Those pre-baby boomers may have been conserving for different reasons than we do today. Conserving resources had a clear effect: it cost less and people wasted less as they got creative with what they already owned. Grandma’s efforts to conserve are good in any decade.
There is a large availability and convenience of cheap and disposable items, which adds up to a lot of waste and a lot of money down the drain in the long run.
A lot of good will come from learning from grandma’s (and grandpa’s!) old habits on sustainability.
Grandma loved leftovers
Current stats show that Americans throw out a third of their food. That would be enough to feed you about two days out of the week! That’s a lot of wasted food and a lot of wasted money.
Use your leftovers to make additional meals. You don’t have to just reheat and eat. Use leftovers with other ingredients you have to dress up your meals and make something new and creative.
Grandma wouldn’t have that. You save those leftovers and you eat them until they are gone.
To combat this food waste problem, pay close attention to what you buy. Planning your meals and shopping from a list will help make sure everything will get used.
Bring Grandma’s old school conservation methods into today’s world for better sustainability habits.
Grandma was a gardener
Today, each farmer feeds around 155 people. Compare that to 1960’s number of 26 people per farmer. What does that mean for you as the consumer? More and bigger environmental risks. What can we do today to fight against Big Agriculture? Make your own garden!
Victory gardens were started to promote conservation of resources for the war efforts. About 40% of vegetable needs were produced through these small victory gardens and it was great for sustainability. There were about 20 million of them.
Create a modern-day victory garden to help with sustainability in your own life. If it’s too much work, or you don’t have the greenest thumb, consider doing something on a smaller scale. Join a community garden or just plant one or two different herbs or veggies in pots.
Grandma knew how to sew
When you go shopping for new clothing, do you inspect the seams, lining, and button attachment to make sure everything is sturdy and durable? Chances are, probably not.
We don’t all need to learn how to sew, but we can be more conscious about our clothing when we buy it. Don’t look for cheap, trendy clothing that will soon contribute to more waste. Instead, look for durable clothing that will last you for years without needing to be replaced. Additionally, take care of your clothing. Treat stains as soon as they occur, shine your boots, fix thread snags, and repair missing buttons. Clothes that don’t fit right can be altered instead of being thrown out.
Grandma bought items that last
Our generation lives in an environment where everything is disposable. We replace our electronics every couple years, throw out clothing if it is holy or stained, and throw furniture to the curb when it breaks. More than half of millennials said they would be more willing to buy items that are made of environmentally friendly materials. Additionally, more than half also said they will often shop regardless of their needs. Compare that to less than a third of the older generations.
The generation of millennials already cares about the environment and they are willing to buy things that support causes. But not purchasing has power, too. You can defer some purchases when the need isn’t there and instead practice truly sustainable habits. When you’re sick of your couch, purchase a slipcover or have one made for you. Give your dining room table a fresh look by staining it.
What’s the main takeaway here? Use it all up, make do, fix it up, and wear it out. Take the wisdom from grandparents and the older generations on their sustainability habits.