The Green Thing…

Tom Lund, a very special and dear friend, forwarded an interesting chain-email titled the “Green Thing”, that I found to be noteworthy of the need for us all to have “perspective”, whilst considering how to simplify our lives. So, without further ado, here it is (source unknown) with some minor editing for this blog.

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

The woman apologized 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.”

Grocery Store #1

A Grocery Store - THEN...

She was right; older generations didn’t have “the green thing” back in their day.

Back then, they returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store which sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so they could use the same bottles over and over in a more genuine recycling manner.

Then, people 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.

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

Then, there was only one TV, or radio in a house not a device in every room…. and such TV had a small screen perhaps the size of a handkerchief, not a screen the size of the state of Rhode Island. In the kitchen, they blended and stirred by hand because they didn’t have electric machines to do everything for them. They packaged a fragile item to send in the mail by using wadded up old newspapers 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… instead, 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 operated by electricity.

Example of an American grocery store aisle.
…and NOW.

Then, they drank from fountains when they were thirsty instead of using cups or plastic bottles, they refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying new ones, and replaced the blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because it got dull.

Back then, people took the streetcar or the bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. They had a couple electrical outlets in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power dozens of 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.

Still, the current generation laments how wasteful old folks were just because they didn’t have the “green thing” back then…

Whilst it is true that many a selfish old person could use a lesson in conservation from a “smart” young one, it would be wise to have some perspective and keep in-mind that old folk – whom typically don’t like being “old” in the first place – may get pissed-off easily.

Well done Tom… thank you for sharing.

the basis of “sustainable” actions

Is it possible to develop a business model that is sustainable? (1)

Yes, I believe it is possible to do so but I propose that, like children, there is need (and benefit) to experiment and try standing-up and taking a few steps here and there, before we can truly be comfortable (and adept) at developing sustainable business models or anything else for that matter.

For sustainability to not just be a “cool” word that we say and append to our sentences, it must be better understood and practiced at an individual level before we venture on to a bigger stage with half-convicted scripts.

Do we ourselves think, act and live sustainably?

The notion of “zero negative impact” – the basis of “sustainable” actions – whether toward the environment or toward ourselves and each other, is powerful, often misunderstood and harder to achieve than it appears. Nevertheless, it is a worthwhile goal to reach toward…as when a small pebble hits the very still water surface thus creating ever widening ripples, so will we do so if…

We start with ourselves; understanding and changing what isn’t “sustainable” about our individual thinking and actions and thus, influencing others by our examples. In turn, some will react to this “newness” in an equally unexpected manner thus, influencing conditions and events at a greater scale than would be otherwise possible. And so on…until a tipping point is reached powerful enough to change status-quo at a macro level.

Graph showing Human Development Index and Ecol...

Image via Wikipedia

I know of few things “sustainable” that have been achieved effectively through well-meaning singular programs and protocols. Even if positive and successful at-first, in time these types of small fledging efforts tend to them-selves be impacted (and changed) by others or by business “fads du-jour”.

Unless there is a strong foundation and the momentum that can only be obtained by the power of many thinking & acting in an “instinctive” like-manner – a.k.a. “swarm intelligence”(2) – the influence that creating a stand-alone “sustainable business model” can have, albeit important, will not by itself be that impactful.

(1) Raised by Ana Cristina on a TED discussion
(2) Term from Kevin Kelly’s book “Out-of-Control

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