How Green Were My 1920s (or, We Recycled Before it was Cool)

Hello! Marjorie here, back from a visit to the 21st century, where I've been helping my author put the finishing touches on my story.

One thing I noticed on my visit was how concerned most people are with the state of the environment. Such people are described as having a "green" lifestyle, or being "green." 

Here in the 1920s, a person who describes herself as "green" is either (1) very new at something, such as being "green" on the job, i.e., just learning the ropes, or (2) feeling a bit queasy, perhaps after last night's questionable chop suey. In your era it means being careful about the environment, conserving natural resources, not being wasteful, and tidying up the planet.

I don't want to toot my own horn, but you moderns didn't invent recycling, you know. For eons even before I came along, parents have been telling children to "waste not, want not" and "clean up your mess." In other words, be green!

Here are a few specific ways that the 1920s are environmentally sound:

*We use reusable glass containers instead of plastic. Glass is the perfect thing for bottles, containers, dishes, and all manner of things. Of course once in a while we drop it and it breaks, but not very often, if we pay attention to what we are doing instead of mooning about with our heads in the clouds, or our faces in our telephones.
*When we're thirsty, we drink tap water or well water instead of buying it in plastic bottles from the grocery store--bottles that contain some not-nice chemicals and then need to be discarded. Of course, we love our Coca-Cola and cream soda, too, but they are treats, not everyday staples of our diet.
*We cook most of our meals at home, and feel a little sorry for the lonely souls living in boarding houses who have to eat their meals out all the time. We use fewer prepackaged and convenience foods, because they are just beginning to come on the market, are expensive, and frankly, we don't think they taste all that great. In the 1920s, Clarence Birdseye is just developing his method for flash-freezing foods, and most of us don't have a deep-freeze to store them in, anyway. For the most part we use fresh ingredients. Our idea of a convenience food is something from a can, and most of us try not to overly rely on canned goods, but save them for occasions when life gets crazy-hectic and we have to rely on what we call a "pantry dinner" (and we try not to let that happen too often).
*We have many fewer electrical appliances than you do--hardly any, in fact! You-there in 2016 have electric dishwashers, blenders, toasters, vacuum cleaners, whirligigs and whatnots. We do most all our chores by hand, which helps us get in our exercise, too. We also don't use electric hair dryers, rollers, or curling irons. We curl our hair using pincurls on wet hair and letting it air-dry, or by heating curling irons on the stove (where we also heat our irons for pressing clothes. I notice that many of you in the 21st century have done away with your irons entirely due to your "miracle" fabrics that don't wrinkle. And even when they do wrinkle, you don't seem to care as much as we do about going around looking rumpled and unkempt. But that's another topic for another day!)

Of course in the 1920s we do have factories that belch unsavory substances into the air, and our automobiles chug along with nary a care about "emissions." I never said we were perfect! But in terms of daily life, a lot of what seems newly "green" to you is plain old common sense to us.


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