I will admit that my generation has been a bit hard on those before them. We tote around “green” initiatives and homesteading practices as if we’d invented them. But the truth is that while grandma might not always bring cloth bags to the grocery store and she doesn’t drive a Prius, we could learn plenty about being “green” from those who’ve gone before us.
Rewind about 70 years and you’ll see life was quite different on the home front. Backyard chickens were standard and planting a victory garden was seen as a patriotic duty. People made do with what they had or went without, simple as that. Many resources were donated to the war effort and so families lived conservatively in order to help those on the front lines. Canning, hand washed laundry, home brewing, homemade cleaners, etc. were common and most items were made to be reused (like pens, razors, handkerchiefs, plates, cups, etc). People often walked or biked to where they were going as well.
In the 1950s things started to change. Suburban life saw an explosion and convenience became king. We saw the invention of the supermarket, fast food, the TV dinner and disposable everything. Livestock and large gardens began to be replaced by industrial farming methods.
The back to the land movement in the 60s/70s was a wonderful reminder of time honored methods used during/before the Great Depression/World War II. But the movement focused on the country homestead and those looking to get back to the simple life were told they’d only find it away from suburbia; while those in the city fully retired from the old ways of doing things. This trend continued and today we have the big box store, drive thru almost everything, and glow in the dark food (I wish I was kidding about that one, but I’m not).
Now we find hippies have become boomers, and generation Y-ers have become hipsters. And often we get caught up playing the blame game when it comes to environmental responsibility. But the reality is that while technology and modern marketing have brought us many environmentally friendly things, the greenest items or practices are recycled from the past. They are the exact things our grandparents and great-grandparents did or used on a regular basis.
So yes, grandpa might not own a shirt made of organic cotton and great-grandma might not have solar panels on her home, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t teach us a thing or two about sustainable or simple living. So if you’re looking for more information about homesteading you might want to sit down with grandma for tea rather than turn to Google. You could end up learning how to be “green” like grandma.