Monday, November 7, 2011

I Refuse to Go Green

 This week a friend sent me an email about how my generation is the cause of all the damage to the environment.  After taking a “carbon footprint” test I find I am a world destroyer.  But I want to take exception to those who would blame my generation for all the “environmental damage” we have done to this planet.

As my grandfather would preface his story with—“Back in my day, we. . .  “Well, back in my day we didn’t have green jobs, green technology, green buildings or green cars.  What we did have that might be called a green job was, we walked along the road side picking up pop bottles that we returned to the store for money.  The store then would return them to the pop company where they washed the bottles and used them over and over.  We had glass milk bottles that we returned the same way to be used over and over.  We didn’t have plastic bottles that ended up in the landfill or in the ocean to float around for decades. 

 We didn’t have environmentally save refrigerants in our air conditioning system.  We used cross ventilation.  You open the windows on one side of the house to bring air in and opened the windows on the other side to discharge the air.  We had 100% air infiltration for cooling.  If that didn’t work we used a fan.  We learned to live in the environment not change it.  

My mother washed baby diapers and they were wind and solar dried on a $.99 cloth dryer that hung from two posts in the back yard.  There were no throw away diapers. The only designer clothes we had were when mom sewed a patch on the knees of our overalls.  We wore faded blue jeans because they were second-hand or hand-me-downs.  The only time we worn tennis shoes was for gym class.  Clothes with advertising on them we most often made from feed or flour sacks. 

Back in my day most families had one TV and one radio—not one in every room.  The large TV size was 19” not 56”.  There was no microwave, blender, automatic dishwasher, ice maker, electric can opener or garbage disposal in most kitchens.  Food was baked in an oven, dishes were washed by hand, cans were opened with a hand opener, garbage was fed to the dogs, cats, or pigs.  Aprons were worn to wipe your hands on not rolls of paper towels.  We did not consume thousands of KWH to make our life simpler.  Our life was simple because we made it simple.

Just as a side note-- the garbage disposal dumps food into the sewage system which was illegal to do before 1950.  One of the last areas in the United States to allow garbage disposals was New York City. It didn’t change the law banning them until 1997! Garbage disposals are also less prevalent on other continents, such as Europe and Asia. In all honesty, the only place on earth where the amount of food thrown away is large enough to become a systematic concern is here in the USA.  Elsewhere they can’t afford to throw food away.  I find it interesting that in America today 10-20% of the total waste generated by a family is FOOD!   What happened to eat all your food? Or, “Finish your plate, think of all the starving kids in Africa.”

Back in my day, we drank from a pump with a tin cup hanging on the handle when we were thirsty, not from a plastic bottle from the refrigerator.  We didn’t have health clubs-- we worked for exercise.  We had replacement blades for our shaving razors.  We didn’t have electrical outlets every six feet we had only one with single light in the center of the room.  We had hardwood floors that used a dust mop for cleaning, not a vacuum sweeper that required electric energy.

We mowed our yards which was an assortment of grass and weeds.  We did not pollute the streams and rivers with lawn chemicals that would run off into the water supply.  We raised our food and canned what we raised.  Very seldom did we go out to eat.  We didn’t jump in our car and run to the nearest fast-food to get a sandwich.  We ate our meals at the table with the rest of the family.  

I guess we might have been more “green” back in my day than we are now.  My “carbon footprint” would have been non-existent back in my day.  But things have changed we have more time saving appliances, we have cell phones, we satellites that feed us the latest in entertainment, track our movements, located and start our cars, and find our lost animals for us.  We cook our food in minutes or have it prepared for us at a fast-food place.  We buy our water and soft drinks in plastic bottles and throw them away to end up in a landfill.

While the numbers may be difficult to grasp, consider this: with the garbage produced in America alone, you could form a line of filled-up garbage trucks and reach the moon. Or cover the state of Texas two and a half times. Or bury more than 990,000 football fields under six-foot high (1.8 meter high) piles of waste. According to WM Recycle America, LLC, Americans alone throw away enough aluminum to duplicate the full commercial air fleet of the US.  Back in my day we would have collected the aluminum and sold it-- not send it to a landfill.

But the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the green thing back then?  Well, I happen to like having all the energy consuming devices that have increased my “carbon footprint”.  I like beef.  I don’t like chicken, pork or fish.  I like beef, even if it increases my “carbon footprint.”  I like large cars, air conditioning, fast food, microwave ovens, garbage disposals, and automatic dishwashers.  I don’t like plastic bottles, plastic cups, or the new light bulbs.  I don’t treat my “lawn” with chemicals or even water it during the summer.  I “mow” my leaves in the fall and pray for high winds to move them into the next county.

Don’t blame my generation for the environmental problems we were content with the simple life but this generation had to have all the things that made life easier.  You messed it up--you fix it.

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