Being Green – our generation didn’t have the green thing back then!!

The following piece ‘Being Green’ has been circulating on various social media platforms over the past few months and it really struck a chord with me. Like the woman at the checkout we didn’t have the ‘green thing back when I was growing up but everyday we were doing the ‘green’ thing without actually realising it.  Just take a few minutes to read it through and you too will see how easy it was, and still is to be green.

Being Green!

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment. The woman apologized and explained, “We didn’t have this green thing back in my earlier days.” The young clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.” She was right — our generation didn’t have the green thing in its day.

Being Green - our generation didn't have the green thing back then!!

Old Cash Register ~ Photo Credit ~ South Park City Museum via www.tripadvisor.com

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were truly recycled. But we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

Being Green - our generation didn't have the green thing back then!!

We returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the shops

Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags, that we reused for numerous things, most memorable besides household garbage bags, was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our schoolbooks. This was to ensure that public property, (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags. But too bad we didn’t do the green thing back then.

Being Green - our generation didn't have the green thing back then!!

Brown paper bags were used to wrap groceries and then reused to wrap books

We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. But she was right. We didn’t have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throwaway kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts — wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that young lady is right; we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

Solar powered clothes dryer!

Solar powered clothes dryer!

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house — not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she’s right; we didn’t have the green thing back then.

Being Green - our generation didn't have the green thing back then!!

A single radio to keep up with the daily news stories

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But we didn’t have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint. But isn’t it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn’t have the green thing back then?

Being Green - our generation didn't have the green thing back then!!

No computers or electronic gadgets back then.

It struck me as I was reading it that life was so much simpler back then. I remember my mother washing out the milk bottles (the two in the photo escaped as I found them while doing a litter pick!), using brown paper to cover school books, washing the nappies by hand and we walked or cycled to the shops. My first introduction to typing was on the typewriter in the photo above (that’s not that many years ago!!). I remember strapping it to my bicycle and cycling four miles to the classes and back home again.

Whoever originally wrote this piece was right – we probably didn’t consume nearly as much oil/gas/electricity back then. However, it wasn’t because we were being ‘green’, it was more because technology hadn’t advanced far enough yet. What do you think? Were we being ‘green’ back then or was it just a way to make ends meet?

All photographs unless otherwise credited are copyright of Mary Gethings.

Local school bottles it!

Over the past few months the children of Scoil Naomh Maodhóg in Ferns, Co. Wexford have been busy collecting two litre plastic bottles to construct their latest eco-friendly project. The bottles have now found a new lease of  life as the school’s eco-friendly greenhouse.

Plastic bottle greenhouse

Preparing greenhouse for vegetable planting

The lids and labels were removed and the bottoms were trimmed to allow them to slot into each other to create a long tube. The tubes were then stacked side by side and secured into the timber  frame with wires spaced at intervals up the frame and roof.  The wires hold the bottle in place and it is the cross tie wire that binds it into a solid wall, closing most of the gaps.

This is the perfect project for schools as it is a great re-use educational structure that really works.

The school has a ‘green’ ethos that is to be admired and is working towards becoming a more environmentally friendly and sustainable school.  School projects to date include the creating of  raised flower and vegetable beds, wildlife garden and pond, a  newly planted woodland area, the erection of bird boxes, butterfly boxes and an insect hotel that are all tended by the children. They make their own compost and water the plants with the rainwater they collect.

Cold frame protecting the young plant

Coldframe made from old windows

The children are introduced to growing their own vegetables. They plant the seeds and wait patiently for them to germinate.  They are then planted out when weather permits and  each class take turns to water and keep them weed free. There is great excitement when its time to harvest the produce as they get to divide it and bring it home.

Last year the potatoes were harvested and the children cut them into chips. They were then brought to the local diner to be cooked. A very tasty meal was had by all!

Planting potatoes in one of the many raised vegetable beds

Pond and wild flower garden

A  long side the pond the children have planted a variety of nectar producing plants and shrubs to encourage butterflies and other nectar loving insects into the garden. Rough grass margins have also been successfully established and this provides an excellent habitat for many insects and is ideal for the newly-emerged frogs that are a great attraction for the children every year.

Native tree nursery

Last year the school  began the task of extending the existing Woodland area. It was decided to plant only native species to the area  so the children brought in tree sapplings from their own gardens and created a nursery. When they were strong  enough they were planted out in the well prepared area. Their aim is to create natural habitats so as to introduce various insects, butterflies and birds into the school grounds. The children have great fun walking through the Woodland, turning up stones and wood to see what insects are lurking beneath.

Newly planted woodland area

 

Mature woodland area rich in biodiversity

 

Birdboxes are placed in safe areas to attract birds to the school grounds

 

Butterfly boxes

Last year a Tidy Towns Junior Committee was formed. They are a great asset to the community as they are involved in keeping the school litter free, promote energy efficiency and recycling and reusing in the school. They were also involved with the development of the Community Park.  They were presented with an Endeavour Award  in recognition of their great work and achievements. They are busy planning some very exciting projects at the moment which are so top secret thet they won’t even divulge the details to the Ferns Tidy Towns Committee. May just watch this space!

Sensory garden and hopscotch area

Picnic Area in the Community park

Members of Junior Tidy Towns enjoying the end of year party organised by Ferns Tidy Towns Committee.

Junior Tidy Towns receiving their well deserved Endeavour Award

It is one of the most energy efficient schools in the area. Over the years the school has taken on projects such as upgrading their insulation, installing new windows and replacing incandescent light bulbs with energy saving light bulbs. The children have a great awareness of energy saving. Simple measures like turning off lights and closing doors when leaving a room help to conserve energy.

 

World First for UCC as Students Raise Green Flag

University College Cork (UCC) today(February 19th, 2010) became the first 3rd level educational institution in the world to be accredited with the prestigious international ‘Green Flag’ award. The award, presented by Minister John Gormley, on behalf of An Taisce, to UCC President Dr Michael Murphy, is a direct result of the Green-Campus programme, a student-led initiative undertaken by UCC students and staff over the last 3 years.

The Green-Campus programme, operated in Ireland by An Taisce, has seen the University save €300,000 in waste management costs, reduce waste to landfill by nearly 400 tonnes and improve recycling from 21% to 60%. Furthermore, UCC has conserved almost enough water this year to fill the equivalent of the Lough of Cork.

The first step was for the students to establish a Green-Campus Committee, in conjunction with the Buildings & Estates Department and academic staff. An environmental review followed. “There were absolutely no recycling facilities for students walking on the campus”, recalls Maria Kirrane, a student representative on the committee. “In fact, our very first action was to put on overalls and literally dive into the skips to see exactly what types of waste were being disposed of!”

In addition to staff recycling systems that previously existed, new recycling facilities for students are now available in front of the lecture halls, and in the canteens, where the staff is trained in minimising waste. Students in lecture theatres and laboratories are alerted to turn off lights and electrical equipment. College maintenance vehicles are now running on biodiesel. Carpooling has been introduced to facilitate lifts to and from campus. Enhanced Park & Ride and bike parking areas are designed to encourage more sustainable travel. Each year the Students Union holds a Green Awareness Week on campus, where real actions are supplemented by academic talks on environmental sustainability.

“It is quite a leap, transforming the Green-Schools programme, geared for the typical school of a few hundred students, to a complex campus of 130 acres, 16,000 students and almost 3,000 staff,” explained Dr Michael John O’Mahony of An Taisce. “In population terms UCC is bigger than your average Irish town, so bringing together all the necessary parties and practices to develop it into a sustainable Green-Campus was a real challenge.”

UCC President, Dr Michael Murphy said it is a source of great pride to the university, its staff and its students, that UCC has become the first third level institution in the world to be awarded the designation. “It is a wonderful achievement to have innovative thinkers among the staff and students in UCC all working towards the same objective.

“It was these students, who had been part of the Green Flag programme at secondary school level, who believed from the outset that the concept could be transferred successfully to an institution of UCC’s size and that by raising awareness throughout the university, we could, together, make a real difference.”

Mark Poland, Director of Building and Estates, added: “This initiative has provided a great forum for environmentally-conscious members of staff and students to assist in how we tackle our environmental responsibilities as a university community.”

An Taisce, on behalf of the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), granted the international accreditation after a rigorous assessment by an expert panel. UCC is now looking to build on the award. “We’d like to make it easier for students to cycle to college, possibly through a bike purchase scheme”, says Maria Kirrane. “Also, while UCC is a beautiful campus, many of the plants here are non-native. We’re looking to address biodiversity on campus.” In addition a programme to convert the college food waste into compost has commenced.

“There is a wide of range of environmental management programmes that a third level college could undertake. However, the Green Campus programme is unique because it is student-led and they are the key decision makers,” says Jan Eriksen, President of FEE. A number of other 3rd level institutions in Ireland will be applying for a Green-Flag shortly.

“This is about more than making a campus green”, continues Michael John. “Over the past 14 years, hundreds of thousands of students in Ireland have been brought up with Green-Schools, sometimes starting at pre-school, through primary schools and then second level. It is critical that the chain not be broken once they complete the Leaving Cert. It needs to continue into 3rd level, and from there into their professional as well as their personal lives so that they become life-long educators and ambassadors of sustainable living.”

Source:UCC Media and Communications – http://www.ucc.ie/en/mandc/news/fullstory,95898,en.html

UCC world’s first university to get Green Flag award

The award was presented for the Green Campus initiative which in the past three years has seen the university save €300,000 in waste management costs, by reducing waste to landfill by nearly 400 tonnes and improving recycling from 21% to 60%.

Furthermore, UCC has conserved almost enough water this year to fill the equivalent of the Lough in the city. The award was presented yesterday by Minister John Gormley, on behalf of An Taisce, to UCC president Dr Michael Murphy

In addition to staff recycling systems that previously existed, new recycling facilities for students are now available in front of the lecture halls, and in the canteens where staff are trained in minimising waste.

Students in lecture theatres and laboratories are alerted to turn off lights and electrical equipment.

College maintenance vehicles are now running on biodiesel and carpooling has been introduced to facilitate lifts to and from campus.

“It is quite a leap, transforming the Green Schools programme, geared for the typical school of a few hundred students, to a complex campus of 130 acres, 16,000 students and almost 3,000 staff,” Dr Michael John O’Mahony of An Taisce said.

Dr Murphy said it is a source of great pride to the university, its staff and its students, that UCC has become the first third-level institution in the world to be awarded the designation.

Source: Irish Examiner Saturday, February 20, 2010