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Bob Lind, Published March 19 2013

Lind: Older generation didn’t waste, ‘used it up, wore it out’

Young folks who blame older generations for making the planet a mess because they wastefully threw away too much stuff have it all wrong, according to Roger Engstrom, of Detroit Lakes, Minn.

Roger writes that older folks “used it up, wore it out, made it do and sometimes just went without,” and gives some examples.

“Farmers with older machinery often had pairs of machines that matched,” he says. “One was for parts, the other one was used in the field until it was used for parts. Then maybe a third machine, just like the other two, was acquired. Eventually iron from these broken-down machines was used to build something.

“Our milk and soda came in glass bottles. When the bottles were empty they were returned to the grocery store. The store sent them back to be washed and refilled. The bottles were used until they broke. Then throw-away aluminum cans and plastic bottles came along.

“Our clothes were washed in a washing machine that used a wringer to squeeze out the excess water. Then the clothes were hung outside on the clothes line to dry. In the winter they came in the house as stiff as a board (where) the drying process was completed.

“Our house had one black-and-white TV and no more than two radios,” Roger writes. “The TV screen was about the size of a big handkerchief.

“My granddaughter uses an iPod to remind her what to do from one minute to the next. She even has her grocery list on it.

“After I watched her use it a few minutes, I took a pen out of my shirt pocket and showed her my iPod. I held the pen in my right hand and wrote a note to myself on the palm of my left hand. Her eyes just rolled when I told her I use an ‘original’ iPod. Mine didn’t cost anything, either; I got the pen for free when I cashed my paper paycheck at the bank.

“At Christmas time (last year),” Roger says, “a package came in the mail. It was full of some pellet-like stuff called Styrofoam that stuck to everything and made a mess. We used wadded-up newspaper to cushion a fragile item; it didn’t make a mess.

Paying for water, rocks?

“The thing that really blows my mind,” Roger says, “is people paying money for drinking water and rocks. Our drinking water came right from the tap at the kitchen sink. In the summer we often got our drink from the garden hose. When we picked rocks off our field, we unloaded them in a slough or some place we wouldn’t see them again. Now people pay money for rocks!”

Roger also says that carrying groceries home from the store in your own bag isn’t anything new. He tells of a farmer who used to walk to town, then carried his groceries home on his back in a grain sack.

“I guess we are supposed to go back to the way that man did it,” he says.

And he concludes with, “So it goes in an environmentally friendly world in 2013.”


If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107; fax it to (701) 241-5487; or email blind@forumcomm.com