When green was just a color

My dad sent me a funny email the other day about a woman who apologizes for not knowing that plastic bags are bad for the environment because “we didn’t have the green thing back in my day.” As it turns out, they did have the green thing, it just didn’t have a trendy name. It’s about a time when doing the green thing was not something you bragged about, it was simply the way people lived. It’s about a time when people did the green thing not because it was the in thing,  but because they were frugal and used common sense. True, there were fewer choices back then, but people also lived within their means.

Even though I am not “as old as dirt” as the email states, I do recall a time when green was just a color and things were a lot less complicated. As a child I can remember never having a choice between paper and plastic, milk bottles that the milkman delivered full and picked up empty,  cloth diapers for my baby brother, a single television in the house, and not a single health club in my town. I remember when bottled water was a novelty and riding an escalator at the shopping mall in Omaha was as exciting as going to a theme park. Of course, I’d never been to a theme park. We didn’t go on vacation, we went camping.

Technology has changed a lot since I was kid. I do remember life before computers. My grandfather owned a typewriter. When my grandson saw it he acted as though he had discovered a lost enigma machine. They don’t even have typing class in high school anymore. They call it keyboarding and it starts in grade school.  We learned cursive handwriting. Remember taking a picture with your camera and having to wait three weeks to see how it turned out? Or how about when televisions were pieces of furniture? I remember. I also remember when television was free. Of course we only had three stations and a big metal tree on the roof called an antenna. I even remember UHF. You don’t? Well, let’s just call it cable and move on. I remember the birth of children’s programming. I was there. It was called Sesame Street and it taught children the importance of learning to read, how to count, and the difference between near and far. It also placed emphasis on being honest and doing the right thing; messages that are hard to come by in children’s programming these days.  Finally, I remember life before PlayStation. We played outside. We rode bikes, climbed trees, and made forts. We got stung by bees, eaten alive by mosquitoes and we never wore shoes in the summer.

Yes, things have changed a lot since I was a little girl. Maybe I am as old as dirt.  Or maybe, I was just raised to live within my means and to know the difference between needs and wants. I am proud to say that I passed these lessons on to my daughter. She turned 25 last month and like me, she grew up on Sesame Street and Dr. Suess. She never had a television in her room because we only owned one. She never got hooked on hand held games because I never bought them. Instead, she read books before going to bed.  She played with dolls, put puzzles together, and used crayons to draw pictures.  When we went on vacation, we went camping. She had second hand toys and wore second hand clothes. Not because we couldn’t afford new, but because they were still good. She didn’t have a cell phone until she went to college. How on earth did we communicate? When she was little, we called out for her to shake a tree…because she was always in the woods building forts and using her imagination. When she was in high school, we spent time together. We had conversations. We still do.

I am confident that my daughter’s children will also remember life before “the green thing”  because she will raise them the way she was raised. They too will learn to make the best out of what they have and what they can afford. She will raise them to be excited about escalators, barefoot summers, Sesame Street, and using your imagination. She will teach them that living a life less complicated doesn’t mean you are poor or deprived or even noble. It simply means that you make common sense choices and that sometimes green is just a color.


About Susan Warren Utley

Susan Warren Utley is a wife and mother living and writing in the shadows of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Her stories are inspired by the unexpected twists and turns of real life and by her muse, a feisty Jack Russell Terrier who occasionally answers to the name of Lucy. View all posts by Susan Warren Utley

137 responses to “When green was just a color

  • Flash Fiction Friday « Georgette Sullins's Blog

    […] first caught my attention with her FP article “When Green Was Just a Color.”  I loved it from start to finish identifying with every word, her every sentence…and, her […]

  • Debashrita Panda

    I adore your writing, but I can’t imagine my life without Internet!!!!!!!!

  • ทัวร์สิงคโปร์,ทัวร์ยุโรป,ทัวร์ฮาร์บิน,ทัวร์พม่า

    Loved your post. It reminded of the olden days when I was younger. Thanks for the memories. Visit my daily green blog if you care to, dansolar.wordpress.com.

  • ทัวร์ฮ่องกง,ทัวร์ปักกิ่ง,ทัวร์เวียดนาม,

    I live on the Shenandoah River so that song is one of my personal favorites. I’ve pasted your comment in my writing journal as inspiration and I will most certainly check out your book. Take care and God bless.

  • thalassa

    Fantastic post! I’m only a few years older that your daughter, and (though I grew up “in town”) I had much the upbringing–Sesame Street, exploring the outdoors, reading (ZOMG! books!), etc. I too have seen that email, and I can honestly say that alot of the “green” thing, I’ve pieced together by asking my grandmother (and great-grandmother) “How did YOU do it?”. But…I have to say that the internet can be a great resource when someone doesn’t have the in-person resource–everything from cooking from scratch to knitting and crochet and more, and even for those that do, the sharing of such ideas has resulted in some awesome improvements (modern cloth diapers for one).

  • It’s His Nature | Tuesday2's Blog

    […]  Click here to believe.  May it always be so. […]

  • panfilocastaldi

    Hi Susan, thank you for your interesting and thought-provoking article. We just posted a response to it here.

  • When green was just a colour | Panfilocastaldi

    […] Warren Utley, on her Creative Procrastination blog, wrote this interesting and insightful post on the transformation of environmental sustainability in the daily […]

  • williams

    i wish our daughter’s have a good future, espicially on green world. 🙂 thanks for share it.

  • toyota

    Beautiful sentiment…I had to laugh a few months ago when my 8-year-old saw a typewriter for the first time.

  • Pooja Lodaya

    I, also, grew up without a computer, cell phone, ipod, Play Station or Wii. They didn’t even exist when I was a kid or even a teenager! The gadgets just come with human and technological evolution. I am willing and happy to embrace it. A lot of growing up to be happy and contented individuals comes from loving yourself. And that comes from positive experiences in nurturing homes, a good education (and I don’t just mean degrees from fancy Universities), and unconditional love from significant people in our lives- parents, siblings, friends, children, partners, spouses, pets! It comes from having goals and aspirations (beyond qualifications, jobs, or an income) but never forgetting to acknowledge and appreciate who you are and where you come from. Some of that is how we’re raised, some of it is how we evolve on our individual journeys as adults.

    I don’t yet have children. But whenever I do, I hope I can give them all of that. No doubt there might be some parenting mistakes I might make, but I hope that I will be able to teach my kids, by example, what it means to find happiness in the simple things, and real joy in a “virtual” world.

    • Susan Warren Utley

      Thanks so much for stopping by. You make some excellent points and I can relate to much of what you say in regards to loving yourself and providing unconditional love to your children. While I do enjoy the virtual world and quite often I have experiences that make me happy, I can’t say it has provided me with real joy and true happiness. My goal is to encourage my family to find real joy in the real world and take the virtual world for what it is…virtual. But that is another post for another day. Of course my way is not necessarily the only way to live and raise a family…just one way. Good luck to you. I am sure you will do a wonderful job once you get there.

      • Pooja Lodaya

        Oh no! My comment clearly came out wrong! I agree with you a 100%- real joy is only achievable in the real world. What I was trying to say (evidently unsuccessfully!) was that I hope to help my kids find real joy in a world that comprises real people, real experiences, and real love. All of this, in a world that seems to be turning “virtual”. I apologize for what, admittedly, came off as a demurring comment. I, however, appreciate your graceful response. Much love.

        • Susan Warren Utley

          No apologies necessary! One of my husband’s favorite comments when we have a disagreement is, “We’ll just have to agree to disagree.” What I found with a few comments from readers regarding this topic is that while they may sound as though they are presenting an opposing view, I often walk away thinking, “We’ll just have to agree to agree!” This was the case when I read your comment. Honestly, it is just so exciting for me to have written a post that has elicited such thought provoking comments from readers, yours included. When I respond I always try to remind myself that even though we are communicating in a virtual world, somewhere, whether it is down the block or a half a world away, there is a real person with real feelings who took the time to read what I had to say. So what you might perceive as graceful is simple respect for your opinion and you as a human being. I guess that is just one way I try to keep tuned in. Wonderful post by the way! I subscribed to your blog and look forward to reading more. Have a great day!

          • Pooja Lodaya

            I am touched by your perspective, and how you live by it. It is always good to keep in mind that our words, like our actions, have strength. And that we must use them responsibly. From Spiderman, “With great strength comes great responsibility.”! Thanks for subscribing to my blog; have yourself a beautiful day! Much love.

  • leeyokum

    Awesome post and I too remember when green was just a color

  • Renée A. Schuls-Jacobson

    This is beautiful. Like you, I have done all these same things with my son – except one. when he turned 11, we caved and let him buy an iPod Touch. How I wish we didn’t. Even with the restrictions on how much he can use it (weekend and long trips), he still craves it. It;s all the kids talk about. “Apps” this and “apps” that.

    You sound so hopeful that your daughter – now 25 – will raise her children , your grandbabies – in the same way she was raised. I have done well by my son, but this technology stuff is a hard nut to crack. I got my first cell phone at 32 years old. Now kids have them in elementary school. Why are we doing this to our children? I’d rather have my son get stung by a bee while riding his bike with a friend than sit alone on the couch playing “Angry Birds.”

    SO glad to have found you.

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed.

    Come visit me at Lessons From Teachers and Twits. I’m the Chief Twit in Residence. 😉 I’d like to give you a plug as my “Friday Fabulous Find” of the Week. I’ll do that later today. You’ll get the pingback.


    • Susan Warren Utley

      Thanks so much. I am so pleased to have been Freshly Pressed because it has given me an opportunity to meet a lot of great people and explore some pretty fantastic blogs…like yours! I am looking forward to reading more. Cheers!

  • billiejowood

    I really enjoyed the post as I find the simple joys (green living) are the best and hold the best memories. Thanks for reminding us that the ‘green’ thing is ‘in.’

  • savannahrenee

    Sounds like you raised your daughter pretty well; she sounds like a fairly well rounded young lady 😉

    Thanks for raising me to be so technologically savvy, Mom… I can’t even figure out how to “like” your post.

  • kinkinthemachine

    Congratulations on making it to Freshly Pressed! I’m younger than your daughter and grew up entertaining myself with books and playing outside. I find it sad too that my youngest brother–12 years younger–spends his summer break in front of a game console and computer. And he hasn’t finished a Harry Potter book yet. 😦 And I miss Sesame Street too!

  • whatsaysyou

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed and your post raised many good points. I am 27 going 28 this year and I can tell you that being a kid in the 80s and 90s was a wonderful time. I was not just allowed to be a kid but also I didn’t get a cell phone until I was 18. Yes, I grew up on Sesame Street which have lots of education and values emphasis which kids’ shows nowadays to me are missing out. Thanks for sharing

  • gingerclub

    My English blog: http://www.beatbloodpressure.wordpress.com

    Hi Susan,

    Congratulation to your post and being selected by WP.
    Blue Ridge Mountains must be inspiring for writers.

    I am glad that you reminded us of the old days where people were content with little and had more contact with nature. Whether it has to do with the colour “green” I am not sure. Back then we had fridges which sucked up 100 times more energy than the ones today, the paints used in households were toxic and there were no emission regulations whatsoever.
    Yet, I also feel with the same experience you have, that life was simpler, more nature oriented and more people oriented than today. Also, the music was definitely better, more soul, more experiment, more human.

    Peace and smiles


  • Bookwyrm

    I love this post; it reminds me of home. We live in the same area, it seems, so maybe I’ll see you out hiking. Finish one of those novels!

  • mcbarlow5

    Great post! I was just telling my son, niece and nephew this week how much more fun I think things were when we were kids. We rode bikes and rollerskated instead of playing video games (except for Pac Man at the Dairy Queen)!

  • jessiethought

    This is a really great post. I like your style of writing. A bit of humor, but serious. We only have one TV, and the only thing it is used for usually is watching basketball in basketball season and (only occasionally) a movie. We go to the library at least once a week, and get at least twelve books every time.
    We are crazy readers. 🙂
    Sadly, usually no one goes barefoot. Sometimes, though.

  • creativeconfessions

    I enjoyed reading this. I appreciate what you have to say. Very nice. 🙂

  • mytreetv

    Hello! If you want to see a green page! Where green is more than a color you can go to http://www.MyTree.Tv
    See you and keep it green!

  • NorisDesign

    I really liked reading this. very good points were raised. I feel that within design sustainability is no longer something that is an afterthought, added on or used to sell products. Its a big part and interwoven throughout the whole design process. It appeals to people if the product is green but very few companies use as a selling point. Green design is expected and has been for a while. Great article!

  • Roda

    Hi Susan,
    One of my favourite songs growing up was “Almost heaven, west virginia, blue ridge mountains shanandoah river, life is…”. I am a writer too, have authored one book so far on the Law of Attraction titled MasterMind. I am working on two presently and can’t seem to make up my mind what genre to do next. I love children so I was toying with the idea of focussing my attention on that age for I do believe that as a writer we have the power of influence over our readers and that’s something worth aspiring to.
    Just a suggestion if you understand how LOA works…that what we focus on comes to pass…can be used quite effectively to eliminate or reduce plastic usage too. Besides when God created the earth he used energy and matter, both of which can never be destroyed .. they simply keep changing form. Its better to leave the worrying over earth to its creator and most competent authority namely God. If ever there is a shortage of anything required on this earth for the benefit of man…you can be sure that God has already thought of it and it is already there.It is important to know and understand that every human being has a bit of God in him and that God lives and loves through man his most precious creation.

    • Susan Warren Utley

      I live on the Shenandoah River so that song is one of my personal favorites. I’ve pasted your comment in my writing journal as inspiration and I will most certainly check out your book. Take care and God bless.

  • signorasabatini

    Creative procrastination. I like your writing.

  • cassieee90

    First of all, this post is something we need to see more of. Too many people see being “green” more of a chore than our duty to the world. We owe it to our planet, if only this at the least. The attitude of Man needs to change immediately, before we find that the death of our precious life-source is closer than we first thought. It is time for Man to “man-up”.

  • Niki Fulton

    Ditto to many of your values. My kids brought up on Dr.Seuss too…”Oh, the Places You shall go” and many other lovely books. I know it works too, they are fab boys.

  • Patti Ross

    Great post–and congrats on being FPed. I too saw the funny email that started your musings on this subject. Being almost as old as dirt myself, I had a childhood much like yours and wish people today would just slow down and not get lost in all the choices that technology seems to give. Around Earth Day, I mused about Green in a couple posts. It is nice to read something that shares the same sensibilities!

  • Rashmi...

    This post is simply awesome…I am a 25 yrs old girl and even I feel things have changed a great deal since I was a kid. But yes, I simply love the idea of living a less complicated life, within our means. Our parents taught us this way of life and it’s our duty to pass it on further so that future generations can also have a exciting yet simple life.

  • makingup3000

    Seriously, how can you not know that plastic bags are bad for the environment. That’s just plain stupidity or ignorance or both. It reminds me of this customer who came to the makeup counter and told me “Oh we don’t recycle, we’re Republican”. I was like “What? Since when does it matter what political party you are…it’s a global issue”. I can only imagine what the look on my face was which is always a little hard to hide.

  • Jennifer Avventura

    Typing class! We had that in my high school. I still follow those rules. My 13yr old step-daughter who is a whiz with texting asked me how I could type so fast, (as she’s a one finger typer on the keyboard) I told her I took a class and there is an art to typing.
    Great post. Congrats on Freshly Pressed.

  • rtcrita

    I love this post! I can recall all those things you spoke of when growing up. Living within our means is something my mother preached the whole time we were growing up. It’s totally possible to do it and still have a wonderfull, rich and fullfilling life.
    Common sense seems to be in short supply these days. I have tried hard to raise my kids just as you have, so that they can see what is really important in life and what really matters.
    Congratulations to you for how you raised your daughter! You’ve given her the possibility of a wonderful future.

    • Susan Warren Utley

      Thank you! With the recent change in my employment situation there is going to be whole lot more “living within my means” going on in my household. I just went to PetCo and purchased twenty goldfish for $3.00 and released them in our pond. Two hours of entertainment at one third the price of going to a movie! **Now my 25 year old is going to whine that I released fish without her.** Have a great day!

  • fox loves angel

    Funny post! For myself, green is my favorite color. We must do something to protect our world. Hope everything will go well. Thank you for sharing!

  • fortvermoger

    Interesting post that I found on FP today. It is a great post.

  • Angeline M

    Being old as dirt myself, I started watching Sesame Street while I was pregnant with my first child…so reading your post just now I can’t help but hum Kermit’s “It’s not easy being green”.

  • tuckle

    I loved this article! I remember UHF, but in my family, that was the “don’t touch that!” button.

  • CarsOfficial

    Very interesting subject! Congrats on being Fress pressed!


  • lisa

    First of all you do not look old enough to be a grandmother, never mind old as dirt. Holy smoke! The “green thing” must be working 4 u.

    Anyway. The wonderful irony of the Green campaign is that there is no such colour as green. There are no colours at all (I bet u know this). We only have 3 light wave spectrums in our brains that combine to make us think we can see colour but we can’t. Our brains tell us that grass is supposed to be green and the sky is black at night but that isn’t true. These objects don’t have color but they reflect in our brains as giving color. These are colorless objects. Freaky isn’t it?
    check this site if you’re interested
    http://physics.info/color/ its the physics of colour

  • soaringdragons

    The concept and “strategies” of being “green” will certainly increase in coming years. Good post, great writing. It’s amazing how many really good writers are at WordPress. Cheers!

  • thesearchfor

    Nice read..we were forced to play outdoors and not be idle watching the tube..it was so much fun then to ride bikes, play with a dozen neighbors and use anything of ‘sticks, stones and dirt’ as playthings…as you said it was the green thing..regards

  • Life As I Live It

    This is amazing…realistic and simple and enjoyed reading it. Shows that human experiences are similar regardless of race, colour or creed.
    Keep em coming!

  • dansolar

    Loved your post. It reminded of the olden days when I was younger. Thanks for the memories. Visit my daily green blog if you care to, dansolar.wordpress.com.

  • C.B. Wentworth

    I may be part of the technology age, but your piece made me wish we could go back to when things were a bit simpler. I’m not so sure its a good thing that we can do multiple tasks in half the time or that everything revolves around a cell phone. We are overstimulated these days and it gets in the way of enjoying so many little things.

    Great writing, too! 🙂

  • georgettesullins

    This is so beautifully written in one concise article. I tried to capture similar thoughts, however across several articles…a series on frugality in April, “Uncle George” in October, another series in December. Hmmmm…you give me a lot to think about regarding pulling the thread tighter. Thank you and congratulations on appearing in FP today!

  • cprfordepressives

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! Great writing, which I really appreciate. I suspect we’re around the same age. Yes, I remember UHF, and wishing I had a really long pole with a clasp on the end that could change the TV channel when I was sick and had to stay at home in bed. I also had an Olympia electric typewriter in college that I used to type my papers. Word processing via the Mac became big right after I graduated.

    I subscribed to your blog; keep up the good work!

  • criticalblogger

    Great post and a subject close to my heart.

    Why do we all live like hectic, stressed out, psychotic worker bees when we would all be so much happier if we slowed down a bit, returned to common sense lifestyles and valued sanity, fun, love and *contentment* more?

    I think the answer, weirdly, is not that we have opted for this lifestyle at all – I think the answer is that we have all not dare to realize we can (and perhaps should) opt out of it.

    You see insanity is now the default option for the world (in case you all haven’t noticed!). And so it is like those forms where you have to tick the box NOT to receive junk mail forever more and have all of your information passed on to 3rd parties.

    We have to deliberately tick the box NOT to live lives of stress, ill health, consumer emptiness, neurosis, self loathing, isolation and fear. And we have to tick the box not to destroy the planet. And we have to tick that box every day, with every decision we make and every interaction we have.

    There is this thing called corporatism. Some call it corporate fascism (which is probably more accurate but sounds a bit too scary). All it means is that everything in our lives is orientated towards generating profits at the expense of humanity. There’s nothing wrong with making a profit – it’s the ‘at the expense of humanity’ bit which is the problem!

    Corporatism today turns the media into dumbed down mass distraction, the Arts into dumbed down mass entertainments, governments into bought and paid for puppets on strings, endlessly repeating meaningless slogans and covering up for corruption with lies, lies and more lies. Corporatism turns food into junk, the environment into a polluted wasteland, our minds to sludge and whole populations into stressed out debt slaves, scrabbling for survival and swinging helplessly between a state of fear and denial. In short, corporatism is really, REALLy unhelpful!

    But this isn’t a rant against corporations!

    They can’t help it! They are designed to make money at the expense of human’s well being and so that is what they do. They are just like machines. You wouldn’t dream of getting angry with a lawnmower would you?! …. But nor would you lie down in the path of one either!

    So the answer is to not get angry with corporatism but simply not have anything to do with it. Or at least have very little to do with them. They only exist and grow if we feed them with our money, our trust and our attention.

    If this new century is teaching us anything it is that you can’t feed monsters and then expect there to be no monsters.

    And so everything wrong in the world is ultimately our fault, our responsibility and so completely within our power to change.

    You just have to keep ticking that box! 🙂

    As the saying goes:

    ‘It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult’

    Your special 10 step opt out evaluation guide! Compiled with love x 🙂

    Tick here to opt out part 1
    Tick here to opt out part 2
    Tick here to opt out part 3
    Tick here to opt out part 4
    Tick here to opt out part 5
    Tick here to opt out part 6
    Tick here to opt out part 7
    Tick here to opt out part 8
    Tick here to opt out part 9
    Tick here to opt out part 10

  • evajoy

    I think people are too obsessed with saving the planet these days. Don’t get me wrong, I love this planet and I’m not against recycling, but when people get fanatical about it – I draw the line. I agree that in the “old” days people did live cleaner and better.

    • modestypress

      Evajoy, I hope you will forgive/tolerate this reply comment.

      1) “Saving the planet” is to my mind a silly slogan. People who use it really mean, “Save the humans.” Humans are destructive, but the planet and the rats and starlings and cockroaches (and “nicer” animals) will still be around after we eradicate ourselves.

      2) To a considerable extent, romanticizing the “old days” of people living cleaner and better is not very sensible (in my opinion). In America, in the “good old days,” we kept slaves and drove Indians off their land; cut down the forests and eradicated the buffalo and the passenger pigeon; the streets of the cities (before nasty automobiles) were filled with horse sh*t (and most people did not have indoor plumbing for that matter). The wonderful life of Laura Ingalls and her family is to a considerable degree a myth consciously created by the editing of her daughter who edited the books. Oh, well, without myths, what would we do? Some day our children will speak of our time as the “good old days,” when people still had oil and a semblance of civilization. Just wanted to cheer you up.

      [Susan, you have my permission to delete this comment if it rains on the parade of praise for your blog–which is a fine one–too much.]

  • Alive aLwaYs

    There is a great saying – “A person who can stay happy with little, can never be sad ever”. You hold true to that belief, I admire it, I really do.

  • Eva McCane

    i kinda miss just “green”. grass green, olive green, seaweed green, mint green, neon green…

  • Jenna

    I really enjoy your blog. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with the world.

  • Sara (sarasexpletives)

    I was fortunate enough to have been raised in the “real world” as opposed to the “virtual world” as well. Good for you for making the effort with your daughter. I think it’s invaluable, because no matter how advanced technology becomes we still have to know how to, and enjoy, interacting with people.

    I seem to notice that “older than dirt” people either don’t know about the green thing, or say “I’ve been doing the green thing since before you were born!” 🙂

  • GreenLif3

    I love your blog! My whole blog site is about green!!I always say, You can’t be green by doing stuff for the environment, you are green by changing your lifestyle and learning the better ways for the earth and you.

  • NouveauSoileau

    This was lovely. I especially like “She had second hand toys and wore second hand clothes. Not because we couldn’t afford new, but because they were still good.”

    There are reasons for doing things. The default position should not be to buy things because that’s what everyone else does.

  • BigLittleWolf

    Hmmm. Seems to me I still have a selectric typewriter around ye olde homestead somewhere. And I bet it still works.

    You’re quite right. We used to have green without naming it as such. Now, we paint our lawns with green paint, rather than conserving natural resources…

    Lovely post. Lovely blog.

  • fallingcomet

    I’m soon to be 18 years old and I wholeheartedly agree with your post. I grew up without cable, without a cell phone and without all the fads – gameboys and the like. I believe that it made me a better person.
    I think my generation is losing a lot because they are too focused on technology to appreciate the joy of going on a hike or reading a good book. Everything was so much simpler when green was just a color. It would be great if things could be like that again.

  • She's a Maineiac

    Excellent post. I try to help my kids do the normal things I did as a kid, y’know ride bikes and run in the grass. Good stuff.

    And ah, yes typewriters! Miss those days when the ink ribbon would get jammed up…the sound of the clicking of the keys in typing class. Oh and card catalogs at the library! Those were the days! When we had to actually physically look something up on those little cards then search high and low for that book.

  • Margie

    Well said. I`m glad I am as old as dirt, because it gives me living options that many younger people don`t even know about.

  • Mother of 2 and No More

    I enjoyed this post. I think having a balanced life: some technology some green, would be nice.

  • realanonymousgirl2011

    What a wonderful entry. I’m not much older than your daughter and I have a 9 month old. And I couldn’t agree more. We’re one of the last of our friends to have kids so we’ve gotten all kinds of second hand clothes and toys. It’s great! I really have only had to buy diapers and baby food.

  • Michi

    Beautiful post. My brother and I are 16 years apart, and when I told him about how when I was growing up, there were no cell phones, internet, computers (accessible to the public anyhow), or GPSs (we had to use a paper map), his first response was, “Wow. Did you even have fruit?”
    It’s absolutely crazy how much American life has changed in such a short span of time.

  • I Made You A Mixtape

    Beautifully written- love your blog!

  • modestypress

    Has “green” become the new religion?

  • notesfromrumbleycottage

    I love your post because we live this way in our house. there is one TV and the computers are all in the office. My kids have some of the modern convenience but they also know how to go outside and pretend. In the summer, they like to camp out in the tent in our backyard.

    I don’t think we called it being ‘green’ way back when. It was being a whacked out environmentalist or a ‘treehugger.’ Thanks to those people, Lake Erie is fishable again and eagles have made a comeback after nearly being devestated by DDT.

    Congrats on being freshly pressed, enjoy the surge.

  • juli boggs

    Nicely put, however I think that raising our children just as we did before there was “the green thing” is definitely not the way to ensure any sort of healthy future for them. We like to remember the past as this dreamy, perfect, organic environment where everything was safe and simple, but that’s not true.

    I believe what’s important is raising our children to make healthy decisions about what they are and are not consuming in regards to technology. In many ways, these developments are helping to rectify what we desetroyed because green “was just a color” and we had no concept of our impact on the Earth.

    For the next generation, differentiating between positive development and frivolous distractions will not mean either acepting or rejecting technology. It has to be a comprimise, and it’s our responsibility to give them those values that will improve their future.

  • loustar02

    Fantastic post – so timely in this crazy consumer age of needing more and being constantly linked to some piece of technology or other. So many kids I see now are flung in front of a tv or sent off to structured programmes (which I am sure are great in their own way but very rigid and organised) rather than just being given time to create, play and imagine. What a waste of the creative potential of those beautiful minds.

    This is an important reminder that life is there to be lived and enjoyed and we don’t always need more stuff to help us!

  • michellevsze

    very nice post,really inspiring. i’m a young mom with two kids, i sure hope to be able to raise my kids successfully just like you did. come to think of it, being green is not only about doing what is good for our earth and nature,its practical and it teaches us values like contentment or living within our means and choosing our priorities and knowing what we need from what we want.sad to say that it sounds so simple but a lot of people cannot distinguish intelligently between those two (want / need). they are forever dragged into the “what’s in”.

    • Susan Warren Utley

      being green is not only about doing what is good for our earth and nature,its practical and it teaches us values like contentment or living within our means and choosing our priorities and knowing what we need from what we want

      Well said Michelle!

  • graveyardsandgrasslands

    I very much like the sentiment behind the post but I can’t help but think that the point is a little … well pointless.

    Yes, we all know that in the past things were generally more “green” naturally but as you have suggested this is due to less choice and money. It is still unfortunately a fact that 50 years ago people were not living without environmental impact.

    “Green” has become a hot topic not because it’s ‘cool’ but because we have become aware of our impact and because we have reached a critical point in the health of our planet.

    I am the same age as your daughter and I too was raised without TV, reading books before bed and our house was heated by a wood burning stove and home grown logs.

    However, while some modern advances have led to a live of frivolity for some, they also mean that we get internet bills instead of paper, we download our music instead of buying a plastic record in a plastic bag…

    Yes… we are probably more wasteful in some ways but I am afraid that throughout history we have had a massive environmental impact on the planet, we were just oblivious.

    Whether you’re green to be cool, green to be vintage or just green to be green… it’s about time we congratulated ourselves for the effort and try to make some more before our impact on the planet is irreversible.

    Thanks for the post. Very though provoking.

  • Mackenzie | Red Roan Chronicles

    Great post, and congrats on being Fresh Pressed!

    I’m probably a bit younger than you but I had a similar upbringing… mostly because we were very poor. (I still am very poor. It’s a pattern. :D) Me and my brothers both ended up getting into computers as we got older, so we didn’t escape the gaming and the Internet addiction, but we did make careers out of it, so that’s something. 😀 I think it’s funny though how the more technology advances and the more disposable culture becomes, the more people I see starting to realize that mindless consumption and losing themselves in television isn’t a good way to live. These days I only buy consumer goods that I expect to last me for years… if it doesn’t seem durable and functional, I don’t buy it.

    I’ll probably never have kids (they’re great, but I don’t want any myself :D) but my best friend recently had a little boy, and I’m a little shocked sometimes at myself for how fiercely I want that boy’s future to be better than what I’m seeing for most kids now.

  • dennisfinocchiaro

    I love this post! I’m often inspired by the older items I pick up at yard sales and such, and I still use a typewriter to create some of my art! This was a really fun read…congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  • Maria

    If you’re old as dirt, I don’t want to think about what that makes me. There’s a great sculpture at the Olympic Sculpture park in Seattle – it’s a typewriter eraser and you’d not believe how many kids look at it with complete confusion

    I don’t remember glass milk containers but parents recall were great when recycling hit the social consciousness, telling me it’s what they did as kids during WWII – sort, save and reuse.

    Nice post. Thanks!

  • Kathryn McCullough

    What an amazing post–perfectly paced–well done! Congrats on being FP-ed. Hang on for the ride!

    • Susan Warren Utley

      Thank you so much! When I first read your comment the other day I really had no idea what it meant to be Freshly Pressed! I was thinking, “Ride? What ride?” Now I get it! Thanks for joining the party!

  • maryct70

    I tried to explain to my son recently that phones used to come with cords, and were often attached to walls so you had to stand in one place for the conversation. I then had to tell him that when we were kids, phones didn’t take pictures, and you certainly couldn’t use them to “Google” things. He was awestruck.
    That being said, while we do watch TV, I think my kids watch much less than I did as a kid, and they see it as a treat. They have a Wii but are as likely to be playing with puppets or puzzles as they are Mario Carts.
    Ironic though, that we have to work so hard to keep things simple these days! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  • Sarah

    I’m nearly 25 and I can’ totally relate to this. I never had a t.v. in my room and neither did my sisters. Our favourite thing was playing outside, climbing trees, and if it was raining we loved puzzles, duplo, and particularly “making things!” I feel that it IS a conscious effort to try and be more green nowadays though, I try and recycle as much as I can, if the facilities aren’t to hand, I will go out of my way to do it, but as a country (I’m in the UK) that is used to fast living (as I’m sure the USA is) it doesn’t seem like being “green” is being made particularly accessible?

    Also, I miss Sesame Street!!

    Great blog post, and great email/article from your Dad!

    • Susan Warren Utley

      Hi Sarah! Good for you and good for your parents! It sounds like you have a lot in common with my daughter. These small things parents to do to foster creativity and stimulate the imagination help children grow into productive, caring, and responsible young adults. I hope both of you pass this on to your children.

  • urbannight

    Last week I watched the movie Grown Ups because I needed something in the background as I packed to move. I didn’t see it in the theaters because it looked stupid. It turned out to be a fairly wonderful little movie. In many ways, it deals with what this post is about.

    I found myself relating to the adults who grew up in a time when kids could go outside and find half a dozen ways to entertain themselves without needing battery power. It showed how all this technology to bring far flung people closer pushes families farther apart.

    I grew up camping myself. And maybe I missed the exact point the movie was trying to make. To me, it showed that people really need regular camping trips with friends and family (with a ban on electronics) to build healthy relationships and lives.

  • Mikalee Byerman

    Beautiful sentiment…I had to laugh a few months ago when my 8-year-old saw a typewriter for the first time.

    “What is THAT?” she inquired, aghast at the sight of the long bars hitting the paper in repetitive motion. The receptionist at the dentist office asked her to come around the desk and gave her a brief tutorial.

    I was appropriately mortified at her lack of pre-tech-time savvy. But it made me smile nonetheless!


    • Susan Warren Utley

      I too was surprised when the grandchildren were completely in awe of this contraption I called a typewriter. They are fascinated by it! It is amazing how many things have become obsolete over the past few years!

  • Patricia

    What a wonderful post. I agreee with it all – and thank God, I had exactly the childhood you describe.
    And I still use my imagination.
    Some people ask: “Where did you get it?” 🙂

  • The Simple Life of a Country Man's Wife

    Great post, great points. My parents had the same ideas you did … no video games, no cable, one tv. Needless to say, we didn’t watch it much and most of our time was spent outdoors, either playing with friends or playing sports. It was easier to be “green” without all the options. Thanks for the reminder!

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