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our grandparents and frugality-the green thing as a way to reduce -  RSS feed

 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Location: Missoula, MT
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From an e-mail forward:

In the line at the store, the cashier told the older woman that she should bring her own grocery bag because plastic bags weren't good for the environment. The woman apologized to him and explained, "We didn't have the green thing back in my day."

The clerk responded, "That's our problem today. The former generation did not care enough to save our environment."

He was right, that generation didn't have the green thing in its day.

Back then, they returned their milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.

But they didn't have the green thing back in that customer's day.

In her day, they walked up stairs, because they didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. They walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time they had to go two blocks.

But she was right. They didn't have the green thing in her day.

Back then, they washed the baby's diapers because they didn't have the throw-away kind. They dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts - wind and solar power really did dry the clothes. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But that old lady is right; they didn't have the green thing back in her day.

Back then, they had one TV, or radio, in the house - not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief, not a screen the size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen, they blended and stirred by hand because they didn't have electric machines to do everything for you. When they packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, they used a wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

Back then, they didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. They used a push mower that ran on human power. They exercised by working so they didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she's right; they didn't have the green thing back then.

They drank from a fountain when they were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time they had a drink of water. They refilled their writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and they replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

But they didn't have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or rode the school bus instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. They had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And they didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful the old folks were just because they didn't have the green thing back then?


I do think it's interesting how our "green washing" makes it seem people are environmentally virtuous if they take reusable bags to the store, but still drive everywhere in gas guzzlers, still use their clothes dryers, and on and on.

I'm not as truly environmentally virtuous as I'd like to be, but I keep making changes where I can. Most of these "green thing" changes save money, too (hence the frugality post). Like line-drying instead of using the dryer - that, combined with hand-washing dishes, cut 40% off my power bill!

My Grandma still wraps gifts in the comics pages of the newspaper. I received an online order with a bunch of brown kraft paper as the filler and it smoothed out nicely as gift wrap one Christmas. What other ways do you save money by doing a "green thing?"
 
paul wheaton
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Back then, they returned their milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.


I'm pretty sure that would qualify as "re-use", which is way better than recycle.

 
John Polk
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"Back then", you could go into any department store (five and dime) and buy a pattern to make shirts, blouses, etc.  When a shirt had outlived its useful life, the buttons were cut off and saved for the next item.  The remaining cloth was used as a cleaning cloth.  Of course, most of today's synthetic cloth would be useless for that purpose.
 
Suzie Browning
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Location: Southwestern Ohio
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Maybe not something I learned from grandparents, but my focus presently is on reducing my consumption of plastic and replacing plastic items with ones made from wood, metal or glass, as they need replaced.  And I try to find those things previously owned.

I was proud of myself the other day when asked if I wanted a (plastic) tray to carry some plants in, I said no thanks, that's one less thing I will have to deal with at home.
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
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Summer; Open doors and windows in early morning hours when it is 65 degrees.  Close all doors windows and curtains as soon as outside temps reach 70 degrees.  I work a very strange work sched so I can do this about half the week.

Winter, Open all curtains and let sun shine through glass, including storm doors during the day – heats much more than one might think.

Compost everything that will degrade including junk mail and natural fiber clothing.  Saves us the fuel that we would use driving it to the dump, provides compost for the property, saves the burden on landfills.  (yes, I’ve heard all of the issues with ink and colors in junk mail- I think the benefit outweighs the cost – It is going somewhere – my property or our landfill).

Brush teeth with baking soda – but I just saw the post here on making toothpaste – gotta try that.

Wash my body with baking soda.  Due to severe skin problems I had to eliminate all soaps on my skin.  Now I scrub only with baking soda, Epsom or sea salt, or grape and olive oil.  Not only is my skin in fantastic shape (for an old lady) but I am saving money and am eliminating use of chemicals and packaging in my toiletries.

Grey water from my washing machine, also intend to eventually do the same for my sinks, bath and shower.  I have a Willow, Hydrangeas, and Japanese Maple that are loving the whole grey water idea.

I guess I could go on and on but I would love to hear what others are doing.  Great thread Jocelyn.
 
T. Joy
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Walk, bike and bus, I don't know how to drive or have a license. When we car it is, obviously, car pool for long distance travel or errands only.
I do not fly. I have been in an airplane 4 times in my life and hope to get away with only a couple more plane trips to far away places. I took the bus with a 3 year old 3000 miles once, it was fun.
I sew, make, alter and mend our clothes, make old clothes into useful items, use "garbarge" fabric to create useful things to sell.
I don't cook much, we eat most food raw and whole. Saves on energy in the kitchen, processing for boxed stuff (which we hardly buy) etc. We buy as much local food as possible.
We shop almost exclusively at the thrift store, looking around the house here it's difficult to find many items that were purchased new.
For entertainment we get together with friends for meals and to play cards. Just costs the energy to make popcorn for a snack when we do that.
No air con, that is so unhealthy. Unless it's really, incredibly, unbearably hot I don't think that is reasonable to use just for "comfort".
We've been gradually and consistently down-sizing our lives so that we live in smaller and smaller apartments with less and less stuff and spend more and more time together as a family playing board games, making crafts, walking the neighbourhood and connecting with each other and ourselves.
We do yoga, we eat a healthy diet, we sleep enough (usually) and take good care of ourselves so we don't need doctor visits or medicine.

My mom taught me the value of frugality, resourcefulness and care of the earth at a young age. I hope I'm passing that along to my kids in a way they will carry with them for life. I think I am..
 
Jake Scelsa
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First post! just joined this morning and im really loving this site. excellent job paul i made my way here through youtube vids. Im only 26 and i really do get discusted by wasteful people. I work as a union carpenter and the construction industry on a commercial level is terribly wasteful. the construction equipment guzzles energy plus all the hazardous wasted material that ends up in landfills. I was on a job 2 summers ago where every worker on the job(and there were over 2000 it was a very large new hospital being constructed) would sit inside of their gas guzzling trucks at lunch with the AC blasting. This was very upsetting to me. i would just shake my head and go sit in the shade with my folding chair. Ok off topic but i feel shitty about my career being wasteful and environmentally damaging.

The best ways im frugal is to reuse and recycle. 2 good examples..my compost bins are made from pallets that i got FREE from a local lumber yard. and just this morning i contacted a baker who is going to save his 3.5 gal buckets for me to start worm composting..also free. contacting businesses is an excellent way to reuse things that will otherwise be tossed and for free to boot. of course working in construction i take as much lumber plywood and whatever else i can get my hands on before that ends up in a landfill. And im an avid scrapper. im always scanning curbsides for scrap metal to recycle AND make a small profit. scrapping is a smart easy way to make a few bucks and do the right thing. my next door neighbor had an old swing set that was just rusting in her yard. she knows i recycle metal and asked me to take it apart for her and haul it out. i made money, recycled an old rusty swing set that was just sitting there, and did a favor for a sweet old woman.
 
Miles Flansburg
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Jocelyn, I must be your Grandma's age cuz I always wrap my kids presents in newspaper!
 
S Carreg
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Location: De Cymru (West Wales, UK)
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I've been wrapping gifts in newspaper for years! I mend clothes, and then when they're really unuseable, I cut them up for rags, or use them for making rag rugs or stuffing cushions. I make as much clothing as I can, or adapt things from jumble sales - and most thrift stores actually sell most of their donations to the rag man, but will sell you a big garbage bag full for peanuts, so I use those and adapt for out use. I never knew my grandmother, but my mother laughs that it must be genetic - she didn't teach me but I'm doing all the stuff my grandmother did. Including washing out plastic bags and tin foil for reuse, anything 'disposable' gets reused ie plastic milk bottles saved and cut in half for plant pots. When we moved into our house a few months ago there was lots of 'rubbish' around, I've used most of it - plastic offcuts of bathroom ceiling cladding became a new roof for the duck house. When all the 'rubbish' is gone I will have to source building materials from off-site, oh no!
Every time I can food or darn a sock I think about both my grandmothers, the skills they must have had and the circumstances that meant they *had* to be frugal and green. I think of my mother's generation as a blip in consumerism that I'm trying to correct.
 
John Polk
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I once took a load in my truck to the dump. They would weigh you when you came in, and when you left.
The truck weighed more when I left. LOL

 
michele rainer
Posts: 8
Location: rural S.E ohio
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hello everyone! this is my first post, although i think ive read half the threads on this site (j/k) any way, i am 29 and we grew up very...frugal (aka-poor)
but im sure glad i learned so much and how to "make do" from my parents, and grandparents. my grandma used to save wrapping paper, folding it neatly
and reusing it later, when i was little, i refused to rip my gifts so i could save my paper! we shop from trift stores whenever possible. we have always canned
our food, as much as possible, and im so glad for that now, as i have gotten older and learned of all the chemicals in prepackaged food and general
unhealthiness of it. we always had a wringer washer and hung clothes out to dry, and i learned how to mend and quilt and reuse until nothing was left but thread.
i have 2 small children and one on the way. prices only go up and my monetary resources keep going down, so alot of this so called "lost art" of living frugally has
truly kept us going strong for awhile now .
 
Dayna Williams
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Location: Zone 8, Western Oregon
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Welcome, Michele! I grew up in full-on consumerism (I'm 27), so those of you who remember the old ways to save things and be frugal are my most valuable resource! Thanks for the good ideas. It seems that as the economy gradually returns to a more sustainable normal after the crazy, cheap-oil-fueled boom of the last 50 years, people will have to return to the old skills to survive.

Just wanted to recommend "The American Frugal Housewife" by Lydia Maria Francis, published in 1802, to anyone looking for a firsthand account of frugal living before cheap oil. Some parts are obviously dated and not as useful (like, I can't recycle feed bags into curtains anymore, because my feed comes in paper bags), but many sections are still very applicable, especially to those living off the grid. It's available as a PDF online, I believe, if you google it.
 
John Polk
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Here is the 1832 reprint of "The American Frugal Housewife"
 
Sunshine McCarthy
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I bring mason jars to the health food store, for bulk items. I use a dry erase marker to write the ter (Package weight) on the lid and the item code. Saves me from using their plastic bags, and the food is already in its storage container when I get home. Some great ideas in this thread I'll have to start using.
 
Dan Grubbs
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Speaking of reusing ... I've been the very happy recepient of several of my father-in-law's hand-me-downs. A few weeks ago my wife and I were visiting him in South Dakota and he was purging things from his garage and he asked if I was interested in a number of his hand tools. ABSOLUTELY!!! I am so happy that in a mix of about a dozen hand tools were two rusted genuine TrueTemper No. 2 scoop shovels. Once I go them home, I got out my wire brass brush on my drill and buffed away the rust, sharpened the edges and oiled them up really heavily to help refurbish them. Here's a before and after set of photos. But, my point is that there are lots of people willing to part with what they think is no good anymore and with just a bit of elbow grease, we can make them like new again and useful for another person's lifetime. I feel very lucky, indeed. Going now go out to the shop and refurbish the 8lb hammer, bow rake, Pulaski and several other assorted light-weight tools and spare handles. I'm a blessed man.
scoop1.JPG
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scoop3.JPG
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scoop5.JPG
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Dan Grubbs
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Funny thing ... I posted some photos of my shovels and it sparked a debate about using oil on the metal. The debate was that I should never use petroleum products on these shovels if they are going to be used in food production and I agree. But, then the debate was about what oil to use: mineral vs. vegetable. Note, we're not talking about the handle, which I would always use boiled linseed oil on wood tool handles and no varnish or poly finishes.

What say you, permies, and why? What should we be oiling our shop and garden tools with?

 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Hi Dan, fantastic pics of refurbishing a tool! I'm not sure if you've had any good replies to what oil is best to use for the metal part of tools. I'm thinking that's an awesome topic for the homestead gear forum.

Just ran across this diagram on FaceBook from The Story of Stuff folks and thought it fit in here.
buyerarchy_of_needs.jpg
[Thumbnail for buyerarchy_of_needs.jpg]
 
I child proofed my house but they still get in. Distract them with this tiny ad:
2017 Rocket Mass Heater Workshop Jamboree - 15 workshops in one event
https://permies.com/wiki/63312/permaculture-projects/Rocket-Mass-Heater-Workshop-Jamboree
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