Growing up, I never thought of my parents as “hip”. But it turns out that when it comes to being green, they were WAY ahead of their time! In fact, they were doing some of these things before there even WAS an Earth Day. Here are 10 ways to be green that I learned from my parents. (And bonus – they can also SAVE you tons of green!)
- Go cloth. Whether it’s diapers, napkins, towels, handkerchiefs, or even wipes, ditch the disposables and use the cloth version. Not only are they more durable, but they won’t clog up landfills.
- Let it all hang out. Clean laundry, that is. Hang a clothes line and let a warm, sunny day do the rest.
- Plant a garden. We had a small backyard. But there was still enough room to have some cherry tomato plants. There is definitely something to be said for being able to say, “Yeah, I grew that!”
- Leave the keys at home. Why drive when you can walk? Or ride a bike? Growing up in suburbia, we walked to school, the playground, and our friends’ houses. As we got older, we’d walk downtown, to the pool, or even up to the local mall.
- But if you have to drive…carpool. Or take public transportation. I think it was almost a prerequisite that to join a school activity, I had to either carpool or take the late bus. And I certainly remember many trips to the city aboard SEPTA.
- Pass it down. Back before craigslist or Freecycle, there was just plain hand-me-downs. I got them from my older cousin then we gave them back for my younger cousin. (That is, until she outgrew me and I started getting her hand-me-downs!) Oh, and the art of yard sales. Yeah, I learned that from my mom, too!
- Make it yourself. The crafting gene definitely came from my mom’s side of the family. My mom would take old clothes and fabric scraps and transform them into clothes for our Barbies and Cabbage Patch Kids. Old T-shirts became cleaning rags. Even meals and desserts were by and large homemade instead of pre-packaged.
- Turn it off. Every time I hear the words coming out of my mouth, I think of my mom. “Why are the lights on when no one is in the room?” “If no one is watching TV then it needs to be off!” Oh, these things irritate me more than nails down a chalkboard!
- Don’t be a litterbug. Trash belongs in trash cans. Period. And my mom still carries a bag with her whenever she goes for a walk. Mainly to pick up soda cans to bring to recycling (where they live now outside of St. Louis, recycling isn’t mandatory – *gasp*).
- Reduce, reuse, recycle. I can remember going to the recycling center in suburban Philly in the mid 80s and cashing in newspapers and cans. Back then it wasn’t mandatory and you actually got paid for it! In fact, my parents paid for my sister’s riding camp with recycling money. My mom remembers going to recycle centers in Rochester, NY in the early 70s. WAY ahead of her time!
What have you learned from YOUR parents (or grandparents)?