If it’s yellow…

It amazes me still how the social and ecological change movement spread in the 1970s. There was no such thing as the internet. For that matter, there were no personal computers either. It wouldn’t be until 1982 that IBM released what came to be known as The PC.

News, in those days, was spoon fed to us through print, TV and radio.

There were very few loose cannons to upset the establishment apple cart, so the change that did happen occurred through word of mouth—much as it does today, only the internet gives us a broader reach.

I had mentioned in previous posts about the creeping spectre of conservation: first with long gas lines and the Arab embargo, then catalytic converters, and CFCs. Soon, it would water.

In 1976 my home state of California was bone dry. Panic set in as residents were forbidden to water their lawns or wash their cars. A big deal in California. We were urged to conserve and it was the first time I had started thinking about conservation of a natural resource. Gasoline was hardly natural.

A popular slogan at the time has stuck in my memory for all these many years.

If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.

The catchy phrase was a California thing, but it gained national notoriety in 1980 when New York Mayor Ed Koch mentioned it on national television.

Many were embarrassed by the bluntness of what they considered an inappropriate call involving bodily functions and toilets.

But we survived, the drought ended, and we thought there would likely be less noise about conservation after these jarring moments.

Boy, were we wrong.

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