Going Green – The Unquestionable Way of Life Back ‘Then’
After a shopping spree recently, I was surprised by the cashiers request for rupees five a bag to carry my shopping home! That too for a non-environment friendly plastic one at that. While grocery shopping in the United States, I got a deduction of six cents per bag for the six bags I carried…a whopping 36 cents (Rs.22.93).
What a subtle approach to ‘go green!’ Norms Then’ were minimal use of machines, fuel and electricity. Children walked to school, bus services were scant, escalators were not in vogue, elevators a luxury, and people simply used their lower limbs for commuting. Now, with our so called progress we pay huge amounts, to walk on treadmills in air-conditioned rooms.
Coming to the mantra ‘recycle and reuse,’ India has been on top of it forever! As children, we bartered used toothpaste tubes, scraps of metal, soda bottle lids, bits and pieces of wire with the chana wala for delicious roasted chana. Not only was it recycling at its best, it was also healthy snacking.
Nappies and sanitary towels were washed and used in our days. Agreed, it was a mucky task, but ¡t was a designated job for a livelihood. No energy guzzling washing machines or coin laundries to simplify the task. Come to think of it, the squish and squeeze motion was great for the forearms, wrist and fingers. We now pay for a demonstration of this technique in the exercise class! Same with kneading, mixing and grinding – blenders and grinders lap up electricity, whereas back then, ladies doing this had strong arms and a great physique.
Mowing a lawn was excellent for arms and legs, no wasting precious gasoline or electricity to cut grass. The same can be said for tilling, but now tractors are the norm in rural farming as well. We readily adopt all systems which encourage us to be lazy which turns out to be the hallmark of the millennium! Not only physically, but mentally as well..mental math is replaced by calculators, reading by watching television and so on.
Newspapers were prized for their versatility of use. Fermented with fenugreek (methi) seed it made a smooth antiseptic cover for woven baskets, stuffed in old shoes it kept away insects, fragile items were packed in layers of newspapers. They were also good to clean glass and mirrors, until Windex’ made it to the market shelves.
The throwaway ball pens replaced the sentimental attachment to fountain pens. Plastics have invaded our pantries, use and throw cups, glasses, plates and bowls make life simpler, but imagine the deforestation.
Lastly there is a price for human intervention, no longer the friendly smile and chat for directions, the GPS reigns supreme. You book a taxi by telephone you pay rupees 25 extra than if you book it online. Similarly, now it’s the ATM, no more interacting with friendly bank tellers. Recycling or ‘going green’ was an unquestionable way of life, now it is being promoted as the way to go!