Saturday, 18 January 2014

Being Green

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Here's a pretty good comment I came across at SHTF Plan, written by someone called Eppe.

Being Green

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the much older woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment.

The woman apologized and explained, “We didn’t have this ‘green thing’ back in my earlier days.”
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The young clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.”
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She was right — our generation didn’t have the ‘green thing’ in its day. Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store 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.
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But we didn’t have the “green thing” back in our day.
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Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags that we reused for numerous things, most memorable besides household garbage bags, was the use of brown Paper bags as book covers for our school books. This was to ensure that public property, (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribbling. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags.
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But too bad we didn’t do the “green thing” back then. We walked upstairs, because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.
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But she was right. We didn’t have the “green thing” in our day.
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Back then, we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throwaway 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.
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But that young lady is right; we didn’t have the “green thing” back in our day.
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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 the state of Montana. 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 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.
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But she’s right; we didn’t have the “green thing” back then.
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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.
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But we didn’t have the “green thing” back then.
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Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service in the family’s $45,000 SUV or van, which cost what a whole house did before the “green thing.” 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 computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.
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But isn’t it sad that the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn’t have the “green thing” back then?

5 comments:

  1. Great post. Our generation is quite fed up with these ignorant young twits! They have no concept of downsizing quality of life to conserve resources. Trading a gas guzzling SUV for a slightly less gas guzzling hybrid but more expensive SUV doesn't amount to squat! I think this whole "green movement" is more about political correctness without any sacrifice of lifestyle luxury. What's the carbon foot print of the Starbucks fancy coffee drink with its beans shipped half way across the globe? If hard economic times return, this new generation of pretentious upstarts will learn the real meaning of resource conservation!

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  2. What you are talking about here is 'greenwash' which is the dressing up of profit as environmentalism. The store increases its profits by not producing plastic bags and expects you to be grateful for this because they are saving the planet.

    As a rule I say that every genuine green measure should save you money and not cost you money. How can consuming less of the world not be cheaper? Going green is also the opposite of a trendy brand.

    6MP

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  3. British stores do not offer paper bags and I wish they did. They have made it a choice of plastic or nothing- and there are moves to introduce a government levy on plastic bags which would mean that the store would charge for this option.

    So here we see the state using its own 'greenwash' to raise money.

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  4. I agree that green measures ought to save you money rather than cost more. This is one of the main problems of the whole environmental movement - they can't sell it!

    In fact, that is one of the reasons I am studying sustainability with this blog - I want to explore what is feasible and beneficial, and what is not. "Sales" is built upon building VALUE for the consumer, and much of environmentalism offers no value.

    Think about the difference in price between a 20yr old Toyota Corolla with faded paint and a bit of rust here and there, and a brand new Mercedes Benz still sitting on a car dealer's lot. BOTH offer the same basic "transportation value,' in that they both serve the same purpose of bringing you from A to B... but one fetches a price of $2,000 and the other $60,000. In other words, there is $58,000 worth of "value" that the Mercedes must present over top of basic A to B transportation. That value might be shown in prestige, or reliability, or comfort or safety or a host of other "values," but it is NOT "transportation value." There is $58,000 of value the Mercedes must represent on top of the Corolla in order to justify someone parting with the extra cash.

    The same occurs in the Green Movement, which I constantly hear cannot make it in the free market. I think the problem is that the Green Movement is selling the wrong thing - they are trying to sell people on caring for the environment at great personal expense to themselves - it is completely at odds with people's personal selfishness, which of course fuels Capitalism.

    I think the green movement has created a lot of really neat things over the years, and the technology is getting better and better... but now it must present itself as beneficially providing VALUE to the consumer, rather than only providing a smug sense of moral superiority.

    What are the benefits of building an environmentally friendly home? Well, if you build a bermed house (Such as the bear den article below this one), you don't have to spend $25,000 every twenty years for a new roof - that's a savings of over $1,000 a year. You don't have to paint the outside every ten years, saving you another $250/yr or so, and so on. Keeping a goat is not only environmentally friendly, it protects you against the price of food inflation and saves you money.

    "Green" will take off only when its salesmen figure out how to present some real value for their products.

    The technology is exciting, but the people pushing it are bland and can only really justify it as "morally right" - it's just not enough "value" to convince most people to jump on board. They need to inject some good, old fashioned Capitalism into their collective effort.

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  5. The green movement has two angles of attack. One is to act as a trogan horse for socialism and the other is to become a brand. The basic message of the green movement is that people cannot be trusted to make their own choices. We have to be regulated and told what to eat and what paint is safe to use in our homes. It is the justification for state control in much the same way that feminism is. The state becomes the collective conscience of the people because they cannot be trusted to make the correct choices individually.

    The other 'prong' is to turn 'green' into a brand. This has been highly effective with middle class housewives but has had little effect on men. This may be because women believe in the transforming power of brands. They believe they escape themselves when they associate with them. Men fall for this too- as your Mercedes example shows- but a little less in my opinion.

    The problem is that both branding and socialism are in decline worldwide. The UK consumer has realised how much branding has cost them. They now have the option of buying amazingly cheap alternatives at Aldi and Primark and have discovered them to be quite good.

    I think the road is now open for a green lifestyle that comes from right wing values such as freedom rather than left wing values such as care. We are both part of this movement knowingly or not.

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