Are you a practitioner or a complainer?

Once, during an interview to write for an eco-green series, the Producer asked me what is my stand on Eco-Green, and without a split-second of thinking, I told him, “I’m a practitioner.”

No, I’m not an eco-warrior nor I have perfect knowledge and parade in demonstrations for green peace. But I am a practitioner. I pledged to not use air-conditioner at home despite Malaysia’s humid weather. I rarely uses my car’s air-conditioner. Every 2-3 months, I go sell my recyclables. I don’t take a plastic bags for small/single item purchases at the store. I try my best. And I also recycle every single bit of writing paper I find at home because I am a writer, and I make hand-made notebooks.

Today, a family friend forwarded me this email and I am just caught by awe of how exactly I feel about the world right now. Please read and just reflect on your own contribution, which you can do within your means.

In the line at the store, the cashier told the older woman that she should bring her own grocery bag because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment.

The woman apologized to him and explained,
“We didn’t have the green thing back in my day.”

The clerk responded, “That’s our problem today.
The former generation did not care enough to save our environment.”

He was right. That generation didn’t have the green thing in its day. Back then, they returned their milk bottles,
soft drink bottles and beer bottles to the store.
The store sent them back to the plant to be washed
and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.

But they didn’t have the green thing back in that customer’s day.

In her day, they walked up stairs, because they didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. They walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine
every time they had to go two blocks.

But she was right. They didn’t have the green thing in her day.

Back then, they washed the baby’s nappies because they didn’t have the throw-away kind. They dried clothes on a line,
not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts –
wind and solar power really did dry the clothes.
Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters,
not always brand-new clothing.

But that old lady is right, they didn’t have the green thing back in her day.

Back then, they 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, not a screen the size of the state of Montana.
In the kitchen, they blended and stirred by hand because
they didn’t have electric machines to do everything for you.
When they packaged a fragile item to send in the mail,
they used a wadded up old newspaper to cushion it,
not styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

Back then, they didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline
just to cut the lawn. They used a push mower that ran on human power. They exercised by working so they didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she’s right, they didn’t have the green thing back then.

They drank from a fountain when they were thirsty
instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time
they had a drink of water. They refilled their writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and they replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

But they didn’t have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the tram or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their mums into a 24-hour taxi service. They had one electrical outlet in a room,
not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances.
And they 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 the old folks were just because they didn’t have the green thing back then! WOW!

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