Monday, April 20th, 2009

Waste Not, Want Not

There’s a lot of talk in the media and the blogosphere (here, there and everywhere), about today’s young people being the “Green Generation.” It’s even the theme for this year’s Earth Day.

Sure enough, my 17-year-old daughter and her peers know a lot about caring for the environment. She’s fairly serious about recycling, admonishes me to turn out lights that aren’t in use and simply can’t understand why people of a certain age are so wasteful.

Case in point: Just the other day, I watched as she casually tossed her lunch, which consisted of a vanilla yogurt, into her messenger bag. Our conversation went something like this:

“Is that all you’re taking?”
“Yes.”
“Don’t you want a little more for lunch? You know …”
“Mom, I am never hungry at school.”
“Well, at the very least, don’t you think you should put the yogurt in a Tupperware® or a Ziploc®?”
“Mooommmm. Sheesh. I know what I’m doing, okay? Besides, that would be such a waste.”

Off to school she trundled, yogurt freely banging around the inside of a crowded messenger bag, cavorting with heavy text books and the like. When lunch time came, she opened her bag to discover that the entire contents – books, papers, school supplies – were covered in luke-warm vanilla yogurt. Instead of eating lunch, she spent the next half hour wiping down her books and scraping yogurt out of the crevices of her bag.

At dinner that night, my daughter regaled us with the horrors of her ruined messenger bag and swore she would never eat yogurt again.

I admit that I danced around the “I told you so” theme, reminding her that a plastic Tupperware container would have protected both her lunch and her bag, and that using a Ziploc bag would have at least kept her books dry. Would we have had to wash out the Tupperware or the Ziploc? Sure. But either one would have provided a happier ending for her bag and school books. She didn’t argue. She knew I was right.

While we can all be proud of the forward-thinking, environmentally-positive attitude of the millennial generation, those of us who have grown up with plastic can occasionally teach this younger generation a thing or two.

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