Accidentally Green

Accidentally Green

Accidentally Green

My parents

were green

by accident

in the days

before we knew

being green

meant more than

shade de Kermit.

Say no to plastic

What plastic?

Stand to attention

brown paper bags carefully packed

with a few days worth of Woolies groceries

fish and chips greased

their best mate

the newspaper

string bags leaked

onion skins and

small potatoes

little old ladies tugged

reluctant vinyl

shopping bags on wheels

a man in a van sold fresh fish

door to door

convenience wrapped in butchers paper

no need for polystyrene platters

strangled by

how do you get this open

plastic wrap

foam clamshells

yet to be invented

for double-decker mega

heart attack waiting to happen


empty glass bottles on night sentry duty

replaced daily by fresh

full milk bottles saluting the rising sun.

Mulch and Compost

Scraps chucked

on the heap

in the backyard

orange peels

and apple cores


out the window

by the children

don’t tell mum.


Truck-loads of clothes, shoes

but never underwear

came from

St Vinnie’s

the patron saint of all things second-hand

not seen as green

but the all important



I remember helping mum unravelling second hand jumpers to reuse the wool. I would wind the wool into warm, coloured balls and she would make a new scarf or jumper. Not always the latest fashion statement but it did the job. Mum saved buttons, string and wrapping paper. Younger children were victims of hand-me-downs.

Living Local

We had a Tomato Lady

knocking on every door

in the street

Greek widow

in black

laden with home grown supplies to sell

scaring little children with her ensemble.

Most kids had tales to tell

of grandma’s back yard chooks

tales of boisterous roosters

poking tender appendages

feeding phobias.


A Grandpa I never met

built a tiny house

in Murarrie

one kitchen

one lounge room

one bedroom

two enclosed verandas

for the kids to sleep in

one outhouse.

That house was enough for him

his wife

and three tall boys

who would one day reach the sky

all 6foot 3inches high

on meat and three veg.

Conserve Energy

No computers

1 television

1 wireless

no mobile phones

no air-conditioning

except in mum and dad’s room

1 fan

1 bar heater

barely heating mum’s feet

the dishwasher had two hands

the clothes dryer

was solar powered

except when it rained

and you brought the clothes

in off the hills hoist

and draped them

over the hot water system.

Reduce Car Use

Dad drove to work

and picked up Mum from shopping

we walked most other places

my best friends lived within a 2 kilometre radius

and that was no coincidence

walk to school

walk to church

walk to the shops

walk to weekend






or get other parents to carpool your kids!

Save Water

My parents failed modern City Council standards.



under the sprinkler

water wasting



creating ideals

childhood memories.

31 thoughts on “Accidentally Green

  1. My parents
    were green – left me a bit stunned, and smiling. from there the read flowed softly and nicely through your memories. though i am a big anti recycling with the rest i am trying to live more or less, sounds like fantastic memories… simple naive and pure..

    (perhaps should be and you bRought the clothes)

      1. my thoughts…mm.. where to begin. i think it is BULLSHIT.COWSHIT:DOGSHIT.
        it is just the governments/big companies way of saying “ja ja all of you.. o.k. we do.. blah blah blah”.
        look – in a good world i would say recycling is wonderful. and a Must. but as it is it is nothing but throwing sand in everyone’s eyes..
        we think “ho.. we recycle it is o.k. to get another of those plastic bottles or another full of shit paper (Hey, i Love reading almost anything from this damn paper more than anything else but..) and so.. we continue to use and use and use. what happen to this “recycling” stuff?. think of the amount of waste needed for transporting it. how many percentage are actually being recycled..? what happen with the rest?
        in israel now, they want you to pay for a plastic bag in the super market.. what an absurd. put the thing on the little one at the end of line.. but if they wanted they would make a simple law – NO NO NO plastic. i am sure the companies would come up with cheap strong paper solution in no time.. for anything..
        it all ends up, to me, with putting the shit on the small little people.. rather then taking an action.
        now, of course, recycling is good.. man.. i collect from the street anything that look like something or was something.. but it must came only second to education and strong regulation. none of them will happen
        so i think recycling is sand. big sand dune to cover up the smell of shit and flies attached to it..
        (perhaps i should write about it one day)

            1. thanks for the link GB. interesting. but too my taste still a bit off.. in idnia there are so many plastic bags around only because the west introduce them, rather than the traditional paper bags and eating from banana leaves custom. i still don’t see why a paper bag should cost where a plastic one don’t. but i hope we are getting there.. indeed the only way is for the people themselves to start things moving. politicians don’t make much decisions, at the least the “good” one, they just follow the public feel..

            2. ran out of room with that comment – as i was told by a friend to be lacking in control of common english, i am just running, so stop me if you meant it differently.
              yes, so many things to deal with. i was at the supermarkt the other day, observing the low price and abandons and abun-dance we have and i felt ashamed. really ashamed.

  2. Oh Gabrielle, these are wonderful words! I’m sure we all have lots to learn from our parents and our past. I have so much stuff, I’m overloaded with things I don’t want or need.

    1. I was telling my son about the little house my grandpa built and he said it sounded horrible and where would you fit all your stuff – ha! (I think it’s time to donate some stuff to St Vincent de Paul. Thanks for your comments.

  3. I adored this poem – so much of our generation’s childhood, which the next generation will never get to experience, & their lives all the poorer for it. Maybe civiisation peaked way back in the mid 20th. century & we did not know it.

    1. You may be right. It amazes me how it wasn’t really that long ago when we didn’t need all the stuff that everyone thinks we have to have now. Thanks Jane. ps I miss milk bottles!

  4. Modern society is obsessed with acquiring things. And plastic is the great evil of the 21st century.

    Your poem evoked such great memories for me. My first after school job was in Woolies packing groceries in brown paper bags. When I was a preschooler I used to help my Gran with the daily shop. Everything was put in string bags. We walked everywhere. My Mum’s rose garden flourished because of our excellent compost. I wish it could still be like that. All this convenience, over-production and easy disposability has affected our humanity, I think.

    An outstanding poem. One of my favourites of yours. Thank you !

  5. Thanks Selma. Even my grandma used to walk to and from the shops (and there was a large hill on the way) with her bag on wheels trailing behind. There was only 1 overweight kid in our class at school (and looking back she wasn’t as big as some kids today). Everyone was as ‘skinny as a rake’.

  6. Dhyan – ran out of room with that comment – I agree with you and I really don’t see that piecemeal strategies (one or two towns) make any difference (except a feel good difference) and I am more concerned with the toxins in other plastics, such as plastic baby bottles with BPA (which should be banned)that are affecting health and generally the larger plastic items. Maybe I should blog about it – I’ll do some more research. Here’s to banana leaf platters!

    1. When I said ‘ran out of the room with that comment’ I didn’t actually run out of the room – ha,ha! We have an expression ‘running at the mouth’ when people go on – but I am interested in your opinion so keep going. Some stuff is so cheap considering the energy and labour(maybe by a child) put into it (those two dollar shops!) – it is shameful as you say (and then it gets chucked away as soon as can be).

  7. Reminded of a question that came to mind during a public philosophy seminar while I was watching the elderly lady in front of me knitting the lecturer’s words with yarn into a little jumper. What shade of green am I wearing?

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s