Thursday, May 19, 2011

Greatest Generation Had It Right. So What Happened?

We have a lot to learn from our Grandparents.  I find myself in awe with my Grandmother, Nana as I have known her my entire life.  She is the strongest and most opinionated woman I have ever met.  She isn't going to sugar coat anything when it comes to her beliefs.  Why not, she grew up in the Great Depression and watched all of her Brothers sail off to the Pacific in World War II.  She even tried to get certified to ferry B-17 bombers to Europe but luckily the war ended and ALL of her brothers came home to start their new lives.  The great life stories she tells only begin there!

To wrap her up in one sentence, my Dad used to say, "Nana can spit further and shoot straighter than any man alive and will prove it at the drop of a hat."  That being said, she is the essence of a truly radiant, polished and kind Texas woman.

That's a long intro for this post but it is important because Nana is strong willed.  The times she grew up in in South Texas made her that way.  She has never, to my knowledge, backed down from a challenge and rising above plastics is a huge challenge, especially to older people.  The irony is it shouldn't have ever happened that this campaign ever came about.  They already had it right!

Nana grew up in the Great Depression and World War II.  This time in America was all about living on very little and wasting nothing.  People were asked to collect scrap metal, tires, cans, to not drive, grow their own gardens.  Even cooking fat had value to be recycled for explosives.  Nana has told us multiple times of when they would get a stick of chewing gum as kids, it was such a big deal that they would stick it on their headboards when they went to sleep at night and chew it again the next day!

To use something once and throw it away was seen as not being a patriotic American and though times were very difficult, the people that came out were proud, not wasteful and saved everything!

My Grandmother now hates the fact that the City of San Antonio makes her recycle.  What?!  They even provide a large bin and sort it for her.  When you look back on the beginning of this post, you would think that recycling is at the core of her being. After all, she grew up doing it.  Do not get me wrong, this one aspect of her personality does not diminish her in my eyes at all.  I am just wanting to know what happened.  The woman still uses cloth napkins for crying out loud at just about every meal and then washes them! It doesn't jive.  

So what did happen to us in the few decades since the galvanizing of the "Greatest Generation". We got lazy and single use plastics led the way!  Why wash the dishes when you could use a paper plate or cup and throw it away?  Why have to use a soggy paper plate or cup when you could use the newer and stronger plastic ones?  Why go through the effort of taking that case of returnable glass bottles back to the store for that 5 cent refund when you could just get your soda in a convenient can or plastic bottle that can just be discarded when done?  Finally and the biggest one, why drink that "filthy" tap water out of the faucet or fountain when you can carry this "cleaner" and more stylish water around in a convenient SINGLE USE PLASTIC BOTTLE?

The "Rise Above Plastics" campaign is simple in concept and is one of the most challenging things you will ever do in life at the same time.  Breaking the habit of those plastic bottles and bags is hard and anyone who says any different is not being honest.  In fact, you have no real concept of just how much single use plastics have become a part of your life and our society until you decide to make that break.  It can be done though.

"Rise Above Plastics" is an attempt to get us back to where we were just 6 decades ago.  Our Grandparents and parents had it right.  It was good and patriotic to not produce so much waste and to reuse things.  Now through some twisted flip of the script businesses, lobbyists and politicians have convinced us that it is now oppressive and wrong to want our society to go back to the days before we threw away 215 plastic bottles per person in the United States a year.  That's 66 BILLION bottles annually There is something inherently wrong with that line of logic.

If you have not already started or tried, today is your day to go retro and emulate part of the greatness of the "Greatest Generation".  They did it.  My Grandmother still does it on some levels without even realizing it. Remember those cloth napkins?  I'm working with her on the other stuff but when I say strong willed, I am not kidding around.  It will be hard and you will stumble and forget your reusable bags or your reusable bottle or coffee cup but we all make mistakes AND we all become better as we move on from them.  Rehabilitate your life and feel good doing it.

Today is your day to start rising above plastics!!