the green thing, the good old days, and leaf bloody blowers!

Es­ti­mated reading time is 5 min­utes.

WHEN I WAS A KID growing up in North­eastern Penn­syl­vania, we reused paper bags from gro­cery stores as school­book jackets. My brother Charles and Donnie and me would spend Sat­urday morn­ings scouring the neigh­bor­hoods looking for dis­carded soda bot­tles, which we turned in for cash at Max’s gro­cery store.

Which we’d promptly spend on Tasty Cakes (ten cents per pack with 2-3 cakes per pack) and 16-ounce bot­tles of RC Cola (thir­teen cents a bottle) and Max would let us read mag­a­zines while we con­sumed our purchases.

We had a small-screen, black & white tele­vi­sion in the living room that we all watched at night. There were no street­cars left in Wilkes-Barre, but a dime would get you a bus ride to al­most anywhere!

I have no in­ten­tion of using this site to re­cycle emails that make the rounds every few years—un­less they are as good as this one. So, without fur­ther ado, here is the email “The Green Thing and the Good Old Days.”


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We didn’t do the green thing

Checking out at the store, a young cashier sug­gested to an older woman that she should bring her own gro­cery bags be­cause plastic bags weren’t good for the en­vi­ron­ment. The woman apol­o­gized to the young girl and ex­plained that “We didn’t have this ‘green thing’ back in my younger days.”

The young clerk re­sponded, “That’s our problem today—your gen­er­a­tion didn’t 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, gro­cery stores bagged our gro­ceries in brown paper bags that we reused for nu­merous things—besides house­hold garbage bags, we used brown paper bags as book covers for our school­books. This was to en­sure that public prop­erty was not de­faced by our scribblings.

We cut the bags open with scis­sors, turned them in­side out, and wrapped them around our school­books as pro­tec­tive jackets. Scotch tape (often the only brand available—and the green one, not the red one) was used to hold the flaps down on the in­side of the book’s cover.

We would then per­son­alize each book by writing our names and the book’s title on the front and often drew pic­tures or glued photos cut from mag­a­zines onto the back cover.

But too bad we didn’t do the ‘green thing’ back then.


We used brown paper bags as book covers to en­sure that public prop­erty was not de­faced by our scribblings.


Back then, we walked up the stairs 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.

We also re­turned milk bot­tles, soda bot­tles, and beer bot­tles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed, ster­il­ized, and re­filled so it could use the same bot­tles over and over. This is now called re­cy­cling.

We washed the cloth baby-diapers be­cause we didn’t have the throw­away kind. We dried clothes on a clothes­line in the back­yard, not in an energy-gobbling ma­chine burning up 220 volts. Wind and solar power re­ally did dry our clothes!

Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sis­ters, not brand-new clothing from the Gap.

But that young lady is right—we didn’t have the ‘green thing’ back in our day.



While most veg­e­ta­tion ran­kles at the very thought of con­tact with a metal rake, leaves have no problem with being moved around by bamboo—and most lawns con­sider a good bam­booing akin to a good massage.

We stirred by hand

Back then, we had one TV, one radio, and maybe one record-player in the house—not one 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 Rhode Is­land. 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. We ex­er­cised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on tread­mills that op­erate on electricity.

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 raked leaves with a bamboo or metal rake; not a gas-guzzling leaf-blower. We trimmed the edges of our lawns with hand-shears and pulled weeds by hand, not with an elec­tric whip.

But she’s right—we didn’t have the ‘green thing.’


In order to find the nearest burger joint, we used the yellow pages.


Back then, we drank from a foun­tain when we were thirsty in­stead of using a plastic cup or 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.

People took the streetcar or a bus to work. Kids rode their bikes to school or walked in­stead of turning their moms into a taxi ser­vice in the fam­i­ly’s 8 mpg SUV, which cost what a whole house did be­fore then.

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—we used the yellow pages.

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?


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Raking leaves creates jobs

I re­alize this is simple as all get out, but it does make a point or two. I will end this by nom­i­nating the leaf-blower as the most costly and re­dun­dant of all the “en­ergy saving” de­vices: it cre­ates noise pol­lu­tion, air pol­lu­tion, and uses up fossil fuels.

And it doesn’t do any­thing but move the leaves from one place to an­other, only to leave them there to be blown back by the wind!

Plus, it takes work away from people: in­stead of one man with a blower, sev­eral men would be re­quired to ac­tu­ally rake and col­lect the leaves. That is, raking leaves cre­ates jobs!

I found the cool image at the top of this page as an il­lus­tra­tion for a re­view of the STIHL BGA 56 Cord­less Leaf Blower on The Test Pit web­site. How has someone not made a movie based solely on this image?





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