Saturday, April 4, 2009

Being Green is Not a New Concept

My Eco Friendly Grandma
Being “Green” may be a new term, but it is not a new concept...Ask my grandma.
By DeAnna Holman

Last year, the magazine I publish, Community Seeds Eco Magazine, sponsored The Threshing Bee at the Patrick Ranch in Durham (As we will this year).While at our booth, I met great people, had great conversations, and learned a great deal. One sweet woman came to our booth and was interested in the magazine. She shared with me ways she has been “green” for over 40 years. Over 40 years! How can that be? It got me thinking about my grandma, now 95, and how she has actually been being “green” ever since I can remember. Actually, before I can remember because she tells me her stories, true stories.

My grandma did so many things to be kinder to the earth. She would always turn off the water when brushing her teeth and she would never leave a light on in an empty room. I remember she had fruit trees in her backyard and she used “natural” ways to keep pests off. She did not have access to many chemicals and she wasn’t interested in them anyway. Granted, she was living in Los Angeles and the pest problem was minimal, but still it is noteworthy. I remember she would bury compostable items in her yard to make “mulch” and I thought that was odd. Now, I am making compost or “mulch” and people are writing about it for my magazine! I remember her telling me time and time again how coffee grounds were so good for her roses. She had a bowl near her kitchen sink for composting materials and come to think of it, she had very little waste at all.

If my grandma did not finish a glass of water, she would dump the rest into a house plant. She never had a dry, wilting plant in the house. Those house plants emitting oxygen in her house was just another way she was being green. She has the smallest carbon footprint of anyone I know. She has even taken public transit or walked all of her life. She has always thought there is no need to get a car if you live in a city. I always thought she was being frugal, but she was simply not being wasteful.

Perhaps having parents that were immigrants from Russia helped my grandmother to be more conscious of wastefulness. Or maybe it was because of WWII and the hardships faced. Everyone around her worked, they had to ration food and necessities, and no one was wasteful. People appreciated the smallest of things. It may seem like it was a complicated time, but there was no TV, no clutter, no fast-pace rat race and no, “what’s in it for me” attitude. It was innate to reduce, reuse and recycle. It was not a chore to be eco-friendly, it was a way of life... Yes, over 40 years ago!

We can learn so much about being “green” from our grandparents and their grandparents. It would certainly be worth while to interview them about the ways they were less wasteful. And, although I always chuckle when my grandma tears a napkin in half to use the other half later, I now appreciate that small gesture.

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