Home > Uncategorized > Anyone over the age of 35 should read this, as I copied this from a friends status ..

Anyone over the age of 35 should read this, as I copied this from a friends status ..

Checking out at the supermarket recently, the young cashier suggested I should bring my own bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment. I apologized and explained, “We didn’t have this green thing back in my earlier days“.

The clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations“.

She was right about one thing–our generation didn’t have the green thing in “Our” day. So what did we have back then? After some reflection and soul-searching on “Our” day, here’s what I remembered we did have….

Back then, we returned milk bottles, pop 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 repeatedly. 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 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. But she was right. We didn’t have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby’s nappies because we didn’t have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 240 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. 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 (remember them?), not a screen the size of Wales. In the kitchen, we blended & 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 petrol 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.

We drank from a water 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. 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 mums into a 24-hour taxi service. 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 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

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 post this on your Facebook profile so another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conservation from a smarty-pants young person can add to this

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  1. 11 September, 2015 at 17:45

    Just an fyi. Seems that someone has been translating and blogging this in norwegian as their own text.


  2. 2 November, 2012 at 21:02

    I’m in the UK and I’m 55 . Let’s adjust the sanctimonious perspective .Remember when slavery was good ? Perhaps North America should be given back to the natives ? Making a virtue of the time when nobody had anything proves little . Cant remember that anyone was generally thrilled at wearing hand me downs . they just had no choice! Remember when the none returnable bottle was introduced ? almost everyone who said it was a bad idea was scoffed at then . Did the author protest or scoff ? Lots of things can still be repaired . When my CRT based tv finally died I replaced it with an LCD widescreen (much smaller than wales ) . when that went wrong I repaired it ( using among other other things the repair info I tracked down on the internet ) . My monitor went wrong and I repaired it . my mower is electric but that has been repaired a dozen times . BUT paying someone to repair them would have made no economic sense . The people of today are no better or worse than those in the past . And those in the past are not automatically superior to those in the present . they just think they are . and versa! maybe that’s why it’s all a bit of a mess…

  3. 15 September, 2012 at 16:03

    I think we are forgetting the source of the REAL problem that is fueling this debate. It’s one we don’t want to admit in the way we all live in western cultures. The problem is we buy too much and consume too much in the first place, and therefore we have more to throw away (more to recycle). While some of the comments are valid that we do much better now that we did in the 70’s in regards to recycling, the fact remains that back in the 70’s we had LESS stuff.

    The US government just printed more money. Stimulus they call it. What is the purpose? To boost up a false bubble economy and ultimately get people to spend more money. Our economies are based on everyone over spending. To do that we need to discard our old stuff to buy new stuff. Going Green is Great, but it will take a change in the way we live to change the world. Maybe it’s good that everything collapses so we can learn to live on just what we need.

  4. 3 May, 2012 at 12:32

    It amazing!
    Always UK to save the world!!! We are a tiny island! The size of a penny compared to the next country mentioned below!
    Unless the US, Russia, China & India do something about the CO2 crap!
    It’s just MORE money for the councils/government!
    Amazing how we charge for bags BUT, we are charged for paper bags too!!!!!!
    Work that one out!
    It all OUT of hand, but the UK as usual, is the prime sucker!
    Do you know most of our recycled waste get mixed together again thrown on wastelands in India!!!
    Why sort it the first place!!!
    I give up!

  5. 19 March, 2012 at 08:53

    Love that you got everyone talking, but can’t relate to most of it and I’m 40. In any case, who cares who is to blame? The question is what kind of world do we want to create from this point onwards.

  6. 13 February, 2012 at 10:38

    Great post and very true!

  7. 13 February, 2012 at 10:13

    Love it! Made me smile – first thing Monday morning.

  8. SighedEffects
    12 February, 2012 at 01:43

    I think the title should be “over 45.” Or maybe it’s because I grew up in NJ and not the UK.
    I cannot relate to most of this personally.

    What I can relate to is being driven around as a child in a car that got 13 miles per gallon. I can recall throwing all refuse in the garbage – plastic containers, glass, metal – and all of it was just dumped in a landfill.
    I remember dumping electronics in landfills.

    I remember having no concern for the origins of food.

    As I recall, everyone older than me (who would be exceeding 35 today) was pretty reckless with the environement. I particularly love memories of beig packed into an elevator with 15 smoking adults as a child. Or being told to wash paint off my hands with gasoline. Or watching others dump used motor oil and antifreeze in the woods.

    • 9 March, 2012 at 21:07

      It is corrected 🙂

      • 26 May, 2013 at 12:54

        People used to dump motor oil in city drains when I was young. We had to have a pu
        blic advertising campaign to stop it.

  9. 31 January, 2012 at 11:39

    Just want to chick this in the mix, mostly to mess with yo brains, people:

  10. 29 January, 2012 at 05:51

    Wow. The site deleted some text and made a mess of the paragraphs my comment after I posted it, sorry.

  11. 29 January, 2012 at 05:46

    Is the “cashier” also a “clerk” or are these two different people?

    >>The clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations“.<>Checking out at the supermarket recently, the young cashier suggested I should bring my own bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment. I apologized and explained, “We didn’t have this green thing back in my earlier days“.<<

    Plastic shopping bags as we know them, have only been in use since the early 1980's.
    The author has no reason to be naive about reusable bags, given the testimony suggests they were around for a long time before the 80's.

  12. 26 January, 2012 at 13:51

    I was born in 54, so I remember most of what you describe and I agree we were “greener” back then, but our generation also embraced this disposable lifestyle. I have not read all the comments above, so I am sure others have addressed what I bring up… but still, there were many things 50, 60 years ago that we ought to return to.

  13. Julie Anne Wight
    20 January, 2012 at 22:08

    This is a ridiculous post when considering that all of the inventions and things cited as being wasteful when compared to what older generations used to do are not the products of the youth of today, but of that older generation’s efforts to make their own lives easier, more entertaining and convenient. Don’t blame people under 35 for big screen TVs, washers and dryers… I’m 35 and my dad used to burn all his trash in the back yard and has always driven enormous, gas guzzling vehicles. I bike to work, have taught my parents how to recycle, even if it means an extra step than hauling to the end of the driveway with the trash, bring my own grocery bags to the grocery store (which I walk to) and give reusable food storage bags as gifts to friends and family. I know my entire generation isn’t like that, nor is the one ahead of or behind me. But this post is just so doggone silly.

  14. 19 January, 2012 at 16:30

    this doesn’t really make sense…the cashier is right, it’s the baby boom generation that are the pigs of the planet…who drives the SUV’s, invented all the electronics, and created mass consumption?

    • 31 January, 2012 at 11:44

      I dare you to give up electronics. Forever.

    • 1 February, 2012 at 03:21

      It may not make sense to you, but the article accurately describes how we lived back in the 50’s and 60’s. All of these things mentioned in the article were true. And you are correct that we live in a mass consumption society now.

  15. Devil's Inquisitor
    18 January, 2012 at 23:12

    Reading the various opinions and positions of the commentators for this post is an incredibly revealing exercise in itself – we all live on the same planet, have access to the same internet, and can (I assume) find our way around a search engine to do research. Yet, there is no real consensus of opinion here. Why is that?

    My blog, http://www.devilsinquisitor.wordpress.com, takes an impartial view and provides simple, plain English blogs on the basics of what governs our existence on this planet. I believe that unless we commit to researching the facts, we will continue to get the governments and policies we deserve – and thus keep putting our money into the hands of a few ‘ultra-rich’ people who enjoy a privileged lifestyle at the expense of the many.

    We live on a finite planet – there is nowhere else to go – and dreams of colonising another world are the stuff of movies. The energy required to get just one person off the planet is beyond what we can sensibly use, given our current energy needs.

    We, as individuals, must take a good hard look in the mirror and start there – the past is past, the present is now, and the future is at stake.

  16. 18 January, 2012 at 05:44

    I am 59 years old and grew up in Downers Grove, IL, a suburb of Chicago. I find the article interesting because, with a couple of exceptions, that is the way we actually grew up. We weren’t being environmentally conscious back then, but we did live a much simpler life.

    Our first lawnmower was the non-powered push type, but it was impractical for our 1/4 acre lot. We never had a “small” TV, but we only had one, a 19″ black and white, which was replaced by a 25″ color set in 1965. Living in the suburbs, we did not have buses to take, but my cousins, who lived in the city, did. When we needed to get some place, we typically rode our bikes, or we walked, sometimes for a few miles.

    All of the other items described in the article were accurate. Our parents grew up in the Great Depression and they lived through World War II, so they were very frugal. We changed from our school clothes into our play clothes because we would be wearing them the next day and typically the day after that – often for the whole week. When our mom washed our clothes, the wash water would drain out into the holding sink which was sucked back into the washer for the next load. For years she hung the clothes out to dry. (They had such a wonderful fresh smell.)

    As kids we took baths regularly, in fact every Saturday night. We could fill the tub as far as we wanted as long as the water level did not reach above our wrist. If we got really dirty during the week from playing outside, which we did as much as we could, we could only take a sponge bath. At night the family would watch TV together on our single television. We only had 5 channels to watch, so it was a pretty easy choice to go outside and play instead.

    We had a single, rotary dial phone in the kitchen, but our parents frowned on us using. We had no air conditioning and for many years, we did not own electric fans. I still turn off lights when I leave a room (and yes those rooms now have cable TVs and cordless phones). As we got older, more things started showing up at home because my parents both worked and so they had more money to buy things. We as kids worked too…paper routes at first, followed by part time and summer jobs.

    We started to become environmentally aware in the late 60’s and 70’s because of smog and and water pollution. The gas crises of the 70’s introduced small, more fuel efficient cars. In addition to VW bugs, Toyota Corolas and Coronas became popular.

    Other postings point out accurately that we were far from perfect back then, but in the years from the Great Depression to the mid 70’s/early 80’s, with the exception of the gas guzzlers, we did not live wasteful lives and we got by with a lot less and there was a lot less to throw away.

  17. skierpage
    18 January, 2012 at 00:40

    A lifestyle of ever-increasing resource consumption is fine so long as the population decreases. The major “sin” of the older generation was having too many kids. Everyone can consume less, and most importantly have dramatically fewer children.

    • 7 February, 2016 at 04:39

      I am 66. My Grandfather and Grandmother had 2 kids. My Dad and Mom had one child. I have one child. In the 70s, we actually had a period of Zero Population Growth. So you need to do a little more research and maybe figure out which “older” generation had too many kids.

      • skierpage
        7 April, 2017 at 00:50

        Good for you, but there was no period of zero population growth in the USA. UK had a few years of ZPG around 1977, now it’s back up to a mere 0.5%. World population went from 3 billion in 1960 to 4.4 billion in 1980!

  18. erinhindalong
    17 January, 2012 at 21:29

    Love this post! SO TRUE.

  19. 17 January, 2012 at 19:37

    Gaasedal is right about a couple things: First. plastic bags are bad for the planet — both in their production, consumption and disposal; and, last, many in my generation did NOT care enough to save the environment for future generations.

    We all squirm with discomfort when asked to change. And the sarcastic retort is true for those 70 or older: “We didn’t have this green thing back in my earlier days.”

    I imagine the young cashier was likely offended at hearing the Herculean effort to save our planet from global disaster now passed on to young people being reduced to a “green thing,” like wearing hippie sandals and long hair and smoking pot.

    The cashier’s response was probably not good customer service, but it was spot-on in targeting who is responsible for making the mess our environment is in today. All of us adults who have been living and breathing and consuming the earth’s resources since the 1940s. My generation.

    Remember this bumper sticker: “I’m Spending My Children’s Inheritance” ? Well, it’s true. And as much as it shames me to admit it, we still are.

    Was Gaasedal using an argument trick to change the topic to the good ol’ days so we don’t have to face the cost of our consumer way of life? Judging by some of the comments posted here, the ploy failed.

    Or, is Gaasedal also a provocateur, fabricating a very ironic portrait of the generation that created the environmental mess our planet is facing today — the same generation that is unwilling to go back to the good ol’ days so that future generations of their children will inherit the beautiful, bountiful, bursting-with-life planet that was passed down to them.

    What our young people need to hear is this: “I’m sorry. I’ll change. Can you direct me to where I can buy reusable shopping bags?”

  20. 17 January, 2012 at 17:08

    The author of this article would be hard-put to effectively argue that some (or most) of the examples cited came from any sense of protecting the environment. Sure, I get and understand her irritation and appreciate the cleverness of her article — even if it is mostly wrong… Why not educate instead of mocking and belittling?

  21. Amber R. Sesnick
    17 January, 2012 at 14:33

    I don’t think anyone is criticizing you for not being environmentally friendly in the actions you mentioned in your post. But that does not mean that you do not need to change your behavior in the present. The remarks of a teenage girl at a grocery store is not really something to get your panties in a bunch about. We are talking about a young girl who still thinks she can change the world because the world hasn’t jaded her into realizing that the monster that is society will fight her tooth and nail to ruin all that is good and right in the world.

    While I appreciate the post and the look back to better behavior in the past, it is still the generations before the current one that have molded society in to be the way it is. The current generation can not be blamed – they were not here to do it. So, in essence, it is the fault of prior generations that we are in the situation we are in now. While 20 to 30 years ago things were done much differently, can you say that you don’t take advantage of the modern conveniences available to you now? Can you deny that it was your generation (or the ones closely following yours, as I don’t know how old you are) that invented things like more modern versions of the TV, escalators, kitchen appliances, and the like. While your youth may have been much more environmentally friendly, that was not your direct action, rather the lack of development by the generation before you. That lack of development and your generation’s desire to simplify tasks and enhance experiences was exactly what spurred the great jumps in technology over the past couple of decades.

    Putting all of this aside however, we are in the present day. For better or worse, this is the society and the culture that we live in, and we have done it to ourselves. So instead of complaining that it isn’t your problem because when you were younger the world was a cleaner place, why not take responsibility for the planet the way it is now. While you may not be around forever to deal with the consequences of societies actions, your children and grandchildren will be. And if you feel so strongly that the world was so much better before the technological advancements that we have today, I challenge you to give up that technology. Do you have more than one TV in your home? Do you still walk to get your groceries? Mow your lawn with a push mower? Line dry your clothes? Probably not. I know my homeowners association does not allow clothes lines, and the lawns are maintained by an outside company that I do not have the luxury of choosing. The grocery store where I live is at least 3 miles away with major intersections to cross or highways to travel down to get there. Not exactly pedestrian friendly. While I would love to live in a place where I could do these things, I do not have that luxury, I was not around to mold the society that has built up literal roadblocks against this way of life.

  22. 17 January, 2012 at 13:31

    In fairness to the cashier, she was probably referring to the Industrial Revolution. Hey I’d bet people from the 1800’s thought they were cleaner, greener, and healthier before the automobile. But they can’t rant on a blog about it.

  23. 17 January, 2012 at 12:32

    Oh, yes. Excuse us. We twenty-year-olds obviously invented muscle cars and disposable diapers and ballpoint pens and kitchen electronics and water bottles…… *sigh* The fallacy of older people is that they forget that everything invented and used right now is created by their generation to replace the childhood they had. Any 60-45-year-old who chooses to buy five big screen TVs, then complain that their children and grandchildren are over-weight and lazy, should be looking to themselves as elders to their family.

    And when I look on the corporate management of everyone from the makers of those TVs the size of Wales to the corporate minds who decided that gangsta rap was the next big thing, to the men who created Styrofoam, I see old. White. Men. Not us. Not young people, not anyone else but men who grew up in a “simpler time” and WANTED to make it more complex, violent, and environmentally-disastrous so they could make a profit selling this crap to their own kids and grandkids.

  24. 17 January, 2012 at 06:49

    Some more………….We didn’t have ‘facebook’ to keep awake (with lights on the whole night) to post irrelevant things. We didn’t have mobile phones to text the whole night and keep charging it everyday and waste power. We didn’t have so many TV channels to see the same ‘Breaking News’ and waste power. It is an endless list.

  25. 17 January, 2012 at 01:04

    Personally I liked this article. I am so fed up with kids now a days thinking we ruined the world for them. In my home growing up we recycled everything that could be. If not at the recycling bend we used it in other was. On trash day we only had 2 bags of trash and we had 5 people in our home. We only had 1 TV and one car. We never left lights on if we left a room. A lot of times we lit our house by candle light so we wouldn’t waste electricity

  26. 17 January, 2012 at 00:01

    Interesting discussion but I would have to refer you to an essay by Dorothy L Sayers during WW2 where she pointed out that while in wartime all excess production was being blown up or fired at people, after the wear we would have to chose whether to use this industrial capacity to create more and more useless and unnecessary and disposable objects or we could change the world and make it a better place… so we chose to raise consumers not adults!

  27. 16 January, 2012 at 21:33

    This article is cool — showing how “Green” us older people were–but did not realize it. The trouble is–we may have consumed less as people–but we unwittingly allow ourselves to become the “planet’s pigs”. Industry polluted everything when I was young. As a kid I could have almost walked across the Hudson River. Sewage, garbage and toxic waste was dumped into almost every river in the USA. I personally, without a clue, would take the oil I changed, dig a hole and dump it into the ground. The Japanese dumped so much mercury into their bay, it lead to numerous birth defects. At the trucking company I worked for, we inadvertently fueled a diesel truck with gasoline, emptied the entire 50 gallons onto the back of out lot with nothing but a reminder not to do it again because it drained into the local waterway. Our cars got 8 miles per gallon, gas was 13 cents a gallon, and we gobbled up the world’s resources like we deserved them.
    Looking at the world now at almost 73 years old–I am ashamed at out continued indulgence and consumption–but I am also hopeful that this generation has people like me who know how bad we have behaved and strive to change. I hate plastic — it is a disgusting product. A thermos with tap water works for me as does cloth, rather than plastic bags. As well as all things that cut down on polluting our world.

  28. marvbrown
    16 January, 2012 at 19:05

    Good point, it isn’t any generations fault about what has happened, so who to blame then? Or better said, who is willing to take responsibility? The young cashier sounds bitter and is fighting their current circumstances instead of just doing what they want to do in order to make a difference, they blame others like the older previous generation. The blogger falls into their trap of blame cycle and points out how better their generation was at being “green”.
    This is a no win scenario. People end up bickering about who is right and why rather than addressing what needs to change in order to make the whole situation resolved and disappear.
    Are corporations to blame for making more products with built in obsolescence? Is the consumer to blame for buying these things instead of wholly rejecting them? Is the older generation to blame because they did not teach the younger generations the folly of buying into marketing blind growth capitalism?
    Who cares, we just need to all work together to make things better instead of arguing in a viscous circle about who is right and why.

  29. 16 January, 2012 at 17:09

    “All generalizations are false.” Can’t remember who said this, and of course it’s meant as a joke, but here’s its grain of truth that the author unintentionally highlights: no generation consists of members who were all this way or that way. The previous generation used less electricity or gas in doing housework because the appliances didn’t exist, not necessarily for any inherent thriftiness or moral code. Yes, an event like living through the privations of a war, for example, will tend to make you and your comrades cheap, but it depends where you live, what exactly happened to you, and your personal tendency to see a fresh towel every day, say, as your birthright. My parents left every single light on in every single room because “electricity is cheap.” (We lived near several multiple-dammed rivers.) But the waste seemed senseless to me. I used to go around the house as they departed rooms, turning the damn lights off. Still do, though I judge them less for it. And I have a stupid gas-guzzling van that I drive all over the place, just in case you thought I was making a case for my own fabulousness, individual or generational.

  30. 16 January, 2012 at 14:08

    Absolutely! And there is still a lot to be learned from that.

  31. 16 January, 2012 at 13:40

    Back then? Can’t relate with this article, and reason is that for somebody 35 years old ‘back then’ was the seventies, early eighties, and I can confirm that we threw our plastic Coke bottles in the gutter besides the road, glass milkbottles had already been discarded decade earlier in favor of plastic…

    Back then every department store, other than a country store out in the boonies had elevators and escalators, don’t know what he’s talking about, but sure you’re talking about the 70ties? Back then only granola hippies used cloth diapers, OUR parents used cotton diapers, but we used tons of Pampers back then, and threw them away in the dump…, so wishfull thinking (where did Gaasedal live, some commune?)

    Back then we got in our 1972 camaro with 400HP engines to drive around, just for the heck of it, gas only costs 50 cents a gallon. Back then it was fashionable to purchase every conceivable appliance, because it was new and exciting (remember electrical can openers, 8 track cassettes?) We used a Snapper riding lawnmowers and Mc Donalds served Cokes in styrofoam cups (which was actually kind of nice as ik kept the liquid cool in the hot summers in the south) and we only drank from a water fountain because our weekly allowance was spent.

    Finally, in 1978 I just got my drivers license and we drove to school in an old Chevrolet Caprice station wagon that probably got 10 miles to the gallon. Not sure what year Gaasedal was born, but I’m guessing Gaasedal is from an earlier generation?

  32. 16 January, 2012 at 13:05

    Gaasedal, you seem determined to controvert your own comment whilst attributing it to somebody else… Who said “We didn’t have this green thing back in my earlier days“? That was you wasn’t it? So why the repeated affirmation that the young cashier was right then? By all means reflect and change your position, but don’t put your words in others’ mouths, eh? And suggesting you bring your own bag is a wise call I’d say, shame you didn’t take the suggestion on board rather than getting on your high horse about which generation is the greenest.

  33. 16 January, 2012 at 06:01

    We also had paper bags for our groceries… *back in the day* … great points!

  34. 16 January, 2012 at 05:58

    I’m only 43 years young, but what I can tell you is that “back then” we did have manners and respect for our elders, and what we didn’t have was a mouthful of smug entitlement. I shudder at the thought of our social environment by the time this teller who spoke so rudely is sporting grey hair and some young clerk spouts an opinion to her. Oy. There are all types of environments being tainted with time and she displayed that quite effectively. Great post – you struck a cord with many.

    • 17 January, 2012 at 17:13

      Ummmmm, Noelle — well, maybe you are too young to remember the establishment’s derision of us brass-balled anti-war protestors and peace and justice advocates who were pretty smug in our self-righteousness. If we’d been a little bit less “in your face” we’d probably have been considered more respectful of our elders, but definitely quite a bit less effective…

  35. 16 January, 2012 at 05:51

    Back then we paid for everything in cash not with credit cards, so you only bought the things you needed and could afford.

  36. Mike Emmet
    16 January, 2012 at 04:56

    Interesting piece. Some valid points, though it must be said that it’s kind of annoying to read the repeated assertion that “she was right. We didn’t have the green thing in our day.” “She” didn’t say that, the author did. This piece illustrates well that nothing is black and white. The author is quite correct that the disposable consumer culture has vastly accelerated in recent decades; much more was reused and very little was tossed in the garbage after one use in the past. However, to claim that past generations had less of a per capita impact on the environment is not really accurate. Sure they produced less garbage and consumed less energy, but there was also very little concern for toxicity in our environment, or clear-cutting forests on a massive scale, or strip-mining entire mountains to the ground. On the other hand, the author’s point, that people didn’t just start caring about the environment yesterday, is quite valid.

    I’m in my forties, and I can say from my own experience that the environmental movement was in full swing when I was a kid in the seventies, it just hadn’t been branded “green” yet. (This branding can actually be a bad thing, because it is used to sell all kinds of things that we don’t need, and that are often not at all “green”.) I remember writing a paper in grade six (circa 1979) about how acid rain was killing our lakes… we were aware of the problems back then; we’ve been trying to deal with them all along.

    I remember in the eighties that everyone would pull apart those plastic rings that held six-packs together, because an alarming number of birds were getting caught up in them and dying. Eventually they were phased out entirely for this reason alone. We cared about the environment and it’s inhabitants, just as our parents did before… based on what we knew and were taught.

    I suspect that the cashier is not only woefully naive about the history of the environmental movement, but also of contemporary environmental issues, as are many young people at any point in history. Her generation are the ones who own an Ipod, an Ipad, a laptop and the latest version of the Iphone. The insanely accelerated pace of planned obsolescence in the computer industry is fed by the younger generation’s desire to have all the latest gadgets, and computer garbage is a major landfill problem. It is highly toxic, and computer production requires minerals that are mined in highly exploitative ways in developing nations. Nearly everything today is over-wrapped in plastic; unlike when I was a kid in the seventies. It is possible to minimize being a disposable consumer today, but it is much harder than it used to be.

    As others have said, the inter-generational blame game is pointless. The baby boomers are running the businesses that produce the crap that, by and large, the younger generation is buying; there would be no supply if there was no demand. Even that is a simplification. And solutions are coming from young and old alike. Our problems require long-term vision and sacrifice on everyone’s part. And imagination… my 11-year-old daughter told me just today that she prefers liquid soap for washing her hands, to which I replied that it was far more wasteful to buy a new plastic liquid soap container every couple of weeks than it is to buy a few new bars of soap. She thought for a couple of seconds, and then said “we could buy one small dispenser, and then buy the liquid soap in great big containers that we would only need to replace every few months.” Kind of sounds like how my grandparents would have done it…

    • 18 January, 2012 at 06:07

      Nice reply Mike. I would not be that hard on the author though. He or she was using the ‘Green thing” as a euphamism for “Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations“. The repetition was simplw a writing style designed to reinforce the point.

      I also agree with your blame game comment. We certainly did not do things back then to purposefully harm the planet. I think the prevailing thought was it is a big planet and it will take care of itself until it became clear that it could not and we started taking action.

      Perhaps some of the frugalness of the WWII generation would help today’s young people. I’m a huge recylcler, but it hate all the cans and plastic bottles my adult children and grandchildren fill them with. (Yes I’m the guy that rips apart window envelopes to recylce the paper and digs the paper TP rolls out of the trach to recycle them too). So I loved your comment about the big liquid soap refills.

  37. 16 January, 2012 at 03:02

    Get off your high horse.
    First paragraph “We didn’t have this green thing back in my earlier days“.
    your words, not hers. Don’t bitch out someone who is trying to get you to do the right thing for something you said, not her.
    Many things were by their nature greener back in the old days, but by their nature meant you didn’t need to make green choices. Many things were less green and there were no options if you wanted to be greener. Society in genereal wasn’t aware of the need, and the Lorax didn’t come along till 1971. However may of the older generation can’t change gears now that greener options are availible, and since they never had to make greeen choices back in the good old days refuse to now.

  38. 5jacob5
    16 January, 2012 at 02:10

    The article completely overlooked the real issue, which is called “planned obsolescence”, a business strategy that causes us to buy more useless crap, that breaks faster without replaceable parts and throw away more junk: http://www.storyofstuff.org/movies-all/story-of-stuff/

  39. cjdeez
    16 January, 2012 at 01:16

    Great article and well written points. If any generation destroyed the planet it would be the 80s. The 90s we figured out we have a problem and now we are trying to fix it.

    • 17 January, 2012 at 17:21

      Yep. It all happened in the 90’s, for sure. That’s why the EPA was signed into law by Nixon in the… Well, damned if it wasn’t the 90’s after all. And why the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts were signed into law by Nixon in the… Well, I’ll be damned if it wasn’t the 90’s after all! And why modern day U.S. recycling began on Earth Day 1970 in Portland, Oregon — oops! Well, I’ll be damned if it wasn’t the 90’s after all. And why the Endangered Species Act was signed into law by Nixon in 1973…. Well, I’ll be damned if it wasn’t the 90’s afterall….

  40. 16 January, 2012 at 00:57

    Oh dear oh dear..what a crock!..It is not well written…it is a wistfull load of frustraton vented by soemone with way to much time on his/her hands…..I doubt that in this day and age a kid or checkout person would belligerently propose that a customer of the store was the cause of the world’s environmental woes, unless the customer in question had opened the door with some remark or other….and It wasn’t YOUR day or anybody else’s so you can give up the neurosis about how you miss it….it’s gone….yeah technology is just a total BUMMER…media has done nothing at all to prompt greater social awareness or education…you just need to temper it…….Get a life or find something helpful to write about…Thank heaven for the green movement……they need to breath down our necks to stop old bigots like this from spewing their carbon dioxide all over and choking our sense of being and

  41. 15 January, 2012 at 23:22

    I know some things I list still exist, but hey..for humoring me..

    in the ol’ days we had: (and please anyone..add to this!)

    Leaded gas
    Asbestos insulation,walls, brake pads..ect
    Carburetor cars with no emissions control..
    wood/coal burning fireplaces (everyone did) spewing out smoke
    single pane windows with no hope in hell of making a home energy efficient
    lead piping for standard water pipes in homes (very healthy! no wonder we’re all mad!)
    Thalidomide (thank god there are better clinical studies today..lol)
    (CFCs, freons, halons) ozone depleting substances
    no Justin Beiber (sorry..couldn’t resist!)

  42. 15 January, 2012 at 23:00

    I am not a fan of this article. To me it seems like convenient rationalization and playing the blame game. Although in retrospect these things all seem wonderfully green, why is it that they are no longer common place?

    The reality is that most of the stuff the author points out was developed, implemented and is now used by older generations.

    It’s partly because people were unaware or indifferent to the consequences that society today is so consumeristic, wasteful and disposable.

    It’s pointless and impossible to blame 20-somethings for the current state of affairs. Are they the ones who have made society this way or did they simply come along at the wrong time. It is the younger generations that are a product of society, not the other way around. How many people younger than 35 are actually in a positions of power, where their decisions have any real impact on public policy and such?

    Finally this article is needlessly divisive and condescending. Regardless of the origin of the problems we face today, our only chance of succeeding is everybody working together to find solutions. Pitting old vs. young is just distracting us from the legitimate problems of over-population and pollution that humanity faces.

  43. susanrm8
    15 January, 2012 at 21:32

    Oh fer pete’s sake. I was taught water conservation from age 6, the first organic supermarket was in my home town, and we biked or walked everywhere we could. Everything was all about “green” when I was growing up. This is a total generalization depending on what the propaganda was where you lived. (I am 44 now.)

    And those older folks this article may apply to: I really object to this, because those folks were responsible for heavily polluting our air, ground and water, which we later had to clean up, as well as encouraging us all to smoke. They are far from scot free from responsibility.

  44. qwertinsky
    15 January, 2012 at 21:29

    This author has trouble with time. I am almost 50, grew up in the 70’s. and we had televisions in my bedroom, my brothers bedroom, my parents bedroom, the living room and the basement. Milk came in plastic or cardboard jugs. Escalators were common in malls and department stores. Used a riding mower to mow the lawn, had a washer and dryer in the house. Blenders, electric mixers, dishwasher in the kitchen we even had a microwave but it was called a “Radar Range”.

    • pteske70
      18 January, 2012 at 21:11

      I grew up in the 70’s also. We had one television in the house. Us kids were my Dad’s remote. The only people I knew who had more than one television was someone who was considered rich. We did have milk in cardboard cartons. I did mow the lawn with a push (not gas) lawn mower. I drank my soda out of a glass bottle or can and we recycled all of them. During the summer, my mother would always hang clothes out to dry because it wasted too much electricity to run the dryer. We walked to school. The only time we got a ride to school is if it was -20 or lower. Other than that, we bundled up and walked. My Dad refused to turn the heat higher then 68 at any time. We had a wood burning stove that used wood we would cut ourselves. We never owned a microwave.

  45. soccerchick05
    15 January, 2012 at 21:12

    Don’t forget that we only had paper bags ‘back then.’ I remember covering all my school books in them as protective book covers. We occasionally used them as wrapping paper for gifts that my brother and I then drew cartoons on.
    Any paper bags that were left were filled with old newspapers and dropped at a recycling location. Guess we were weird that way.

  46. theeponym
    15 January, 2012 at 21:11

    What a load of nostalgic crap! If other gen x’ers want to romanticize about the past and delude themselves, I couldn’t care less. But I can’t.

    We DID drive everywhere. We DID promote 2+ cars for every family. We DID have/build strip malls and vast expanses of houses nowhere near the services they needed. We DID have appliances for everything (I still use a late ’60s/early ’70s blender). We DID buy products incessantly (hint: there’s a reason Mad Men is set in the ’60s). We DID produce vast amounts of chemical pollution (the Cuyahoga river caught fire in the ’60s). And notions that we didn’t use disposable diapers or power lawn mowers are straight up lies. We had those over 50 years ago, let alone 35.

    I’m glad the original author brought up the term “energy gobbling” because that’s exactly what our products were 40 years ago. The number of electronic devices we use has absolutely gone up. But that has been offset by huge gains in efficiency. You may be shocked to know that per capita energy consumption is largely unchanged since 1970.

    Everything this diatribe talks about a being a failing now not only applied back then, but _started_ then and earlier. Suburban sprawl, driving everywhere, consumerism, high energy consumption, appliances for everything, atmospheric damage, heart disease, obesity—all of that originates from 50 to 60 years ago.

  47. 15 January, 2012 at 20:20

    I do take the stairs, I do wear hand me downs when I can, I dont have a tv in my room, I do stir by hand, I do use news paper instead of bubble wrap, I do have a push mower, I do walk outside and not on a treadmill, and I also use my own bags at the store as often as possible because I do care about the green thing. I cant believe this lady is saying this about us “smarty pants” young people that are trying to make a difference in the world. She needs to shut her mouth and bring her own bag next time!

    • 17 January, 2012 at 17:24

      Right on! (to crib a phrase from my youth … lol)

  48. 15 January, 2012 at 19:50

    To: HeliTrips, you unfortunately forced me to do a little research on YOUR “Finger Pointing”. I was born in the early 1960’s and here is what I found today on About.com: The first riding lawn mower was created and used in 1827 in Thrups just outside of Stroud in Gloucestershire. It was mainly used on sports grounds. The remote was seen in 1956 but was described as far back 1893 by Nikola Tesla. Germans used remote control motor boats during WWI and in the late 1940’s the first non-military remote control was used for auto car garages. For the escalator…….first patent for an escalator type machine was granted in 1859 to a Massachusetts man for a steam driven unit and in 1892 Jesse Reno patented his moving stairs or inclined elevator as he called it. Disposable diapers!!!…. they were patented in 1949 by Stanley Mason…..so from what I can research of just a few of those mentioned…folks were killing the “GREEN” way long before MY GENERATION!!!! Do yourself a favor on that wonderful machine called a COMPUTER and GOOGLE a few things before you decide to speak out next time!!!! from MY generation……JUST SAYIN’…..!!!!!!!!!!! Technology has been moving forward as long as time has been passing. Some inventions were great and very much needed, others not so good and that dear readers is that..:D

  49. 15 January, 2012 at 19:27

    Such a great post! Loved it, tweeted it:)

    Such memories. I loved taking the bottles back to the shop and getting a penny off the next bottle of Cloudy Limeade (A Northern Ireland speciality)….

    Thank you for wonderful words.

    Lesley xx

  50. 15 January, 2012 at 17:57

    Brava! Well said.

  51. 15 January, 2012 at 17:49

    Haha, what an idiot. I’m close to the age of 35 so I will say you drove boat sized American cars and burned leaded gas, you built drafty houses heated with oil, you had the industrial revolution and DDT. You smoked indoors, and everything was sent on paper through the mail. The TVs used more power than they do now, tape and record players have motors, MP3s don’t. You didn’t have programmable thermostats, LEED programs, heat recovery, or the Montreal Protocol. You used ozone depleting refrigerants and played with mercury. AND HOW CAN YOU SUCK 230 VOLTS? Voltage is a potential, an outlet can be a million volts it only matters what the wattage is, like those old 100 watt light bulbs you used to use. And on and on…

  52. 15 January, 2012 at 16:48

    Mankind continues trends in consumption as much as previous generations rather than living more consciously, and with presence in attention to the entire ecosystem and our part in it. Perhaps kids should be even more critical about past responsibilities relinquished because and thereby form the conviction that previous generations had not in these paths, gain the conviction and fortitude necessary to cut new, more thoughtful paths we have not been so bold to take.

  53. petraquinnblog
    15 January, 2012 at 16:18

    I totally agree with what that person writes in their article! However!!! So if you know about all this why aren’t you still doing it? I would love for my kids to ride their bikes to school, like I did, but they are not allowed! They can’t even walk to school from Bay City, because no one is willing to have a pedestrian light put in! So the only people allowed to walk to school are the ones living on the same side right behind the school! I have a close line iin my yard! I would love to take the bus, but there are none! And also, if you send your kid walking these days , you have to be worried they won’t come home! It’s a weird world we live in. SO in regards to that cashier: Good for her! If every cashier would tell the customers, people would maybe start thinking again, like u did! And you caan buy reusable bags too, it’s just that remembering thing… remembering to bring them is the issue… and just like with that email about how we survived without helmets, seatbelts, condoms etc… yeah, we all learn overtime don’t we….
    I agree with an earlier post, you shot yourself in the foot with them comments!

  54. 15 January, 2012 at 16:03

    I observed in the first few lines of this post that you, gaasedal, were the one to say, “We didn’t have this green thing back in my earlier days.” The clerk never spoke these words. Thus, in your post, you have found a way to logically disprove your own argument while simultaneously twisting the clerk into some berserk red herring. You have also managed to praise old fashion methods to the point where the readers are forced to assume that you willingly neglect that any problems currently exist given the growth of technology because of “how things used to be.” Congratulations. This post openly proves your own hypocrisy because you denied your resolve to put forth any effort to fix the problems we do have. Your desire and heavy need to be right are superceded only by your ego.

  55. 15 January, 2012 at 15:58

    (Saw this on Facebook. It’s gone viral…) Right on!

  56. 15 January, 2012 at 15:16

    There’s a lot of people think what they do is important. It’s not. It’s just making them feel etter about the little they are able do. You’re not changing the world. You’re just packaging your junk in a different way.

  57. 15 January, 2012 at 14:50

    Be it yesterday (20,30,40,50,60..100 years ago) or today. All we can do is just to care and be responsible! 🙂

  58. 15 January, 2012 at 14:00

    Thumbs up! You’ve made so many good points while bringing back a bunch of cool memories for me.

  59. priyashmita
    15 January, 2012 at 13:53

    Loved the article. Awesome writing

  60. 15 January, 2012 at 13:50

    I’m not over 35, but seriously, i had a good time relating to the stuffs you just wrote. I wish i know how it feels like to live in your era. Very, very, very well written indeed! =D.

  61. 15 January, 2012 at 13:02

    Well written? this is moronic. You have blown your own foot off with the proverbial shotgun.

    “No, he didn’t claim the younger generation invented these things. Are you able to read? He pointed out that the older generation didn’t use them even though we lived without the green movement breathing down our necks.” So your not on your computer now? you don’t have a tv, car, ride on lawn mower, plastic pen, use escalators. I think infact you are describing your parents…

    The entire change process you are describing here is caused by people who are now well into middle ages. It may as well be written… “when I we’re a KID bottles, nappies, tv’s, pens….. now look at the world since i’ve run a company, bought products, stimulated development, become lazy and set an example to the younger generations”

    In fact, the topic of argument it self is really not one i’m passionate about, more the irony of what the writer has proven, or disproven, and the number of people here who are exactly what it describes, pretending they are the perfect example of the good old days. Perhaps once, long ago, before YOU changed how you/we live. I would like to say thank you to the folk who have improved medical advances, given me a much better quality of life, produced opportunity to live in a healthy life, in a safe environment with good human rights and moral upbringing. Abolished caning, reduced racism, kept war off our shores, and improved education and equality.

    • 15 January, 2012 at 19:27

      Hear hear! I totally agree with what you have said!

    • 16 January, 2012 at 00:48

      Helitrips. You obviously are a fucking blithering idiot. I hope you and your mother die TONIGHT.

    • Andiis
      16 January, 2012 at 05:51

      I’m 58 yrs old and the writer describes my life up until 1997. I live in outback Australia and we now use the internet for emergency medical help and schooling for the kids. My Dad and Mum lived the old way as do many who live here now.
      So listen fuckhead! You want to blame some one for getting this planet in to the shit that it is, go look in one of your many mirrors and as for your last few points…A SAFER MORE CARING WORLD, HA!!.. you really are an ignorant little prick aren’t you. KEEP WAR OFF OUR SHORES!!.. we have you been!! Sept ’11, Bali, London, Madrid!!!
      I’m so glad that this is not a topic you are concerned with, …just get out of our way!!!

    • ericroberts251
      16 January, 2012 at 20:23

      i agree. I am 43. When i was 10 we didn’t have cell phones or computers for that matter…at least not ones that you can use without knowledge of electronics engineering. Someone above wrote that previous generations were not wasteful…what a crock…did all the environmental issues just pop up on their own? Seriously? We are more green nowadays in most ways, but we have also found new ways to be wasteful and harmful to the environment. We also know now things that are bad so, for the most part, we stop doing them (unless some multimillion dollar corporation can profit, then we either fight it or support it because we are too stupid to do the research ourselves). 20 years ago, we were using plastic bags and just tossing them wherever or some actually made it to the garbage and were put into landfills. Now we are recycling those bags as well as other recyclable products. More of the products we use are recyclable… I think this article is just very intellectually dishonest.

    • 16 January, 2012 at 21:38

      Uh umm helitips,
      Ur under a cloud of illusion!! U speak of how u see the world!! War is at our shores, remember 911 and it’s still knocking only our luck and great CIA have prevented it! Racism is still very strong, it’s just been reversed!! Open your eyes!!

  62. bibliotekhar
    15 January, 2012 at 11:52

    Good points, but blaming another generation is hardly constructive – in either direction. The clerk in this case was obviously narrowminded (if the above is actually a quote and not a defensive interpretation by someone who was offended). Of course things were not as easy 20 years ago as it is today. Yet it was probably a lot easier than 20 years before. This is how it is, we develop new things and ideas – some of them are good, some of them are really brilliant but in retrospective we see that they bring consequences that we have to deal with. And it is up to all of us to deal with them. I’m in my late twenties and I get annoyed when people behave like that cashier – obviously older generations did not do things out of lack of consideration for coming generations, and obviously you cannot judge all allike. But I’m also sad when hearing people blaming my generation for being stupid, careless, irresponsible and selfish (judging all alike). It is upsetting to hear someone saying that evolution has regressed based on….well, people like me! Am I the only one seeing two generations throwing crap at each other rather than a discussion about sustainable development? Does anyone else wonder what we’re missing out on, busy as we are blaming someone else rather than – I don’t know, working together?

  63. 15 January, 2012 at 11:25

    I think some people are missing the point of the author. At the supermarket he believed “this green thing” was a new concept,but then he realised that back in his youth people were actually very thrifty, frugal and not-at-all wasteful.

    I’d just like to add that today’s society is VERY wasteful and materialistic! People not only have multiple televisions and other electrical gadgets, but they now replace them frequently, not because they are no longer in working order, but simply because they want the newest, biggest and best model to compete with their friends and neighbours. They also throw away perfectly good clothes, rather than repair or update them. Yet Society is far more aware of green issues.

    • angdela56073
      15 January, 2012 at 16:04

      I just have to say that you are making a generalization when you say that today’s society is VERY wasteful and materialistic. I do not have multiple electrical gadgets, I do not replace the few I have unless they are completely broken, and I do not throw away clothes. In fact I repair my clothes myself or I donate them. The only reason I even have a computer is to go to college so that I can better myself.

    • Elle of Chellbellz
      15 January, 2012 at 17:10

      i have to agree with that!

  64. 15 January, 2012 at 09:12

    Hear, hear!

  65. 15 January, 2012 at 08:31

    Most of today’s environmental hipsters associate this green thing with a cult of awesomeness. No complaint here, but it would be nice if they’d be more sensitive, less arrogant and adopt a good-sense measure because it’s logical, not because it bares the sign of revolution in a culture where its representatives don’t really penetrate how things work, at least not technologically. I’m 26 and I don’t agree with some parts of your post. In a pseudo-nutshell, here’s why: back in your days, the power plants and factories did not function under tighter environment safety rules, the cars – just don’t forget the automotive boom in the 60s and onwards – it was – gosh! – exponential – well, the cars! they didn’t have any filters attached to them either! And don’t forget, for example, the way of capitalist consumerist societies: consume and replace, don’t repair anything since you’d be threatening the large pace at which the economy is going. I guess you should start wondering about the real problems, try to understand them DEEPLY and not post a mildly virulent story, that entices the noble minds of enthusiastic admirers of a somewhat smart replica to a more of a stupid or incomplete statement.
    My two cent point: we all suck at keeping the air clean, the temperatures down, the water from teaming with chemicals and the earth with radioactive isotopes. Just keep it in your mind, of course, my subjective view, why such a cliche issue like the “war between generations” should arise even in reaction to serious matters. It’s superficial to blame one person for being from another race or country, but it’s as idiotic to blame someone from being from another time. We all suck, young, old, rich or poor, hipster or university professor.
    And yes, I’m not a native English speaker, so be gentle with stoning me for my language mistakes.. but I felt outraged by yet another stereotypical behviour from my fellow humans: one smart replica and tens of praises afterwards sustaining a biased side of things. Why don’t admit it that we’re equally worthless, as a well known dark comedy movie said.

    • angdela56073
      15 January, 2012 at 16:05

      Great post, I agree! We all suck 🙂

  66. 15 January, 2012 at 07:40

    sigh. you’re really overreacting. just laugh it off.

  67. jaesinmulenex
    15 January, 2012 at 06:25

    Hmmm, Well written in that it is entertaining if you don’t think too far into it.

    I will assume that when he refers to the old times, he is referring to when he was young. Yes it is lovely to be nestalgic about the good old times but you can’t claim responsibility for the world as you inherited it.

    It is the legacy of his generation that the clerk is referring to and the truth is, the older generation still holds most of the power in the world. Policy makers today are still making poor decisions when it comes to balancing free enterprise with environmental concerns.

    The real point is that government has consistently lobbied and voted for profits over environment. They have overlooked breaches of environmental laws in exchange for political contributions and failed to raise the cost of fines when it is more profitable to pay to pollute. The most substantial force behind the “Green Movement” is a grass roots effort so maybe the clerk does have the right and maybe even the responsibility to keep you on your toes.

    All that said, there is no need to be smug. You can’t blame an individual for the result of the last couple of generations. Life was very tough at the turn of the last century. They have done what they can to make life better for everyone. They didn’t have all of the technology and research we have today and it can be very difficult do the kind of analysis needed to predict the impacts of products before they hit the market.

    Now it is up to the younger generations to do a better job. Use the resources and tools you have available to study the impacts of the products you create (Apple, Are you listening). And please, have some respect for the older generation. Without them, you’d
    have nothing to complain about (jk.). But seriously, not everyone is the problem. Be specific when you direct your anger. There are people out there today that are knowingly trading in the the environment for profits (Uhummm, natural gas fracking, cough cough). Why don’t you send them a letter asking them to divert their investments to something a little more sustainable and environmentally friendly.

  68. 15 January, 2012 at 04:43

    Never understand why people say “We didn’t have X our day” in such situations, as if they checked out once they hit 21. Unless you’ve been sequestered from the rest of us as things have changed over the past, oh, 20 years, that’s a very silly thing to say.

  69. 15 January, 2012 at 04:20

    Speaking as a member of the over 35 crowd I have to say this article sounds like rationalization at its finest. Yes reusing milk bottles, for example, would qualify as “green” today and is good for the environment and general sustainability. The problem is that we let these practices lapse while we adopted the use of more and more disposable products. In our turn as adult citizens of the world we let greed, self interest and apathy guide our path instead of actually caring for the world we live in. It’s kind of hypocritical to blame the youth for the state of things when we created the situation they were born into when we had the power to do it different and they haven’t had a chance yet.

  70. hunterog
    15 January, 2012 at 04:09

    First world moralizing over environmental issues is a laughable process of self-congratulation and finger pointing. Industrialized capitalist society functions in such a way that natural resources are consumed in order to satisfy the transient needs and wants of individual human beings. It is unproductive for a young woman to hold a grudge against an older generation – but it is equally foolish to pat oneself on the back for being more ‘green’ because of the consumer structures that existed at the time, as if the fate of their milk bottles was somehow their conscious decision. Nit-picking over what kind of grocery bags we use or how many miles to the gallon our cars get in the face of resource depletion on a planetary scale is generally like rearranging deck chairs on the titanic. If we as humans truly cared about the environment, we would live as ascetics or end our own lives. As it stands, we claim to be environmentalists when we want to appear compassionate or pass judgment on other people that we don’t like. Very convenient for making us feel better about ourselves, but ultimately a useless and even destructive endeavor. Life is consumption, how we choose to feel about that consumption is up to us – but what’s the point of keeping score? We either do what we know is right or don’t, but we shouldn’t bad mouth an entire generation of young people just because we had a bad experience in the check-out line. That’s as bad as the cashier laying all of her woes at the feet of adults.

    Do not let it get to you. The girl is bagging your groceries. She’s not a politician or some intellectual luminary, she’s a wage slave at a supermarket. There are plenty of young people working as doctors and scientists and academics and entrepreneurs who are actively trying to solve the problem of over-consumption in addition to a million others. There are plenty of older people who are doing the same, and enabling a new generation to try and grapple with these issues. There are many people of all ages who are stuck working miserable jobs in a social paradigm that is spiritually unsatisfying and who feel powerless to stop the horrors that mankind perpetuates by the virtue of its very existence. We’re all trying in our own way – the tools we use are the ones that we have at the time. “Kids these days” will succeed us whether we(or they) like it or not – they are inheriting the world and now we’re going to give them grief about it? If life was so great when we were all their age, then why is the world so different now? It certainly wasn’t the fault of our unborn children.

    Life is hard and the desire to be a good human being is ingrained in most of us. Yet the definition of a moral life is a slippery thing and is different for every person. It can be frustrating to have someone flippantly dismiss you as a bad person for what you fell is a tiny mistake. It is even more frustrating to have them dismiss an entire community on such trivial grounds. It can devastating for an adult to be demonized by a child simply for having lived but remember, she is young and inexperienced. With age comes wisdom, she will grow up and learn to empathize with your position. To respond in kind does little good. Turn the other cheek. We must show compassion for those who are new to the world and encourage them to do good when we can. We must try and see people as individuals rather than enemy armies, because individuals is what they are. The times change and people are forced to change along with them. It’s no one’s fault, it’s everyone’s fault. It just is. Good luck to all of us.

  71. 15 January, 2012 at 02:48

    Thank you so much. It gets rather tiresome listening to cosseted twentysomethings sighing about how the generations before them were so irresponsible. I salute you!

  72. Sean
    15 January, 2012 at 02:29

    I hate to say this…the author can bitch all he wants but those values were not passed down to the next generation through education…..and that money worshipping was all the rage then….

    this pretty much ruin everything for the next generation…..look at the high bonuses that failed banks give out…it is this generation that approves it and benefit from it…..who cares about the green thing…ur generation had greed then and now and it pretty much fucked future generations with materialism and the lack of morals and integrity…

    every generation is responsible for something…the compounded crap is why the current generation….is so cynical…have an open mind..learn from it…quite oppressing new ideas and quit asking for more….

    help others if you can…to generations before me

  73. Devil's Inquisitor
    15 January, 2012 at 02:14

    Interesting observations – as a forty-something I can remember how our ‘carbon footprint’ was much smaller then (even though we’d never heard of the term). We didn’t care much about what we did, there were only 5,000,000,000 people in the world in the late-80s, 2,000,000,000 less than today, and we had a lot less technology. It also helped that outside Europe and North America most of the world was poor so they didn’t consume much at all.

    “Those were the good ‘ol days”.

    Now, we are in a very, very different world and it has nothing to do with the ‘generations’. There are 7,000,000,000+ of us on the planet, more are obese than starving for the first time in history, consumerism is seen as the solution to our debt problems, governments are corrupt, temperatures are rising (no matter what you think is to ‘blame’), and we are all to blame for it in one way or the other.

    Check out my blog and pass on to others if you want to learn more about the basics – http://www.devilsinquisitor.wordpress.com

  74. 15 January, 2012 at 00:45

    As a person who is not big into the “green” scene, I do believe we have a knack for consuming and devouring resources, much like a virus attacking a host until the host is no longer able to sustain life, in most cases, simply because we can. I led our facility to a LEED Certified Gold status for Existing Buildings accompanied with very aggressive recycling practices, and reduced energy usage by 30-40%. I just turned 36 in 2011 and when put into perspective, our “generation” and especially the generation before us, were much better at being conservative with resources than the current generations will ever truly understand. Some of this obviously was more of an impact to families who were lower on the Socio-Economic Status ladder, but they truly understood how to live without these resources.

    I say I am not into the “green” scene because “green” has become a brand. I believe that we need to reduce the amount of resources we consume as long as it makes financial sense.

    Thank you for sharing this!!! I truly enjoyed reading it and sharing it with my friends as well.

  75. 14 January, 2012 at 23:24

    I’m 35 and the only thing worse than the arrogant youth is the middle aged moaning about the “youth of today”.
    It has always been thus. There is nothing new here…..

  76. 14 January, 2012 at 23:20

    The UK is simply about 20 years behind the US. I grew up in the US, I’m turning 35. None of those things apply to me growing up. We had plastic bags, milk cartons, 2 cars, 2 TVs, and disposable nappies.

    This is just a variant on the meme of the older generation telling the younger how they’re doing it wrong, while pretending that the conditions for the younger generation are the same.

  77. 14 January, 2012 at 22:49

    An excellent post very well written and observed. But it’s made me feel guilty for typing on this power sucking laptop, while sitting in a well heated house filled with electrical labour saving devices and entertainment delivery systems! I wasn’t brought up that long go but certainly my childhood home’s Carbon Footprint was definitely not that of a Size 12 boot.

  78. 14 January, 2012 at 22:40

    I disagree.
    It would completely depend on how you grew up, and where. My mother grew up in a small town in Newfoundland, and I have no doubt she grew up like the poster describes, but people living in bigger cities, or other countries? It would have been different. Everything from the houses to transportation.
    There was not real control on pollution back then. So while people were bringing their bottles back to the store, and parents were washing diapers, factories were spewing out black smoke.
    The car has caused pollution since it was made back in 1880’s. And even more so when it became available to the general public. You’re really going to tell me that in the 50’s-70’s Everyone was walking or biking? No way. And there were no hybrid or electric alternatives, just gas.
    The standards for everything was different back “In the day”. All you have to do is turn on the discovery channel and watch an episode of Trashopolis to go, ew. Half of New York is built on top of rotting waste. Not much recycling back in their day. And don’t get me started on Russia. Where playgrounds and apartments are built on toxic dumps. And it’s not because they were villainously cackling, and saying “Lets destroy the earth!”, it’s because it wasn’t as mainstream to go green then.
    There are countries that have been recycling for much longer then North America. And there are still places that tilt their heads and go “Recycling? Huh?”
    I do agree that ours is a lazy generation. But in 30 years, we’ll be saying the same to kids about how we collected cans in our garage and when the bag was full we brought them to the recycling place, or how we use to plug our cars in and charged them with electricity from our solar panels.

    My point is, “Back in the day” varies from person to person. And while some people grew up in wooden houses, with one electric outlet and no dryer, others lived in brick houses, with three electric outlets, a dishwasher and a gas powered car. Since the dawn of humans people have complained about the last generation making everything worse for the new generation. Stop complaining and start trying to make it better. Take your bags to the supermarket, and if someone says “Hey, your generation screwed everything up for us.” just shrug it off and try to do your part to make everything better.

    There’s no point in blaming anyone else, just help make it better.

  79. 14 January, 2012 at 22:36

    This is just silly. The cashier was being a bit of a fool, but the response is hardly any better.
    All the things listed weren’t done for moral or philosophical reasons, but because they were what was available at the time. Go back another 20,000 years and there was virtually no pollution at all from humans – does that make our cave dwelling ancestor morally superior to all of us?

    All we’ve learnt here is that it’s not worth letting your feelings be hurt by ignorant comments. We all need to work together to help the environment, not fall into petty, pointless arguments about which generation is more at fault.

  80. 14 January, 2012 at 22:17

    The young person blames the older generations so the older person justifies his or her actions and places the blame on the younger generations. Both people in this post are ruining the earth because they won’t take any of the blame or the responsibility.

    …and since almost everyone else is the same way, everything is going downhill.

  81. 14 January, 2012 at 22:14

    Still doesn’t explain why this planet destroyer is not carrying their own bags to the supermarket. As an older person who cares about the ability of future young people to enjoy the planet, old people who just try to justify their intransigence give me the royal whoops. Particularly when it seems like their carbon footprint is only swelling further with age, notwithstanding their apparently angelic infancy of milk bottles and hard work ( a long time ago, if their burgeoning bellies are any guide).

  82. 14 January, 2012 at 20:14

    I’m afraid that many of the points made by the original poster are questionable. Whilst I agree with the sentiments expressed, they are not necessarily correct. What our grandparents did was probably what caused the problem in the first place re recycling, because after WW2, they were the generation to buy into conspicuous consumption, overpackaging and ‘convenience’ in a big way. If you look at their parents though? That’s probably the last time we had anywhere approaching a ‘closed loop’ society in the UK – our highest recycling rates as a nation were achieved towards the end of WW1, when we recycled over 90% of all our wastes, and what was landfilled was generally ash from combustion activities – and even that got used in construction. Our recycling rates have improved in the UK over the last decade from a low starting point – recycling in the modern era was at around 5% prior to 1990. We’re now pushing towards 50%, with Wales leading the way on 49% for Q3 of 2011 (the latest available figures.)

    Incidentally, a number of examples that the original poster gives? Aren’t necessarily good examples. The lifecycle assessment of the plastic bottle is better than that of the reusable glass bottle if you close loop recycle it, because it is lightweight and doesn’t take much more energy to turn back into recycled plastic flake than it takes to wash and sterilise a glass bottle. The lightweighting and transport cost reductions mean that the LCA’s are fairly comparable, with the plastic bottle coming out just in front. The same is true when you compare the textile reusable nappy with the disposable one – the LCA’s on both are inconclusive. As regards the energy taken to run an old fashioned small screen CRT telly? More than it takes to run a modern LCD one, and the manufacturing cost is also greater. Also, most of the old style TV’s ended up landfilled, but modern electronic kit isn’t due to the impact of the WEEE Directive.

    If anything, we are much ‘greener’ as a society now than we were 50 years ago for a number of reasons. Sure, we are driven by far more conspicuous consumption – but our manufacturing processes are far less damaging, and we’re killing a hell of a lot less people through the impacts of industrial pollution. (A lot of this is complicated by the fact that we outsource many of our impacts nowadays, so that they are hidden and not immediately obvious)

  83. 14 January, 2012 at 20:14

    Great commentary on the past. When I was a kid we also didn’t have air-conditioning. So hot nights we were outside playing with other kids on the block. No Nintendo or computers. and when it was hot we had fans for sleeping -often just one or two in a window pulling the air through the house!

    I’m now living in Honduras and people who visit complain about the trash. But ten to fifteen years ago here you had to bring your own bag to the market and drinks were in returnable glass bottles. Makes me think about the social pressures that have helped cause pollution and more.

  84. 14 January, 2012 at 20:09

    Darning old socks, remember that….

  85. allan49
    14 January, 2012 at 19:32

    Get off you high horses unless you are over 65 at least!
    I’m a quite a bit older that 35 and I can tell you that in the 70’s and 80’s (someone 35 was born in the 1977) people were using plastic bags. Disposable diapers became very popular in the 60’s and 70’s, as did wonder bread and disposable razors. And most people drove to the store and dried their clothes in the dryer.
    Pop and liquor bottles were recycled where I lived since at least the 60’s, but travelling to other areas in the 80’s and even in the 90’s, many places and never heard of the deposit/return system, and if you took a bottle back to the store they just offered to throw it out for you.
    It’s good that many are getting back to healthier options for ourselves and the planet but let’s not pretend that our young adulthood was back in the good old days, and look at what our grandparents were doing.

  86. 14 January, 2012 at 18:11

    All true:)

  87. 60ssurfer
    14 January, 2012 at 17:19

    Interesting blog entry that skips over the fact that we also used to pour used motor oil down the storm drain, use leaded gasoline at 10 miles per gallon, burned our trash in a backyard incinerator and created ‘super fund’ sites. It was also the people in our generation that created a lot of the ‘conveniences’ this blogger bitches about. Nobody and no generation is free from responsibility for the condition of our planet.

  88. 14 January, 2012 at 17:18

    Well Written but there is one thing you missed.
    Your generation runs the companies that produce the plastic bottles with water, markets and brainwashes the new generation to think that that is the only clean water to drink.

    Agreed, the next generation is lazy
    but it is your generation that made them that way. Stop buying them stuff. Let them earn their keep.

    You want to see heaps of plastic lying around waiting to disintegrate into the earth, go to India, go to some Vietnam, take a train ride and look along the entire route, bottles along the side of the train tracks for hundreds and hundreds of miles.

    All in the name of plastic.

    • 14 January, 2012 at 17:18

      I meant all in the name of profit. lol!

  89. 60ssurfer
    14 January, 2012 at 17:17

    Interesting blog entry that skips over the fact that we also used to pour used motor oil down the storm drain, use leaded gasoline at 10 miles per gallon, and burned our trash in a backyard incinerator and created ‘super fund’ sites. It was also the people in our generation that created a lot of the ‘conveniences’ this blogger bitches about. Nobody and no generation is free from responsibility for the condition of our planet.

  90. 14 January, 2012 at 16:32

    There is no way that the generation under 35 can be blamed for everything. We were raised in a world where we had everything handed to us with ease and efficiency because our parents raised us that way. There is no way that all the things that were mentioned in this article were created by people under 35. Electric lawnmowers, cars, plastic bags, everything was created by the older generation to make their lives easier and faster. The only thing that the younger generations do is use all the things that were created for us, and improve on the versions of products that already exist. I’m sure you’d love for everyone to still be driving to the little farmers market on their horse-drawn wagon, but it’s not practical, and a lot less efficient. It is the older generations that have made the younger generations dependent on this stuff, and now that we are aware of the environmental effect, are trying to come up with more environmentally friendly things without losing the ease and efficiency of the products that the older generations created for us.

    • 17 January, 2012 at 17:39

      So, the question is “Do YOU care?” If you do, then do something about it. It may not have been right for parents to have raised their children the way you describe, but it is certainly no solution to blame them for the choices you consciously make. I’m a lot more than 35 years old and let me tell you some of us “DID” SOMETHING. Food buying clubs led to natural food coops led to Organics being available to at least some extent in every supermarket (including WalMart) chain in the U.S. or Canada. Modern day recycling began Earth Day 1970 in Portland, Oregon and led directly to the source-separated curb-side pick-up available in most (sadly not all) U.S. cities today. The point is “Somebody, somewhere, did something and enough others followed suit to see that the good idea from the margins marched inexorably to the center — proof that doing something good can change your community, if not the country or the world. Go for it, man — DO SOME THING!

  91. 14 January, 2012 at 15:45

    In this day and age if you let your kids walk or play alone, if you engage in ‘un sterile’ practices, if you use unsafe tools, like an open blade lawn mower, and you happen to get one of your kids to do the work you become a target for Children’s Aid….So just remember that when you reminisce.

    Like it or not, we didn’t have the extreme policing of parents ‘back in your day’.

  92. NikiBGD
    14 January, 2012 at 14:44

    I’m just 34, but back in my day bread was bought fresh in a bakery, not from a 24/7 hypermarket, precut, loaded with additives and wrapped in a branded plastic bag. In my day, pancakes and cookies came from mom’s kitchen, not a box. In my day, we played in parks that had maybe 3 or 4 streetlights around them if you wanted to shoot some hoops in the evening, not fully lit, pimped out shopping malls. And we didn’t have the green thing.

  93. yakladakh
    14 January, 2012 at 14:35

    Self-pitying balderdash! Not one single thing the young cashier said is deniable. And yes, before anyone asks: I don’t always take my own bags to the supermarket, but I know that that is just lazy idiocy, cause for apology because it is so utterly unnecessary – on no account something to get defensive over. You can’t defend the indefensible.

    • thenonhacker
      14 January, 2012 at 15:52

      LOL, it’s called “sarcasm” you idiot. 😀

      His point is, don’t be proud much about your Giant-brand of Green Bags, because the old generation is “greener” than this generation.

    • 14 January, 2012 at 23:16


      I appreciate the sentiment of this article. Indeed it is my generation (I’m 27) who seemingly depends on all this environmentally disruptive technology that he mentions. Sure.

      But who invented all this stuff? Was it us while we were children? Or was it them, trying to make a buck? Who made the ads to helps us all fall in love with this stuff? Them.

      If its so easy for the older generation to go back to living this way, then by all means, get rid of your car, technology, etc. etc. etc.

    • 15 January, 2012 at 02:57

      Yakladakh – The young cashier’s comment that: “Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations“ actually is “deniable” and is actually “defensible” as noted by many fine examples.

      However you are correct in saying there’s no reason to get defensive over someone else’s comments. The cashier spoke out of turn and made a general accusatory statement based on her assumptions vs facts, just as you have. So, people can and should be offended when they’re wrongly accused and furthermore, they should stand up for their character, rather than roll over just because others use words like “balderdash and indefensible” as if no one should challenge their swagger.

      • yakladakh
        15 January, 2012 at 16:08

        yeziam12 – if my generation had collectively cared or known to care enough about the environment, we might not be in quite as much of a mess as we are today. We still don’t, otherwise we wouldn’t have this little discussion. Whether or not the cashier spoke out of turn is another matter and of course it is not entirely sensible to condemn a whole generation, but that shouldn’t distract from the central point as I see it: we should be doing what we can to protect our environment, and we are so far failing in that obligation. Call that defensible?

      • 16 January, 2012 at 23:22

        As you say, ignorance is bliss and I believe we all need to do our part when a common problem is identified.

        It’s just that no one should be casting stones to prove they’re more pious than another, as did the Cashier. Otherwise, it just promotes useless rancor vs the action everyone seems to agree needs more attention.

  94. 14 January, 2012 at 13:58

    this is great! I do appreciate the best of both ‘worlds’ –
    old school values and new school technology …

  95. 14 January, 2012 at 13:49

    Right. back then you did not have disposable plastic bags, escalators and paper diapers and your impact on the environment was much smaller.
    not because you cared, but because you did not have the tools (plastic bags, escalators and paper diapers) to make such a large impact.

    now we do have the tools to harm. we cannot revert history and uninvent them. the only thing we can do is care

  96. 14 January, 2012 at 13:27

    Agree totally with this post. What we also didn’t have back then is smartarse kids who think they have a right to exist and who think they know everything about everything. We also didn’t have jobsworth health and safety nuts who drive up the price of everything by driving down the efficiency of it all. I give the human race a couple of centuries at best before 90% of them are wiped out because of the CURRENT generation’s stupidity, greed and ignorance.

    It used to be shameful if you got caught doing something wrong or illegal. These days it’s worn as a badge of pride. THAT is how far we’ve gone down the wrong road. Bad parenting, woolly-headed political correctness, ineffective and inappropriate education and a society that has, generally, given up. Something for nothing, that’s what they want – egged on by the cretinous X-Factor, Britain’s Got Talent and the mind-numbing soaps.

    Darwin was only half right in his theory of evolution. Current evidence points very strongly indeed to evolution working both ways. We’re on a back-swing right now.

    • thenonhacker
      14 January, 2012 at 15:55

      That grocery store clerk is too judgmental, making sweeping motherhood statements. Is that what happens when they watch Twilight Movies? LOL

  97. 14 January, 2012 at 13:21

    And how self-righteous we feel when we try to return to the old ways of doing things – cloth nappies (or none), walking to school or the shops, home-made fabric carrier bags…the things that were a given before their alternative was invented. Still, it feels good not to rely on a bulging, tentacular corporate machine which tries to convince us we would be helpless blobs without their products.

  98. slushpuppy
    14 January, 2012 at 13:10

    Um, according to the first paragraph, ‘she’s wasn’t the one saying we didn’t have the green thing.

    I hate the disposable razors (and pretty much throwaway everything) that we have, these days. Why are they SO much cheaper than getting the re-usable ones? Living an environmentally friendly lifestyle has been made so much more expensive in all the ways we would take for granted just 20-odd years ago.

    There are plenty of people still making the effort to live a more sustainable lifestyle, so why is it such a difficult and expensive
    thing to do?

    • 14 January, 2012 at 18:50

      The reason our society has been driven’ by consumerism is pure greed. Bankers run the show and easily bought politicians are being used as the tool to do this.

    • 17 January, 2012 at 17:42

      So, don’t shave — when you shave whose sense of aesthetics are you embracing? Consumerism, of course…

  99. 14 January, 2012 at 13:04

    As this could trend on facebook, please upload a better thumbnail!

    • thenonhacker
      14 January, 2012 at 15:59

      The TL;DR version of this article is:

      “Our generation is greener than your generation, so shut up and just do your job.”

  100. 14 January, 2012 at 12:35

    Good. Although the plastic bag thing is irrelevant – that’s something created by the retailers to make us feel ok about buying crap; bring your own bag, put a Tesco toaster and a Barbie in it – guilt gone.

  101. postcardtraveller
    14 January, 2012 at 10:38

    Whose ever fault it is, is irrelevant. It isn’t about blame. It’s done, we can’t change the past. Though the old days had their version of recycling, it wasn’t considered enough. As a human race, we placed more value on convenience, and ease of effort, and having these time saving devices. The result still is an impact to the environment. Whatever it is, we (all of us) now have to be responsible for it. That we can now put a name behind it, ie. “recycling”, means we can put some power behind the effort.

  102. 14 January, 2012 at 10:24

    I remember recycled paper to use as wrappers when ppl buy at the store. Old newspapers to wrap vegetables and fish…no plastics….but hey…what do we know 😛

    • 31 January, 2012 at 11:42

      Old newspapers!!!!! Aaaargh! Don’t you know that printer’s ink is horribly toxic? Well, that’s what H&S tells us.
      Wunch of bankers.

  103. kk68
    14 January, 2012 at 10:08

    That generation grew up and invented all those things to help the next generation. And that generation could do it because we used our noggins.

  104. andrewjpan
    14 January, 2012 at 08:03

    An interesting article…

  105. kangayayaroo
    14 January, 2012 at 07:45

    We didn’t have plastic shopping bags either. We used paper bags.

  106. 14 January, 2012 at 01:15

    yeah, but then that generation grew up and invented disposable diapers, plastic bottles, and gas fired lawnmowers to save themselves from the human powered toils of their day. to actually imply any of those things came from a generation under 35 is ridiculous, really.

    • fluidlyunsure
      14 January, 2012 at 11:37

      Yes, we invented things to make like better. Things like the sexual revolution, civil rights for ethnic minorities, and we started having healthier children. The only real negative thing we did was raise our children to raise arrogant and self-righteous children who want us dead. A whole generation shouldn’t be blamed for the stupidity of just one grocery bagger or the narrow mindedness of a whole crowd of the “newer” generation.

    • 14 January, 2012 at 12:49

      good point.

    • fluidlyunsure
      14 January, 2012 at 23:12

      @Katafox; No, he didn’t claim the younger generation invented these things. Are you able to read? He pointed out that the older generation didn’t use them even though we lived without the green movement breathing down our necks.

      We were told that glass bottles and paper bags weren’t environmentally since they didn’t decay well or were depleting our natural resource, and that plastic was better for the earth because it was so recyclable. We did thing that are called wrong today because acadamia told us the wrong things. By today’s terminology that means “they lied to us”.

      Even older generations cleaned up the air by switching from dirty coal to cleaner burning oil. Today’s measurements are finer so the solution chosen looks worse today than it did then, but it is still much better than before. We did improve mother nature. We do care.

      It would be nice if you could put things in context with why those actions were taken instead of mindlessly dribbling on the fingers you are pointing.

      Here’s a web-comic that says it well. I hope you can handle it.

  107. hevingen
    13 January, 2012 at 20:58

    Very well written!

  108. 13 January, 2012 at 15:55

    awesome post! haha 🙂

  1. 17 February, 2014 at 18:42
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  6. 26 March, 2012 at 06:16
  7. 21 January, 2012 at 21:53
  8. 18 January, 2012 at 23:12
  9. 18 January, 2012 at 22:25
  10. 17 January, 2012 at 06:49
  11. 16 January, 2012 at 16:29
  12. 16 January, 2012 at 02:43
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  14. 15 January, 2012 at 14:55
  15. 15 January, 2012 at 07:38
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  17. 15 January, 2012 at 01:03
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