Green, Back in the Day and Today

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I received an email from my mother-in-law, and I enjoyed it.

She said she didn’t have the green thing back in her day.

Back then they returned their milk bottles, Coke bottles and beer bottles to the store.  They were recycled.  They walked up flights stairs, washed diapers, clothes dried on a line.  One TV where the family gathered, and served handmade food.  Packages were cushioned by newspaper, not Styrofoam.  Exercise was achieved at work, push mowers cut the lawn, and they drank from a fountain when thirsty.

Reminds me that my brothers wore Jimmy-me-downs and I rode my bike to school.

I think convenience was a key driver of change.  When producers of things sought to deliver the customer benefit of convenience, that is when things changed.

No, they didn’t have green back in the day, but I do think looking back can help us get green in our days today.

I have always championed reasonable behavior when it comes to going green and sustainable, I think.  So I thought I would share some things you can do in your lives.

First off, I think you need to find your passions, consistent with the way you live your life.  For instance, food scraps are the No. 1 thing we need to figure out how to remove from our waste stream, but telling a bachelor who eats out most nights to start composting is not a solution.

On the other hand, if you have the new IPad 2, then a good energy solution is to suggest you unplug devices once they are charged, or use a power strip so you can turn off many devices with one switch.

If you have not changed your light bulbs or fixed your leaky pipes, you need to focus on basic conservation solutions that will reduce consumption of resources.  Get ReUse Bags.  Inflate your tires.  Walk or ride your bike where you can.  If you were around when Jimmy Carter was president, you may already turn off the lights when you leave the room, and adjust thermostats.

I don’t like to preach, so I will tell you what I do, share some of the whys, and some hows.  The Great Recession has taught me behaviors, to act frugal, or cheap.  I print in fast draft mode, and use both sides of the paper before I recycle it.  I make things last longer, like my wallet.  My socks must have holes before I get new ones.  I avoid single-use bottles of water.  I am trying to set an example of green behavior with my kids, but have an herbless garden and a compostless bin.  I do ride my bike and walk.  I use cloth in the kitchen and old towels and t-shirts become my garage rags.  I try not to turn lights on as long as I can to enjoy natural light.  I try to be reasonable, not crazy green.

I suggest you plant a tree as it is good for the air, can keep you cool and increase property value.  If you run full loads of your dishwasher after 7 p.m. you will save energy and cost.  Pay your bills online.  If every home in the US did this we would save 18 million trees every year.  Watch the “Story of Stuff” with your kids, and talk about the impacts your household has on our landfills.  Buying local helps the local economy and choosing green reduces the energy associated with your purchases.  Buy Energy Star appliances, they are up to 40% more efficient.  Seek reasonable green that fits your lifestyle.

Reduce your junk mail.  Get off national mailing lists by sending your name, address, and signature to : Mail Preference Service, c/o Direct Marketing Association, P.O. Box 943, Carmel, NY 10512.  Visit for a Do It Yourself energy audit.

I think you should take a bath, even though it uses more water, if it cures what ails you.  Just make it up in some of your other green choices.

And, bottom line, although they did not have green back in the day, it is always a good exercise to think like our parents did, or behave like our grandparents.

Send Green thoughts to [email protected]

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