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Green like Grandma


When I was little, I spent a lot of time with my grandmother, or "Nonna."  I always remember that she would save the little plastic yogurt cups and I would use them as drinking cups while I was there.  It dawned on me that my grandmother was actually quite green.  While today's generation is getting more eco-conscious, our grandparents and great-grandparents generations did a lot of very green things, without even realizing how green it was.  

We could all learn a lesson from those generations.  Here are some old-fashioned things that we can all get back into the habit of doing:

  • Drink tap water.  Bottled water would have seemed ridiculous 100 years ago, but now people tote their Poland Springs wherever they go.   

  • Preserve food.  Canning is awesome.   

  • Cook from scratch.  TV dinners have been around for over 50 years and even though canned foods were around for a while before that, today's busy culture has gotten more reliant on prepared foods.  Make your own frozen meals on a lazy Sunday afternoon and save them for an evening where you're too busy to cook.

  • Walk.  Two-car families are a relatively new thing, so often families would walk places instead of driving.   My grandfather used to ride his bicycle everywhere.  

  • Turn the heat down low at night.  My grandparents' apartment was freeeeezzzzzing at night during the winter because their landlord would turn off the heat.  So, we bundled up, used extra blankets, and stayed quite cozy all night.   I'm not quite willing to turn our heat off at night (we live in New England!) but I do substantially lower it.  

  • Do things by hand.  Use a push mower to mow your lawn, a shovel instead of a snowblower, and a rake instead of a leaf blower.  

  • Dry your clothes on a clothesline.  My nonna used to do it year round - even during New York winters.  She'd bring wet laundry back from the laundromat and hang them on the clothesline outside her window.  

  • Clean your house with baking soda and vinegar.  

  • Garden and compost.   

  • Fix and repurpose things.  Our culture has become very wasteful in this respect.  Many people will just throw something out when it stops working instead of trying to repair it.  This goes from clothing to household items to electronics.  Instead, make them last or find a new use for them.   Sew up the holes in your clothes.   If you have a shirt that is beyond repair, upcycle it into a bag or pillow case.   There are lots of fun ways to upcycle things.

Did your grandparents unknowingly do lots of green things?  What kinds of things?