Monday, December 5, 2011
Living as our grandparents did
I’ve never really thought of myself as ‘green’, more ‘old-fashioned’. But the more I research, the more I’m convinced they are almost the same thing. I was reading this article in a great new magazine I have out from the library:
Living Lightly and Saving Money
The article compiles many ways our ancestors went about life and were thrifty in the process. In the eighties we went away from this in favour of conspicuous consumption. Thank goodness thrift is back in vogue again.
Aside from the saving money aspect, I feel disrespectful if I waste food or throw away something that could have been used by someone else. In fact I just can’t do it. When we were moving I drove my husband nuts, sifting through everything we were decluttering, figuring out where it could be donated to.
As much as I love those decluttering programmes on tv, it really upsets me to have the solution be a big skip outside, where everything is thrown in. If an item is in good, usable, clean, unbroken condition there is always someone who could use it that otherwise might not have the chance. I think it is our duty as a caring human being to try and find that person, via thrift shops, to charities that assist others or simply directly, by asking around.
Other ways I am like our grandparents?
I scrubbed our kitchen floor and entrance-way with hot water and sugar soap not long after we moved in (it was pretty filthy). Strongly-scented floor cleaners aren't for me. Normally I use hot water, white vinegar and a squirt of lemon dishwash. A few drops of essential oil are added if I'm in the mood. And I hang washing outside. And cook many of our meals from scratch.
Even when eating, the question could be asked ‘would my Grandparents recognise this food?’ when choosing what to eat. The world’s population would be a much healthier place if we ate according to this.
Many of the things listed in the article I do, and they were originally done in the name of thrift or making do. This is what I do! And now it’s green! I do these things to make the most of my resources, and also because I feel disrespectful to the Universe if I waste things.
I simply cannot throw something in the rubbish if it can be used by someone else (so I donate it) and I feel terribly guilty if I throw out food. If it’s vegetation I throw out I feel bad that the Universe grew it for me and I wasted it. Even more guilt is felt if it’s meat or eggs I throw out. An animal died (or laid) for me and I can’t even be bothered to appreciate it?
As a result I throw out practically nothing. I honestly can’t remember the last time I threw out food. If I don’t eat something as leftovers for lunch the next day (like our creamy chicken and mushroom pasta from tonight, which I’ll have with salad for lunch tomorrow), I will tuck it in the freezer to have another day. If it’s something like a small piece of blue cheese or half a chopped onion, I will freeze to include in a casserole or soup.
Another aspect of living like our grandparents did is mending something if it’s broken. There is much satisfaction to be gained from utilising our grey matter and working out how we can fix a problem. My sister was telling me today how she hemmed a pair of jeans shorter, and in the process used the excess denim to almost invisibly patch a hole in the knee. Result: one ‘new’ pair of jeans which are currently receiving a lot of wear.
I understand not everyone sews, but really, in the olden days it was just something you did. If one is really interested in living a thrifty life, at least knowing how to sew on buttons, hand-stitch a hem or sew up a small hole is mandatory.
Reading instead of tv watching, going for a stroll after dinner, eating real food, being a good steward of our finances, appreciating nature, growing herbs or even vegetables, making things with our hands: these are all ways we can enjoy life by living as our grandparents did.