Then and Now: Cheapskate Environmentalism

 

Then: 1950s and ‘60s (my childhood; I was born in 1956)

Now: 1980s onward (my adulthood)

Then: You are a cheapskate (a socially undesirable status) if you: reuse things like paper bags, plastic eating utensils, etc.; you turn off the water while brushing your teeth or washing the car; you turn off lights and appliances you are not using; you turn off the car engine while waiting for someone; you maintain and hold onto old things like clothing, furniture, and cars rather than keep up with current styles; when you do buy a car, you choose a car that goes farther on a gallon of gas. And others. Those things cost money, and “cheapskates” are intent on saving money. “Cheapskates” are mocked by many who considered themselves social betters.

Now: You are being environmentally responsible (a socially desirable status) if you: reuse things like paper (and now plastic) bags, plastic eating utensils, etc.; you turn off the water while brushing your teeth or washing the car; you turn off lights and appliances you are not using; you turn off the car engine while waiting for someone (or even a traffic light); you maintain and hold onto old things like clothing, furniture, and cars rather than keep up with current styles; when you do buy a car, you choose a car that goes farther on a gallon of gas. Those things use the earth’s resources, and the “environmentally responsible” are intent on saving the earth’s resources. “Environmental responsibility” is lauded by those who consider themselves social betters.

So many actions that then (in my childhood) branded my family as “cheapskates” are now lauded as “environmental responsibility.” Same actions. Different social status.

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  1. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Full Size Tabby: “Cheapskates” are mocked by many who considered themselves social betters.

    Yeah, well, we didn’t reuse aluminum foil, but I know plenty of people who did, and they were proud of it!

    • #1
  2. Tex929rr Coolidge
    Tex929rr
    @Tex929rr

    Pretty simple.  When we were kids everyone knew collectivism sucked.  Only loons like Bernie Sanders thought otherwise.  Now they are thought leaders. 

    • #2
  3. Gossamer Cat Coolidge
    Gossamer Cat
    @GossamerCat

    Remember those starving children in Africa?   Our parents taught us it was a sin to waste.  They also grew up during the depression which taught that lesson well.  At some point, we became choked with reusable plastic bags and containers.  Recycling gave us plausible deniability that we were not wasting so we could free up cabinet space. 

    • #3
  4. Caryn Thatcher
    Caryn
    @Caryn

    I guess, given when we were born, we are cheapskates.  But it sure makes us look good next to our woke neighbors.  Without effort.

    • #4
  5. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Full Size Tabby: “Cheapskates” are mocked by many who considered themselves social betters.

    Yeah, well, we didn’t reuse aluminum foil, but I know plenty of people who did, and they were proud of it!

    Growing up, my mother would peel the aluminum off of the wax paper on a pack of gum and press it against a growing ball of aluminum foil that she kept in the kitchen.  It was a habit she got trained into during WWII.

    • #5
  6. Jim Kearney Contributor
    Jim Kearney
    @JimKearney

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    we didn’t reuse aluminum foil, but I know plenty of people who did, and they were proud of it

    and prouder that the CIA couldn’t read their minds because their windows and hats were lined in Reynolds Wrap. 

    Today’s informed paranoic knows that plain ordinary aluminum foil is futile for stopping Lisa Page and Peter Strzok from getting inside your head.

    Have our intelligence agencies tested the shielding properties of the new, stronger heavy duty stuff? Can’t be sure, but who else would pay that price but government purchasing agents? 

     

    • #6
  7. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Don’t throw away perfectly good stuff, including your draft ideas for posts. Reduce one to final form, even if it seems to reuse or recycle from then to now.

    This  post is part of the March Group Writing Theme: “Now  and Then.”

    There are two major monthly Group Writing projects. One is the Quote of the Day project, managed by @she. This is the other project, in which Ricochet members claim one day of the coming month to write on an announced theme. This is an easy way to expose your writing to a general audience, with a bit of accountability and topical guidance to encourage writing for its own sake.

    • #7
  8. navyjag Coolidge
    navyjag
    @navyjag

    I just wish I could have saved more bacon grease.  Wife volunteered to make my favorite sausage with biscuits and gravy. Asked where is the bacon grease, can’t cook without it. Oops. 

    • #8
  9. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Jim Kearney (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    we didn’t reuse aluminum foil, but I know plenty of people who did, and they were proud of it

    and prouder that the CIA couldn’t read their minds because their windows and hats were lined in Reynolds Wrap.

    Today’s informed paranoic knows that plain ordinary aluminum foil is futile for stopping Lisa Page and Peter Strzok from getting inside your head.

    Have our intelligence agencies tested the shielding properties of the new, stronger heavy duty stuff? Can’t be sure, but who else would pay that price but government purchasing agents?

    I use a stainless steel colander.  It deviated the Y-waves.  No one knows what I’m thinking!

    • #9
  10. Victor Tango Kilo Member
    Victor Tango Kilo
    @VtheK

    How much environmentalist lecturing comes from people who buy new iPhones every six months?

    • #10
  11. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    The paper bags are from Whole Foods.  You turn off lights by computer but there are 2.5 times as many rooms and 4x the appliances.  Your hybrid uses less gas but you also use Uber and use a lot of air travel.  You do NOT hang onto furniture that is out of style without the justification of antique status or intentional kitsch. And plastic utensils? Please…

     

    • #11
  12. Brian Clendinen Member
    Brian Clendinen
    @BrianClendinen

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    The paper bags are from Whole Foods. You turn off lights by computer but there are 2.5 times as many rooms and 4x the appliances. Your hybrid uses less gas but you also use Uber and use a lot of air travel. You do NOT hang onto furniture that is out of style without the justification of antique status or intentional kitsch. And plastic utensils? Please…

     

    You are against right to repair. Seriously if you cared about the environment you would use communist anf facist laws to force people to repair thing s even if it cost 3 or 4 times more than buying new. They have no issues doing this with emergy and environmental impact studies.  So why not goods. But we all know it has nothing to due with the enviroment.

     

    However seriously Right to repair is important so we can have the freedom to keep what be bought longer if we so dont want to buy something new. 

    • #12
  13. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    Let’s be careful not to confuse the former environmental movement with woke indifferent urbanized folks. We made huge environmental progress because of a very small bunch of fishermen, hunters and wilderness buffs who waited until the time was right.  They got organized and focused in the late fifties and passed legislation in the 60’s. The most serous problems were fixed and set on the road to correction.  But the movement was seized by the woke  big government folks because it was among the few areas that actually needed government.  We  should have left it to the states as it was one of the movements that empowered Washington.  The country was ready, didn’t want dirty rivers, etc. it might  have taken a little longer in some places but less less time in others.   We learn but we learn too slowly.   We can’t abandon the original notion of bottom up government.  We may already have lost it and if we let the Democrats steal the next election we  (all Americans, even the woke) will lose the country, and if we do, so does the world.   Do folks believe that without the US to compete with all will be fine?  Even China will go down hill once we’re out of the way.

    • #13
  14. Caryn Thatcher
    Caryn
    @Caryn

    I Walton (View Comment):

    Let’s be careful not to confuse the former environmental movement with woke indifferent urbanized folks. We made huge environmental progress because of a very small bunch of fishermen, hunters and wilderness buffs who waited until the time was right. They got organized and focused in the late fifties and passed legislation in the 60’s. The most serous problems were fixed and set on the road to correction. But the movement was seized by the woke big government folks because it was among the few areas that actually needed government. We should have left it to the states as it was one of the movements that empowered Washington. The country was ready, didn’t want dirty rivers, etc. it might have taken a little longer in some places but less less time in others. We learn but we learn too slowly. We can’t abandon the original notion of bottom up government. We may already have lost it and if we let the Democrats steal the next election we (all Americans, even the woke) will lose the country, and if we do, so does the world. Do folks believe that without the US to compete with all will be fine? Even China will go down hill once we’re out of the way.

    Fine example of O’Sullivan’s First Law.  Sadly, there are far too many examples.  In brief, but it’s worth reading the whole thing:

    “All organizations that are not actually right-wing will over time become left-wing. I cite as supporting evidence the ACLU, the Ford Foundation, and the Episcopal Church. The reason is, of course, that people who staff such bodies tend to be the sort who don’t like private profit, business, making money, the current organization of society, and, by extension, the Western world. At which point Michels’s Iron Law of Oligarchy takes over — and the rest follows.”  John O’Sullivan, National Review 1989.  

    • #14
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