Tom Brokaw’s The Greatest Generation may have been The Greenest Generation too.

For the past three weeks, I (with my wife & kids) took a remarkable and beautiful trip around a good portion of the United States.  We camped at Grand Teton and Yellowstone. Watched herds of bison grazing and even saw a bison swimming across the Yellowstone river in Hayden valley. We watched cut-throat trout spawning, saw Old Faithful… and saw a great number of elk including one that was a 16 pointer. One morning I was startled by a deer passing thru our camp-site. We continued on to see Devil’s Tower, got caught in a rain and hail storm on our way to Mt Rushmore. We then camped near the developing sculpture of Crazy Horse and drove through the Black Hills and the Badlands. In South Dakota, we saw a black bear wild preserve, and watched for miles upon miles the richness of farmland producing corn, wheat and other crops seemed to be flourishing. Huge sky, big clouds, green pastures and clean air, just as it was growing up in the Midwest.

As we continued on – across the top of our nation’s wonders, we made our way to a vacation and family visit in Wisconsin.  After this truly wonderful trip to get to my home-town – what was remarkable was how eco-conscious my elderly parents are.  I have witnessed them for years being cautious of their over-use of ‘things’.

This visit it dawned on me that it went way beyond that. It is part of who they are, not who they are trying to be or become.

They will reuse a napkin on occasion. They have one small (tiny) trash can in the kitchen and naturally recycle, or compost everything else. The empty peanut butter jar could have been sent back to the packing plant to refill – they scrape it so clean. The dishes aren’t done with water running, but rather with a small bit of soapy water in the sink. The backyard is full of raspberry bushes, flowers, green beans, onion, tomatoes and more. They don’t water the lawn., they cut it and let nature take it’s course through the seasons. Never will you see a bit of food thrown away. The lights are only on if needed.

Witnessing their innate responsibility made me look at our own generation and the younger generations as well. My conclusion is that we have all been pretty fat and happy for far too long, and it is time that we take a serious look to prior generations to see how they lived. Ask any elderly person who actually lived through the depression of the 1930’s and I can assure you they will recall the times where they had to reduce, reuse and recycle not because someone told them to, not because it was chic or because they were trying to make a social statement. It was because it made sense to their well-being.

Growing up in the midwest, I was born and raised in a natural environment and having gone on this trip brought back some wonderful memories and provided a perspective for me that I wanted to share. The bottom line, I suggest you dig in the dirt and plant a garden, turn off the light when you leave the room and finish all of the food on your plate.


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