill was for exercising the pet hamster, drank from a tap with a cup or placing one’s mouth under the spout, not a disposable styrene cup, filled their pens from an ink well, had one razor and replaced the blade, not the razor. But then again, there was no such thing as the ‘green thing’ in those days.
He then thought to himself, how sad, that the current generation, laments how wasteful, he and his neighbours were, just because they did not have the ‘green thing’ back then. Maybe, that is why, when he grew up and entered the display, photographic and printing industry in 1983 and much later, after discovering the ‘Green thing‘ he vowed to try to understand it and do his little bit for the environment. He also was determined to understand the ‘Green thing’,by way of apology, to today’s, more socially aware and responsible society because, back then, we should really have had the ‘green thing’.
If this has been written, with tongue, ever so slightly in cheek, I unreservedly, apologise. I really am, passionate about the environment. I wrote a small booklet on creating graphics that impact more on customers and less on the environment. If you are interested, you can find it at http://c3imaging.com/environmental/.
If you have any comments or questions, I would be delighted to hear from you. My name is Steve Howard. You have been reading the Digital Circus.