The climate change generation

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A friend was today bemoaning that ”everything was breaking down” – her computer, her fridge, her vacuum cleaner.

All of them under 10 years old and not worth repairing.  In fact the IT Geek at the computer shop looked at her with disbelief at the mere suggestion her five year old laptop was worth repairing. FIVE YEARS OLD!!!

Generation Y are the climate change generation.  They invented recycling, power savings and conservationism.

Was Grandma the climate change guru?

Yet close examination of our techno-dependent society begs the question as to whether grandma was really the climate change guru?

There is a never ending quest to keep pace with the latest technology in our fast moving modern lives. Have we lost sight of the ecological fundamentals which were passed down from generation to generation?  The basics that Generation Y seem to have forgotten.

Whitegoods were a lifetime investment. You bought your fridge and washing machine when you got married. Then your children probably got a few more years out of them once you passed on.  In today’s consumerist world , a lifetime guarantee means the lifetime of the product and the average lifespan is about 5 years.

Waste not Want Not. Everything was saved. Packages arrived in brown paper and string, which were carefully untied, the string rolled around a spool in the kitchen draw and the paper carefully ironed and folded for the next time you needed to send a package.

Groceries came in paper bags, that were folded and taken to the shops next time.

While at the shops, prepackaging had not been heard of.  You placed your oranges, apples etc in your string bag to take to the counter to be weighed.  Cheese, smallgoods etc were bought from the deli counter,  where they were carefully wrapped in paper. None of the hermitcally sealed multi-layered plastic which requires a degree in engineering and a light saber to open.

Waste not want not (again). Clothing was reused. And I don’t mean taken to Vinnies, where it is sorted, washed, culled to landfill and the ”good stuff” resold.  Jumpers were unravelled and reknitted.  Dresses were remodelled.  I myself unpicked the tent like skirts from my (home made) maternity dresses to make pretty outfits for my daughter.

Waste not want not (yes Grandma said this often). We repaired things. If you got a hole in your shoe you took it to the cobbler – a dying breed now, but we used to have one in every town. Long pants with a knee out of them were made into shorts. We darned socks, fixed zippers, and added frills to the bottom of skirts and dresses to get another year’s wear.

We had fridge and washing machine repair men, who came when they said they would and got our whitegoods going again. I have been waiting since 2007 for the repair man to return to finish repairs on my stove top, which I have long since given up on and replaced.

Nothing was wasted. The roast leftovers were souped, leftover veggies made into ”bubble and squeak” and grandma baked.

We walked. Long before it was trendy to walk or ride a bike, we did so. It was a huge privilege to get driven to school in the car – if you had one. Now most families have two, and are stuck for hours each day in the inter-city commute to and from work. I noted with interest last time I was in Sydney, the proliferation of bike racks now installed in the inner city streets – a facility I last saw at the Auburn Municipal Baths back in around 1972.

We had a record player which multi-tasked – it played 78’s ’45’s and LP’s – for the Generation Post_Baby Boomers reading this ”78s” were discs which spun at 78 revs per minute, were thicker and dated back to the 50’s and earlier.

The first gramaphones would have played 78’s – and that is a history lesson in itself for another day. ”45s were smaller discs (referred to as ”singles”) which had one song on either side (hence the term, hit single).

You may also have heard the term “”B single”” this is where it originated from, it was the OTHER song. LP’s were albums – the equivalent of today’s CD. The same record player was often in the family for generations. Not until next year’s model came out.

So next time Generation Y talk about Climate Change, Conservation and Recycling – could you please find someone to fix my washing machine?

Read also: Keeping pace with modern life
Memories of pre-digital technology

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