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On May 22, 2012 09:39AM ET in Green 101
EDITOR’S NOTE: EACH TUESDAY MY GREEN SIDE BRINGS SIMPLE TIPS FOR GREEN LIVING TO THE CHRISTOPHER GABRIEL PROGRAM. WE ALSO HIGHLIGHT A FAVORITE GREEN SITE EACH WEEK. YOU CAN STREAM THE SEGMENT AT APPROXIMATELY 1220PM (CENTRAL) EVERY TUESDAY AT WDAY.COM OR, IF YOU’RE IN NORTH DAKOTA OR WESTERN MINNESOTA, LISTEN ON YOUR RADIO AT AM970 WDAY.
Since we’re celebrating the 90th Anniversary of WDAY 970 AM, I wanted to look at sustainability from a different perspective, from the perspective of the early 1900’s.
“Green” living may seem like a relatively new movement, but the concepts behind it are not new. Here’s a look at some practical, frugal, thoughtful things that people during that time were doing on a day-to-day basis:
- Returning empty bottles to get back their deposit (recycling).
- Reusing everything. Our ancestors wouldn’t throw away anything they thought they could use again.
- Harvesting rainwater. Collecting rainwater is a great way to reduce your water bill while conserving one of our most precious resources. According to Mother Nature Network, a rain barrel will save most homeowners about 1,300 gallons of water during the peak summer months.
- Hanging clothes out to dry. Our clothes dryers use a lot of electricity especially compared to the old low-tech option – the clothesline. Clothes dryers have come a long way in energy efficiency over recent years, but the average home clothes dryer has a carbon footprint of about 4.4 lbs. of carbon dioxide per load of laundry. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, “the biggest way to cut the environmental impact of cleaning clothes is to stop using a clothes dryer.”
- Growing their own food, preserving their harvest, saving their seeds and making their own food. Victory Gardens were very popular during World War II, but even before that, people relied on their organic backyard gardens to supply their fruits and vegetables. And when you grow your own food, you’re less likely to let anything go to waste. Back in the day, produce was dried or canned to create a winter food stock.
- Buying second hand. Today we can use garage sales, Craigslist, Freecycle and swap meets to find gently-used items we might need. By shopping second-hand, we can reduce the waste associated with the production, packaging and shipping of new products.
- Making their own clothes from natural not synthetic materials.
- Mending their clothes when they wore out then, when mending wasn’t an option, using the material to make quilts or cleaning rags.
- Mending their shoes when they wore out.
- In general, the trend was to fix things when they wore out or broke, not throw them in a landfill and buy a new one.
- People used and reused cloths for dusting and cleaning. They also made their own cleaning products out of non-toxic household items like baking soda, white vinegar, soap and water.
Fun tip from the Old Farmer’s Almanac (1914):
A room or house containing a fireplace that has been unused for a long stretch of time will sometimes start to have a sooty odor from drafts circulating through the house. To freshen up the air crumple old newspapers, put them in the fireplace, and sprinkle ground coffee on top of the newspapers. Light a fire and allow it to burn.
The coffee scent will clear the sooty odor and you won’t be breathing in the neurotoxins commonly found in commercial air fresheners.
Another great tip:
Save your cooking water. When you prepare pasta, potatoes or other vegetables, don’t pour the hot water down the drain. Remove the food with tongs or a slotted spoon and when the water has cooled use it to water your house plants or save it in a large container to take out to your garden later.
The phrase “Waste not, want not” from back then has today become “Reduce, reuse, recycle.”
My Green Side’s web pick of the week:
Frugally Sustainable is a site full of tips and information about being frugal and living a sustainable life because usually the two go hand-in-hand. You’ll find tips on making your own natural remedies, gardening, recipes and more. “It’s about returning to forgotten skills, reviving old wisdom, creating something amazing, and finding happiness”.
“Home is where the great change will begin. It is not where it ends.” ~Shannon Hayes, Radical Homemakers