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Generations Differ in Views on Going Green

July 15, 2008

My Mom and I were talking about recycling a few days ago. I was trying to convince her that it is very easy to sort recyclables from the stuff that goes to the curb, blah, blah, blah- my usual tirade of how simple it is to do something for the environment. She does not relish the notion of ‘washing her garbage’, nor paying an extra fee to have it picked up from her curb. To me, it seems going green may appear too  troublesome to bother with (for her).

A self proclaimed ‘heat-packing, fur-wearing Texas Republican’ had a very good point to make- there is a big difference in how our Baby Boomer parents view environmental issues and how our thirty-ish generation is starting to take it seriously. (She thinks I can make up for her giant carbon footprint…) I have tried to think about what my parents have grown up with. They were the first generation to grow up with the TV dinner. The computer. The microwave. Everything our generation takes for granted about convenience, they grew with or invented. They taught us to make things faster, smaller, and more powerful (these have become extremely valuable, and in some cases, it can be considered green). Changing your lifestyle in your mid-fifties is not easy, I would imagine, especially for those who live life with a strong notion for ease and convenience.

How do we make this more user-friendly, specifically for our parents’ generation?  ‘Green’ is an entire lifestyle change, and there is nothing simple about that. For the average American, it is a slow evolution and it takes time. It can touch every aspect of our lives, from garbage to furniture to nail polish. There is no simple answer to this question.

So I think I won’t worry too much about trying to make my parents green. Their generation has given us so many fantastic things that we really couldn’t live without. (Come on- you know you would freak out if you couldn’t use your cell phone for one day!) Just like every new generation, we take what our parents give us, try to make it a little bit better, and pass that knowledge on to our children. I’ll take what I know and try to be responsible with it. If green is something that really will be as mainstream as many say it will, it will take time to get it there.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. wildkitty permalink
    July 20, 2008 11:19 pm

    I’m 50, so I’m in your mom’s generation, and I know I really never gave it an awful lot of thought till just recently. I kind of subconsciously did a small part all along – always asking for paper rather than plastic – with nary a clue really why… but I guess it really hit home for me once I began to have grandchildren. I looked at that sweet little trusting face and knew I had to do my part in a much larger way to try to leave him and his sister a better ecological inheritance. It’s almost an obsession with me now.

  2. the lovely christina permalink
    July 26, 2008 2:27 am

    They charge you down there !!!?!

    Oh no no no non no no!

    Let me tell you how they do it up here and in other places around the country. Philadelphia makes money from our recycling. Yes, that is right. They don’t charge us. They make money. We have single stream recycling here, and the city sells what they collect and make money. They make enough money to pay someone to sort through the plastics I put in the there every other week, and make sure it is the type they can use. I’m afraid you just gave me another reason not to move back to Texas. It is too bad. I would like to come back, but there is no reason in this day in age to find recycling complicated. My 70 year old neighbor on the right does it, and I have to beat down my 60 year old neighbor on the left for our shared recycling bins every other week. We all do it here.

    There is money to be made on scrap in this economy. It is sad to say after this great century we have had, but it is not changing any time soon.

  3. greenanthropology permalink*
    July 26, 2008 11:04 am

    I’m not sure if they charge in all parts of the city, but in her neighborhood, I believe it is $4 more per month. It never made sense to me, either. I’m sure there is a small fortune to be made from our two households alone- I suck down quite a bit of SlimFast, and they drink Diet Coke just as much. Welcome to Texas: Bigger, Better, Badder.

    On a side note, I am getting ready to start doing my research on getting curbside started in my own neighborhood. We have to have at least 25% participation to keep the program going. Guess I’ll make like Avon and knock on some doors!

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