Green Living: Old-School is Cool Again
Technology may have made life easier, but it also stole our independence. If you want to go greener, look to your grandparents and great grandparents. Look to people who lived before automation.
Green living was cool before most of us were born.
My mother made her own soup from scratch which I thought was insanely brilliant. When I was a kid, frozen meals were brand new and were all the rage. Cooking from scratch was for poor people--which is where we fit in. Weren't we lucky?! We were better fed than the people eating those popsicle meals.
Mom was pretty good at stretching proteins, which is probably why we ate a lot of stews and casseroles. She used to scare me to death when she made fish soup though. Before every mouthful, she'd warn us to be careful for any stray fish bones or we'd choke to death. (Her words!) LOL! I'd eat my soup like a snail, my tongue feeling for any spiky bones. To this day, I won't eat fish soup. I love it, but I won't eat it.
My grandmother on the other hand was a real life wizard to my young eyes. She knew stuff, stuff even my own mother didn't know--or didn't practice.
We lived far away so we didn't visit often. When you're five years old and only see your grandma once a year, she becomes a mythical figure and I was too shy to interact with her. I watched her constantly though and I'm sure she knew it too. She was kind and never forced herself on me like some grandmas are wont to do.
One of my favorite things to do was to get up before dawn. Everyone else would be asleep, but my grandmother would be up before daylight. She'd be mixing dough, or warming the oven, or picking through her herbs.
My grandparents lived in Mexico which was hot and dry. By midday, my grandmother would be out washing her stone walkways of dust, or watering her garden. She'd hang clothes in the sun, or preserve whatever was in season. her kitchen always smelled wonderful. In the evening she'd be fitting someone for clothes she sewed herself. Looking back, I don't think I ever saw her resting. She was always busy.
One very distinct memory was of her slipping into a back room. It was like a mudroom to the kitchen. She had led a small goat back there. As an inquisitive child I watched in rapt awe as she pulled out a small knife and slit the goat by the jugular.
It was then my mother dragged me away, telling me that it was not appropriate for me to watch. In hindsight it was the wrong thing for her to do. I feel very strongly that all children should know where their food comes from. I've known grown people who can't comprehend that plastic wrapped ground beef once came from a live cow.
When children are too protected, we make them weak. I was glad I was able to make the connection between food and animals early on. It made me appreciate their sacrifice even more, which keeps me diligent for their care.
Our parents and grandparents lived in a different world than we do now. I'm glad I had the chance to experience life before computers and microwaves.
For well over sixty years, technology has marched forward and we've welcomed it every step of the way. But the pendulum is swinging back. We want to be greener. We want to leave a smaller carbon footprint. To do that, we have to rely less on greedy technology, and more on passive energy (and sometimes strong backs).
If there's a key to being greener, it's to use less, and be less dependent on automation.--Maria Zannini
• Dry your clothes on a line.
• Grow a garden, even if it's only in a pot.
• Eat local. Eat in season.
• Drive less. Because we live far from any good-sized city, we're always aware of how much we drive. For that reason, we try to run all our errands on one trip.
• Fix it. Try to fix something before you throw it out.
• Reuse the things around you. An old plant stand can become an outdoor drink table. Empty detergent tubs can be used as carry-alls, chicken nests, and storage containers. Punctured hoses can be shortened and refitted with new fittings for a fraction of the price of a new hose. T-shirts can become rags, or cut into strips to hold up trellised plants.
• Collect rainwater. When we lived in SE Texas I never thought about collecting water because it rained ALL-THE-TIME. But here, I'm always checking for rain so I can set my buckets out.
• Cook at home. Cooking is my least favorite task, but I do it every single day. It's smart money-wise and healthier than what you'll get in a restaurant. The only downside is that I'm the one who has to do all the work. 😒 Sometimes we eat out, but that's only when we're too far from home and hungry.
• Read. Our grandparents read all the time and then they shared what they read with friends and family.
• Go easy on electronics and electricity. Unless you're on alternative energy, go easy on your power usage. It's expensive, and it's not good for the environment.
• Watch less tv. That includes streaming on smart phones and tablets.
• Stay social. And I don't mean on social media. See people. Visit with friends. It's good for the soul and not very expensive if you plan ahead. Go potluck, or entertain at home. There's no law that says you have to visit friends at a restaurant where everyone would rather be on their phone than talk to you.
Sometimes I think people go out because they don't like their homes. I love my home. I work hard at making it homey and comfortable. I want it to be nicer than any restaurant or hotel because the beds are clean and the food is fresh.
So what do you remember most of your grandparents? Did you like seeing them? Do you love your home? What would you change if you could?