McKnight’s Articles

I rinse out my plastic bags

I rinse out my used plastic bags.  Maybe not all the time, but often …

Over the weekend, when I found myself carefully examining my Ziploc, it seemed a quick rinse and an inside-out rest on my drying rack would return it to a usable state.

It’s not that I’m all that “green.” I do love our Mother Earth, but that wasn’t driving my behavior.

Growing up at the apron strings of my grandma taught me many lessons. She represented the very special generation (“The Greatest Generation”) that encompassed the immigrant experience, the Depression, the world wars and the huge cultural shifts of the 20th Century.

For Grandma, these experiences, and the values that they instilled, were best represented by the vast reservoir of used aluminum foil and rinsed-out plastic bags that she always had at the ready. Grandma died 13 years ago in the same excellent nursing home where I began my career as a nurse assistant. Her memory remains a blessing.

However, there’s a very different kind of grandma living in our nursing homes today. In 2016, the average age of our long-stay residents was 83 years.  But the “New Grandma” was born as the Great Depression ended. In many instances, she was first generation American, born to immigrants who made their way to our nation in the decades prior. They were filled with the classic American values of patriotism, deference to authority, trust in society’s structures and institutions, and conformity to the mores of one’s community.

Continue reading Steven Littlehale’s guest column on