Intelligent Energy

Grumpy Old Woman's energy tips

Grumpy Old Woman's energy tips

Posting in Energy

Pay attention to the wagging finger. And for goodness sake, use the clothesline. The sun is your friend. And another thing....

"Who stole my plastic bag?"

My job's a snap today. I'm simply republishing the hilarious reflection below on how stupid we denizens of post post post modern society are when it comes to energy and the environment. It came to me as one of those viral, pass-em-around jokey emails, having originated, I believe, in England. I've Americanized various place names and references, except that I left "fish and chip shop" intact. There's really no U.S. equivalent to a British "chippy."  A mom-and-pop burger joint might do, as long as there were a few flies.

I've kept the original title,  "The Green Thing," but I've added my own "subtitle" about the wagging finger, plus the headline above about the grump. There's a lot of truth in the jest, and it all makes good light reading for the weekend. I attempted to find and identify the original author, to no avail. Free free to step forward, whoever you are. Thanks to the old fisherman who sent me this. --MH

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The Green Thing: Pay attention to the wagging finger. And for goodness sake, use the clothesline. The sun is your friend. And another thing...

By Anonymous.

Checking out at Wal-Mart, the young cashier suggested to the older woman that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment.

The woman apologised and explained, "We didn't have this green thing back in my earlier days."

The assistant 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, soft drink bottles and beer bottles to the shop. The shop sent them back to the plant to be washed, sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over.  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 elevator or escalator in every store and office building.  We walked to the grocers and didn't climb into a 200-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 diapers because we didn't have the throw-away kind.  We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 2000 watts -- wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back then.  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 not a screen the  size of Texas.  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 gasoline 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.

When we were thirsty we drank from a tap instead of drinking from a plastic bottle of water shipped from the other side of the world.  We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor when 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 moms into a 24-hour taxi service.  We had one electrical socket 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 fish and chip shop.

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, grumpy old git who needs a lesson in conservation from a smartarse young person.

Remember:  Don't make old people angry. We don't like being old in the first place, so it doesn't take much to piss us off!!!

Note: The original version of this "Americanized" story shockingly referred to "gasoline" as "petrol." The editor, an American expat living in Britain, should have known better. He corrected the word at approximately 3:30 a.m. PDT, May 28. He begs forgiveness, and hopes to avoid incarceration upon his return. For more on the language difficulties, see "expensive tomatoes" comment below. Thanks to reader Tinman57 for spotting the gross oversight.

Photo: Tim Caynes via Flickr.

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Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure