“As you are now, so once we were.” - James Joyce
Wisdom passed down to us from our grandparents is an invaluable gift. They can teach us how to take care of our planet with a little more compassion, and, in turn, we can pass on some tips and tricks to our elders! Sharing knowledge goes both ways. Together we can live greener lives and hopefully leave the planet a better place for future generations.
Making It Last
We live in a throwaway culture. We should take cues from our grandparents’ generation, and when something breaks, fix it: mend clothes, sew buttons, fix electronics, get replacement parts, lids and clips to keep things tickin’. It’s a good thing we have YouTube tutorial videos! With a couple of keywords, you can click to learn anything on there.
Old Habits Die Hard
Before our generation had this newfound interest in eco-living and eco-friendly products, our grandparents produced less waste simply through the way they lived. Taking care of belongings, saving money through reuse and conservation, and a genuine belief that things are meant to last inherently cut down their carbon footprints.
Many of our grandparents cleaned strictly with vinegar and baking soda. We’re learning these days anew that these non-toxic cleaning items can be used to clean surfaces, rugs, the dog, and even unclog a sink!
Washing by hand and hanging clothes on the line quickly reduces energy and extends the longevity of your wardrobe. You can call these green cleaning practices “good ole fashioned common sense” or the “art of eco laundry” -- up to you!
Embrace minimalist living by cutting down on products, clothing, and any excess clutter. Need help with decluttering? Check your local library for “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo.
Teach Your Elders Well
Listening goes both ways. Now it’s time for the youngins to chime in with some 21st Century tips. No doubt that living an eco-friendly lifestyle requires a toolkit as well as a bunch of savvinesses. Our world is a-changin’, so let’s spread the eco-friendly love across the generations and pass on a few new-fangled tricks to our elders.
Eco-Friendly = Ocean Friendly!
Reducing plastic use at home directly affects our own health as well as the ocean. Other eco-friendly tips include checking products like sunscreen for toxins such as oxybenzone and added fragrances that damage the ocean and her reefs as well as replacing plastic straws with metal or bamboo.
Eliminating plastic also benefits those with a compromised immune system, which can often include the elderly.
ABCs of Recycling
Recycling can be tricky. Some things look like recyclable but are actually mylar, such and snack packs, so they need to be trashed. Other stuff like greasy pizza boxes are made from paper, but they actually need to be composted, not recycled. Plastic bags can sometimes be recycled curbside if they’re stuffed in a bag altogether, but other times you have to hunt down a collection center at a local grocery store.
Pop online with your elders and find the specific recycling rules and regs for your grandparents’ hometown or retirement community.
We all know a picture is worth a thousand words, so try to find a chart online to post next to your elders’ recycling bins. Or as a fun project, the grandkids can make some artsy labels to attach to the bins, so there’s no forgetting what goes where.
Home is Where the Eco Heart is
Embrace cooking at home and packing food to go in reusable containers, not throwaways -- just as our grandparents did. Cut down on food waste and packaging by using scraps to make broths and soups. Reconfigure leftovers into a whole new meal. Eating out increases packaging waste and gas emissions.
Shop smarter, put together a solid pantry full of staples, and master the arts of canning and pickling. Grow a garden -- even a small herb garden -- to cut down on food costs and get closer to nature.
Say goodbye to unnecessary plastics such as the broken-down Tupperware containers that are likely leaching BPA and other toxins. Strategically replace them with stainless steel ECOlunchboxes or glass containers. And let your grandparents know they can use tare weights in their ECOlunchbox products so they can be used at the deli counter or in the bulk food.
By working together across ages, our lives bloom a little greener. Celebrate lessons learned from our grandparents and share what you know. Doing this creates an everlasting bond between generations, and between ourselves and the planet.