Many people lived through earlier days when ‘plenty’ and ‘more, more, more’ were the catch-cries. Many oldies have forgotten how hard their parents had it going right back say, into the 1930s. My mother, for instance, had one doll and that, plus a ball and a hoop, were the only toys she had. Her younger brothers then made papier-maché puppets from recycled string and old newspapers for which my grandmother made clothes using her old treadle machine which I still have. The family was were resourceful, trading their glut garden foods for services or other products. They paid the ice man in eggs. No fridge, just a block of ice twice-daily and a well-insulated aluminium lined cork box.
We can learn a lot from our grandparents about being green. Staying healthy was important but being resourceful was equally so. Some of these ideas are listed under our recipes as well.
My grandmother did the following:
- Always used the stairs not an elevator.
- Planted the tops of pineapples and in 2 years they would bear fruit.
- Recycled pineapple skins & cores to make a delicious cordial.
- Ate porridge with fruit for brekky. Kept cholesterol at bay, and as an unquestioned habit, it controlled the day’s food intake. Trust me, you don’t get hungry for morning tea or snacks.
- Cut up all old clothes for other uses, starting with making little frocks for children, then patchwork quilts, cleaning rags and so on. Tatty stuff was put in a collection that was picked up by the rag & bone man to be recycled into paper.
- Wrapped a hot brick, heated in ambient heat leftover in the oven of their combustion stove, in a flannel instead of running room heating or an electric blanket.
- Made almost everything in their own house: bread, chocolate, coffee, pastries, cakes, meals, soap blocks that were used wherever detergents were required, garden sprays, honey, fertilizer, compost, many of their clothes simple to sew, floor rugs, blankets etc. etc.. You name it!
Entertained themselves. They read, learned things off by heart, played cards, charades and put on little plays when the family visited. Sang around the piano. There was no time in the day to feel ‘low’ or to be ‘allergic’ to anything. Children were not overfed and therefore, lacked the excess sugar to stimulate them into bad behaviour. Though my older brother did chop their garden hose up with a tomahawk claiming it was an anaconda…. And frequently dared me to jump off the top of the water tank (which I did). But mischief was relatively innocent in the olden days.
- Learned and practiced handcrafts and skills done by hand and without the aid of machines.
- Took long and leisurely walks.
- Wrote copious letters to family, friends and politicians.
- Waxed the furniture till it gleamed.
- Maintained silver cutlery. Well, that’s something easy these days as the younger generation seems to have dumped lots of it into op shops.
- Drank from smaller cups and ate from smaller plates.
- Grew veges and had chooks.
- Didn’t bother with a car much. Walking was good enough and the bus system did the rest.
- Took part in the community by helping people down on their luck but without making them feel like charity cases.
- Resisted the need to have the ‘latest’ of anything. They didn’t replace anything unless it had been mended over and over again and was rendered unmendable.
- Stayed fit and healthy chopping wood for the combustion stove.
- Kept their teeth in good nick with almonds and macadamias grown in their garden.
- Swam in the sea as often as they could.
- Kept the family together despite living in another state. Christmases were a blast!
These were just a few of the way they remained green!
As grandparents they spent many a day passing on their skills and interests. There were no facelifts, hairdye or other cosmetic enhancements. Life was natural and robust and we, as their grandchildren, loved the fact that they showed us how good it could be to live that way.
Of course, here I am at my computer, but I no longer bother with a mobile phone and try to keep consumption to a minimum.