IT’S NO SURPRISE the world is changing in this era of social media. There’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google and Apple. There is a striking disconnect from generation to generation. Here’s an example of “The Green Thing.”

In the grocery store checkout line, before the pandemic, the young cashier told an older woman, who was a very young 70, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags aren’t good for the environment.

The woman apologized to her and explained “We didn’t have the green thing in my day.” The clerk responded “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our planet. It’s now a crisis.”

She was right. Our generation didn’t have the green thing in its day. Back then, we returned milk, soda and beer bottles to the store. There weren’t any plastic bottles. The store sent them back to be washed, sterilized and reused. So they really were recycled.

Before continuing with this well-known essay, author Randy Florke takes us back to thinking frugally like our grandparents and great-grandparents. Being frugal is ingrained in my bones, just ask people who know me. I make no excuses.

In their day “the biggest sin was waste and hand-me-downs were a way of life. Nowadays, they call that repurposing. Back then, we called it another day on the farm.”

There needs to be a balance between using what we have and living with less. Going green by repurposing means helping the environment. Now, back to the essay.

We also walked up stairs because we didn’t have escalators in every building. We often walked to the grocery store. We didn’t drive our vehicles every time we had to go two blocks. But she was right, we didn’t have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line when we could, not in an energy-gobbling machine. Wind and solar power dried the clothes.

Children got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers and sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that young lady was right, we didn’t have the green thing back in our day. We had one TV or radio in the house, not a giant TV in every room hooked up to a satellite or cable system.

In the kitchen, we blended and stirred most everything because we didn’t have an electric mixer. We didn’t have prepacked dinners and a microwave oven. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used a wadded up old newspaper to cushion it.

Speaking of the post office, I can remember when those jobs were reserved for members of the military; when their days of service were completed. Today, those heroes have a very high rate of unemployment.

Back in the day, we had push lawn mowers, but very few riding mowers. Unless you lived on a farm, you didn’t have one-acre lawns to mow. As a result, we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills powered by electricity.

We drank water from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or plastic bottle. I saw a statistic the other day. We humans use enough plastic bottles each year that if they were lined up end-to-end, they would stretch to the moon and back several times. The oceans are contaminated with plastic waste products.

Years ago, people in the cities took the streetcar or a bus and children rode their bikes to school. Today, parents have become a 24-hour taxi service. No wonder children are obese and have health problems.

Our small house had one, maybe two, electrical outlets in a room; not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. We didn’t have computerized gadgets to receive a signal beamed from satellites 200 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

But isn’t it sad the current generation laments and shames us for how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn’t have the green thing back then.