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My last diary I got some pushback when I mentioned in the comments that often elderly people don't get it when it comes to zero waste and being green.  There were responding comments listing how green life used to be, when those elderly people were young.

My response to that is hell yes, and let's go back to those times.  Because something happened in the 70's, 80's and 90's to make most of those people totally forget the way they had grown up and lived their early lives.  And we desperately need that spirit to come back to our communities.

So this diary will be not so strictly focused on zero waste, but on the frugal, green, and non-wasteful ways of living before the 1970's came along and started us on our current bloated lifestyle.  I've been kicking it old school for quite a while now, and will share my tips, along with the larger back to the future energy taking over the green movement.

First I'd like to post a comment by sailmaker from my last diary.  I'm sure it was posted kindly, but the language does seem to encourage elderly people to resent the green movement.  I'd be very curious to know who started this viral meme, since it seems to encourage treehugger prejudice.

Almost makes one wish for the good old days...

In the line at the  store, the cashier told the older woman that she should bring her own grocery  bag because plastic bags weren't good for the environment.

The woman apologized to him and explained,
"We didn't have the green thing back in my day."

The clerk responded, "That's our problem today.  The former generation did not care enough to save our environment."

He was right,  that generation didn't have the green thing in its day.

Back then, they  returned their milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled,  so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.

But they didn't have the green thing back in that customer's day.

In her day, they walked up stairs, because they didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. They walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time they had to go two blocks.

But she was right. They didn't have the green thing in her day.

Back then, they washed the baby's diapers because they didn't have the throw-away kind. They dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts - wind and solar power really did dry the clothes. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But that old lady is right, they didn't have the green thing back in her day.

Back then, they had one TV, or radio, in the  house - not a TV in every room.
And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief, not a screen the size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen, they blended and stirred by hand because they didn't have electric machines to do everything for you.When they packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, they used a wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

Back then, they didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. They used a push mower that ran on human power. They exercised by working so they didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she's right, they didn't have the green thing back then.

They drank from a fountain when they were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time they had a drink of water. They refilled their writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and they replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

But they didn't have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. They had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And they didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out  in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful the old folks
were just because they didn't have the green thing back then?

So I'd like to take back this meme and say that generally the old ways are the best ways, particularly if someone is trying to save money and be green at the same time, the way I am now being partially unemployed.  If we all lived like we did in the Thirties, Forties and Fifties, the world would be in much better shape, environmentally speaking, particularly if we also had the environmental regulations of the Sixties and Seventies reining in corporate pollution (individual waste and pollution got worse during that time).  

Unfortunately the target audience of that cleverly written email have generally collectively forgotten the lessons they learned in green, frugal living when they were young.  Of course there are many exceptions to this, and I'm sure I will be hearing in the comments that the old ways have not been forgotten!  And certainly we have a strong DFH contingent here at dailykos who have also stayed green.

The thing that irks me the most about the email was the bafflement of the elderly lady about the concept of reusable bags.  Exhibit A:


Not only did women in the Forties use reusable bags, they crocheted them themselves!  And they are the very same bags that are frequently being used today by greenies.  So the writer of that meme was being disingenuous, or implying that old people couldn't remember very well.

The other thing that yanks my chain about the email was how it insinuates these green practices are locked in the past.  Some still are, due to infrastructure changes.  We currently do not have a robust public transportation system, systemically bought up and dismantled by the automotive industry decades ago, that would allow most of us to take public transportation to work and to run errands.  I am fortunate in that I live in a town (and a house) built in the Forties and Fifties, so if I do find the right job I could take the commuter rail to work, and there is still a walkable town center with shops.  However, with my obsession with buying bulk organic food, driving to Whole Foods is still a necessity with me.  My local grocer does have organic, but it's ridiculously expensive.

It would take minor changes for someone like me to follow "walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time they had to go two blocks."  Get rid of non-organic and GMO farming practices and I could do that, particularly if the buses ran more frequently to make it convenient to take them.  But many of us trapped in suburbia do not have that option.  The wealthy suburb my ex-husband lives in only has homes.  The "downtown" area of the town has a tiny boutique grocery store, a gas station and a deli/diner.    There are no buses, and the center of town is miles away from most of the homes.  Worst of all, there aren't even any sidewalks.  Walking is a very dangerous option.  So while "people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service," would be possible where I live, if the public schools weren't so horrible and the buses ran more often, it's an impossibility where my children go to school.  The denizens of that suburb go double the speed limit in their SUV's on those narrow, narrow roads with no sidewalks, and everything is miles apart.  I had to drive an hour each way to get my daughter to her soccer game yesterday.  That suburb needs to be given back to the deer and rabbits and wild turkeys that still roam the place, and be remade as the farmland and woodland that it was forty years ago.

So those particular pieces of the meme are very doable with some tweaks in some places like mine, but other farflung overbuilt "modern" suburbs will simply have to be abandoned once Peak Oil hits.

Most of the rest of the meme is doable now, and I am doing those things, and I encourage those reading to try some of them, both to save money and avoid waste.

I buy milk in reusable bottles with a hefty deposit and I return them.  Anyone who drinks soda is nuts, with all the science about how bad it is for you.  Wine and beer I would definitely also return bottles if we had a winery or brewery nearby that accepted them.

As for stairs and escalators, I disagree with the meme.  I think skyscrapers are a rather green thing if it allows more people to take public transportation to get to their jobs, by having condensed office buildings.  And you do need elevators for very tall buildings.  Mall escalators and the malls they are in, on the other hand, I would be glad to see go, and I think with this recession their days are numbered.  The only time I go to the mall is to purchase Origins makeup (they recycle all makeup containers so my makeup is zero waste).

When my kids were younger it was very handy having a washing machine in the basement.  But since it broke and with me only having my kids on the weekend, I take our clothes to the laundromat once a week.  Usually I get by with one load in a triple-load machine, cold water wash using a spoonful of Cold Water Tide and a Wonder Ball.  I bring the wet clothes home and hang up on the line on my back porch and on the three drying racks down in my basement.  Sometimes in the middle of winter I will use the laundromat dryers.

My children get many hand-me-downs, particularly my younger daughter, and I shop at thrift stores for children's clothes and my clothes too.

I have one television that is twenty years old and one radio.  My TV screen isn't the size of a handkerchief, but it's not much bigger than the ones from the Sixties.

I do not own an electric mixer.   I mix and stir by hand, although I do have a hand blender for things that need to be pureed.  When I mail a fragile item, I use some of the styrofoam peanuts my mom has used to send me things over the years.

I have a manual push mower.

I do belong to a health club, and I think that's an improvement over the old days.  Many of us have desk jobs and don't have the opportunity to get exercise during the day, and I don't think that will change back.  On the other hand, it's only ten dollars a month, and I try to shower there to save on hot water back home.  So while it may not be green, it certainly is frugal.

Alas, public drinking fountains and public amenities in general are under threat.  It is truly a shame that we have lost the collective spirit of the Fifties and Sixties where money was more freely spent on parks, playgrounds, libraries, public pools, campgrounds and other communal benefits that rich and poor could both enjoy.  

I have three steel Kleen Kanteens that I refill with filtered tap water, one each for my girls and me in different colors.  I have pens with disposable inserts rather than disposable pens.  I also do have a fountain pen and bottled ink, but it is impractical to carry around as it leaks, so I only use it to write letters.  I highly recommend switching back to a safety razor that takes razor blades, and using a badger bristle brush and soap to make a lather.  Cartridge razors, or even worse disposable razors give a much worse shave and cost so much more money.  You just need to do research on quality double-edged razor blades.  I believe the big razor companies deliberately make their razor blades substandard to encourage consumers to buy the much more expensive cartridge blades.  I do know that the steel Merkur razor I use will last me for the rest of my life.

The last part of the meme, "They had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And they didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint."  I live in an old house built in the Fifties so I am living the dream.  :)  Still, while I think the Internet and computers are truly valuable and help people to be more green (finding the nearest pizza joint saves gas driving around) and my girls love our Playstation2, I don't have a cellphone (just one landline telephone) and I don't have a microwave oven.  I have one window air conditioner and one very large fan.  I do have a dishwasher, toaster oven, slow cooker, bread machine and a George Foreman grill that I use in the summer out on my back porch, but all of those appliances end up saving energy.  Sometimes modernity is a good thing when it comes to being green.  However, I will say that the best cooking tool I have for being green is definitely old school--I use my Fagor pressure cooker all the time.  When you eat a lot of fresh vegetables, a good pressure cooker is indispensable.  It is even more handy with making soup stock, a zero waste staple.  Modern pressure cookers like Fagor make pressure cooking much less scary, no risk of exploding food.

There are other old school practices I've adopted.  I keep the heat down and bundle up in the winter and I dress for the weather in summer and use fans as much as possible rather than air conditioning.  I have insulated curtains that I open and close with the sun.  I take my shoes to the cobbler when they are worn instead of throwing them away and buying new.  In general I repair whenever I can, rather than replace.

I've written about this before--I've tried as much as possible to get rid of disposable goods.  I use microfiber cloths and dish towels instead of paper towels, dish cloths and a wooden dish brush instead of plastic sponges, a steel waterproof tiffin instead of disposable plastic lunch containers, handkerchiefs instead of tissues, washable makeup pads instead of cotton (except for nail polish remover), a mooncup  (okay, that's a Seventies hippy thing) and French canning jars, Pyrex containers, and old Corningware for food storage.  I make my own cleaning products from vinegar, vegetable oil, liquid Castile soap and other natural ingredients.

The biggest change has been with food.  And this is definitely old school.  The cookbooks I use the most are from the Forties, because they have recipes for the food I have, and the recipes are frugal and nourishing.  I used to buy food every week just to last me until the next week, and I bought lots of processed and pre-prepared foods.  Now my shopping and cooking are completely different, the way people used to shop and cook.  I get my meat from my butcher (from local, grass-fed cows and chickens).  I get my produce delivered to my home from my local organic CSA.  When I shop at the grocery store, I bring my own containers and shop in the bulk sections.  I pretty much only buy food with one ingredient now.  Instead of bread I buy flour and yeast.  Instead of pasta sauce I buy canned tomatoes (Muir Glen--no BPA).  I do have a couple processed food vices--I get organic boxed mac and cheese for my kids, they prefer it over homemade, and I do buy non-organic ramen (I throw out the flavoring package and make it with my homemade chicken broth).    But generally I buy things like dried beans, sugar, butter, olive oil, tahini, salt, chocolate, tuna, oatmeal, rice, coconut oil, wine--items where the name of the food is the ingredient list.  Instead of buying week to week, I have enough of everything on hand to last for a month, and then I have the freedom to shop the sales.

That's an important green thing we have lost in the last eighty years--the importance of the housewife.  Cooking like this is a lot of work, and it's valuable work contributing both to better health and a healthier pocketbook.  Being poor may have forced this on me, but I am finding that even though I can't afford to go out and do the recreational things I could do five years ago, that I am enjoying spending my free time cooking and spending time cooking with my daughters.  And while I may not have the disposable income anymore for recreational shopping, I am finding more satisfaction in owning durable things I use every day, like my pressure cooker and my pretty dish towels.  I am even finding I enjoy the process of composting!  I do have some modern tweaks--I use coconut oil instead of hydrogenated vegetable shortening.  I use my bread machine instead of heating up my oven.  But most of what I do is identical to a housewife in the Forties, and I'm proud to say that.

I'm not the only one who appreciates the old ways for their money savings and environmental soundness.  Environmentalists are waking up to the fact that post-Peak-Oil will have the same challenges that people cleverly dealt with for the millenia before people discovered they could burn petroleum.  Building design, city design, transportation--so many modern green innovations are inferior to the old ways.  The undisputed champion of the old is green is Prince Charles.  He has spent his life bringing back the old ways like traditional organic farming, and has recently written a book and participated in a documentary outlining his views.

'Harmony': Prince Charles Of Wales' New Environmental Film Is A Call For Action

Harmony Movie Trailer from Balcony Films on Vimeo.

Another environmentalist who is a more recent convert to the old is green, is Lloyd Alter at Treehugger.  He has written a recent fascinating article outlining how valuable traditional ways of living are for the green movement.

Heritage Is Green: Lessons From The Architectural Conservancy

But the penny finally really dropped when I was reviewing Peter Calthorpe's new book, Urbanism in the age of climate change. He wrote:
urbanism is, in fact, our single most potent weapon against climate change, rising energy costs, and environmental degradation.

But I do not think he goes far enough. He describes his Green Urbanism, a sort of solar powered New Urbanism.

Here a more urban life is matched with efficient clean energy sources, less driving in more efficient cars, better building technology and green utilities. But I think there is yet another form of urbanism:  Heritage Urbanism, where we restore the urban fabric and rebuild our communities to work the way they used to. Where we learn from those who designed them before there was oil, about how to live after oil. I suspect that I will be writing a lot more about this in the future.

Originally posted to Living Simply on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 06:20 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I am nowhere near as green as you (23+ / 0-)

    but I now live walking distance from work and the grocery store.  I drive once a week (Sundays) to see my Mom and to do any stray errands.

    I am teaching my son how to cook, which is funny since I am a terrible cook, but we are learning recipes as we go.  Tonight is tuna casserole.  Last night was chicken alfredo that my son made.  Tomorrow night is catalina salad...yum!

    If you think education is expensive, wait until you see how much stupid costs

    by Sychotic1 on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 06:41:01 PM PDT

    •  No, living within walking distance of your work (12+ / 0-)

      and the grocery store makes you ten times greener than me, absolutely.  That counts a lot LOT more when it comes to greenhouse gases than zero waste.  Kudos to you, and I wish I could do the same!

      •  give a hoot: telecommute! (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        marina, k00kla, Sychotic1, MizC

        All those office towers are unnecessary.

        Anyone who works in an office, whose job consists of handling information by phone and computer, can do that job from home.  Their computer can be connected to the company network.  Their phone can receive and transfer calls from the company phone system (I designed one of the things that makes this possible).  Even if they need to have a dedicated computer and landline with broadband, the ecological and economic costs of those things are less than the costs of commuting to work by car or even by public transport in cities.

        So what do we do with the office towers?  Turn them into housing or shopping or something else.  And stop building them because they're simply unnecessary.  You can have a green city with buildings that are at most three or four stories high, which also makes widespread adoption of solar power more feasible.  

        Though, even 2-story buildings that are open to the public need elevators for accessibility, so people using wheelchairs and walkers and suchlike can get around.  The energy/materials tradeoff is minimal in the overall context.  

        •  You mean they can do that job in India (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sychotic1, cordgrass, bibble

          Or China, or Bangladesh, or Nigeria, or Paraguay.  If you can telecommute, you can be outsourced in about 5 minutes, all to benefit only the top 1%.

          But let me tell you, you can't design and collaborate properly over the phone.  Real creative efforts need to be in the same room.

          •  depends on the industry. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cordgrass, MizC, Norm in Chicago

            Speaking from nearly 30 years designing & installing office telephone systems:  

            Architects need to be in the same room because their collaborations often involve things such as physical models of buildings (even today: physical models are useful in ways that computer simulations aren't).  Doctors need to see their patients in person.  Etc.  

            But a large number of "cubical jobs" can go telecommute.  This trend has accelerated radically in the past 2 - 3 years, compared to when I developed the telecommute feature for office phones in the late 90s.  It will continue to accelerate purely on the economics: the comparison between the cost of a company providing its workers with cubicle space, and the cost of providing them with laptops and network/telephony connections.  (I'm not using the proprietary term for the thing I designed because this is not advertising.)  

            Either way, each employee needs a computer and a telephone, so the cost difference is between renting square footage (expensive) and paying for a landline with DSL (trivial cost).  That factor in itself is absolutely compelling.  The cost of a fully equipped telecommuter PBX (phone system) is less than the cost of three months' downtown rent for the same number of employees.  

            As for "overseas," the solution to that is regulation.  The technological cat is out of the bag and there's no putting it back.  WTO and the rest of that shit needs to be overthrown and replaced with what we should bluntly be calling protectionist measures: to protect American jobs.  

          •  and I should mention... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cordgrass, MizC

            ... about 20% to 25% of the new extensions I install for employees in certain companies, are equipped for telecommuting: these are people who may come into the office one or two days a week, and work from home the rest of the time.  

            That means taking commuter cars off the road in numbers that, if the trend I'm observing is general, are truly significant.

          •  there's one more problem to address: (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cordgrass, MizC, greengemini

            Union organizing of telecommuters.

            I don't have an answer for this one, but unions need to get hip to the fact that these decentralized workforces need to be reached and organized.  

          •  True (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cordgrass, MizC, greengemini
            Real creative efforts need to be in the same room.

            So true, but the actual work of execution can be done from just about anywhere nowadays.  

            Maybe virtual offices are the future.  You go in one day a week and put your heads together.  The rest of the time you're home designing, coding, talking on the phone or whatever your thing is.

            When the power of love overcomes the love of power, there will be peace. - Jimi Hendrix

            by CharlieHipHop on Thu Jun 16, 2011 at 08:09:36 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Or biking distance (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Powered Grace, Sychotic1, cordgrass, MizC

        Weather in the north means the biking season isn't year round, but a bike extends that distance to let a lot more people live within a green distance of an employment center, at least for most of the year.

  •  My mom is 84 (29+ / 0-)

    She grew up during WWII.  She is the most green and frugal person I know.  And, because she has been frugal all of her life, she has plenty of money.

  •  I used to bring my own (18+ / 0-)

    bags, cloth and string, to the grocery store back in the day. They'd always look at me as if I were trying to steal the merchandise when I refused the official paper bag, and later the plastic ones.

    Now, I have a large bag in the car and keep my canvas bags in it. When I get to the store, I grab two or three bags and use them, then replace after I get the stuff home.

    I still have, somewhere, string bags I bought in Europe and China in the early '80s, when those were suspect here.

    Amount of federal money to National Public Radio in 2010: $2,700,000 / Amount to Jerry Falwell's Liberty University: $446,000,000 / Source -- Harper's Index, June 2011

    by Mnemosyne on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 06:54:58 PM PDT

  •  Remember the 40's Followed 10 Years of Depression (31+ / 0-)

    and was heavily regulated by government rationing for the War. Gas was rationed, sugar was rationed, --new cars I think went off the market for the duration. What we know as the middle class hadn't yet been created, no federal highway system.

    Take a look at suburban sprawl in the 40's. These houses were built in the roaring 20's boom probably for middle management types. 20' between houses.
    Image Hosted by

    The elderly generation has been massively propagandized by the right and corporatists about their own history for 2 continuous generations. In the mid 90's I remember an older woman calling the Columbus public radio afternoon talk show, and in response to the host's question said "I don't think the government ever tried to do anything for ordinary people."

    From her stated age, she lived through the creation of Social Security, collective bargaining rights, the GI Bill and Medicare right off the bat. In my experience nobody of her generation I've ever known would've said such a patently false thing about government 30 years earlier. In those days that generation was still raving over FDR and how even when he couldn't fix something he was constantly inspiring and reassuring the people that we in our collective greatness could come to get it done.

    That older generation had grown up in serious privation and came of age under government madates and rationing that Nixon's wage-price controls known to boomers pale in comparison to.

    A couple trillion dollars was sunk into making sure they finish their lives thinking most of it never even happened, able to say in honesty the government never tried to help them, and that a % tax equals the iron boot of government prohibition.

    Propaganda works. A lot of us were screaming about this threat 30 and 40 years ago and more.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 07:00:00 PM PDT

    •  Those were the houses I grew up in. (13+ / 0-)

      Of course, the house where I live now (so long as I can keep the mtg. co at bay) is as close to my neighbors as those are.  And it has the advantage of being just off a bus line that would go to a couple of grocery stores and sundries, if I could walk a couple of blocks.  Some days it might be possible with the arthritis, most days not.  Altho if it was starvation or walk--

      I grew up on stories of the depression.  I grew up watching my mom wash and save aluminum foil, and string, and rubber bands, and I swear she saved waxed paper too.  Because you never knew when they might not be available.

      On the other hand, I also remember my folks never going out to eat and going to the movies only on their anniversary, so they could save for retirement, and travel and see America.  I remember mom ending up in the hospital with poor health and them bringing her two aspirins--at a cost of $5.00, 30 years ago.   They should have spent it on going to the movies so many years before!  It would have been more fun.   But yes, they were "green".   Then, we called it poor...or frugal.

      "Because inside every old person is a young person wondering what happened." -Terry Pratchett

      by revsue on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 10:48:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  New cars weren't made in the war years (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cordgrass, BYw, Powered Grace

      Automobile factories were re-purposed to make tanks and such.

      Of course, this isn't to say that no new cars were made in the early 40s.  But that's just because the rule had exceptions.

    •  I keep looking (0+ / 0-)

      at that picture--do you live on my street? It looks just like it. Except many of these houses were built prior to 1920.

  •  Everyone who cares is already conserving. (13+ / 0-)

    The only ways to broaden this pool are for the government to make it prohibitively expensive to not conserve - large fines and taxes as sticks with an occasional energy tax credit as carrot or institute rationing.

    I voted with my feet. Good Bye and Good Luck America!!

    by shann on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 07:13:19 PM PDT

    •  Simply price externalities in (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MizC, greengemini

      Instead of fines, simply price externalities into the cost of fossil fuels. It would have to be done gradually, and include the cost of global warming, which is difficult to calculate, although known the be  huge.

      Corporations are people; money is speech.
      1984 - George Orwell

      by Frank Palmer on Thu Jun 16, 2011 at 09:56:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  They do this in Germany - (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      You pay for the garbage you create.  If we did that here, people would change habits in a hurry.  lol

      *this space available for lease if you have something appropriately witty for me to share*

      by xysea on Thu Jun 16, 2011 at 01:23:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Here's a little recyling (16+ / 0-)

    goodie -- there was a discussion a diary or so back about composting and use of small containers for it.

    Today, I got (with permission) from the neighbor's recycle trash a lidded container for scoopable cat litter, brand name Tidy Kat. It's a rectangular container, so will fit corners, with a tight-fitting, hinged lid. Once I've washed out the last of the perfumed litter, it will hold the makings of compost.

    My neighbor was quite intrigued when I told her what I planned to use it for, and she might do it, too.

    Amount of federal money to National Public Radio in 2010: $2,700,000 / Amount to Jerry Falwell's Liberty University: $446,000,000 / Source -- Harper's Index, June 2011

    by Mnemosyne on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 07:28:32 PM PDT

    •  My neighbors (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, Powered Grace, MizC

      bring their stuff to my back yard and dump it in my pile.  I have a big pile at the edge of the property and it all gets dumped there with leaves and grass cuttings.  I stir it up occasionally and we have had no trouble with animals.  I don't get the whole industry on having to buy giant plastic containers for composting.

      And she's good at appearing sane, I just want you to know. Winwood/Capaldi

      by tobendaro on Thu Jun 16, 2011 at 05:12:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No yard available (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        old wobbly, MizC, tobendaro

        I live in what is euphemistically called a "townhouse," with a deck and a tiny green space in back and a small garden in front, into which I have crammed many flowers and herbs.

        The homeowners' association would collectively swoon at the thought of a compost pile. Plus the neighborhood deer, skunks and other critters would have an extremely good time.

        I'm not much on manufactured composting containers, either, which is why re-using an already-produced bit of plastic seems like a double win.  

        Amount of federal money to National Public Radio in 2010: $2,700,000 / Amount to Jerry Falwell's Liberty University: $446,000,000 / Source -- Harper's Index, June 2011

        by Mnemosyne on Thu Jun 16, 2011 at 08:04:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Oh good idea (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I have two of those which I knew would be good for something!

  •  yuck - packaging! (15+ / 0-)

    Last week's diary about zero waste inspired me to get some glass freezer containers to eliminate the plastic freezer bags I was using to repackage the multiple chicken pieces (for multiple meals) that came in each chicken package from the grocery store.  I could not find the glass containers locally so I ordered them online.  When I opened the delivery box, it was filled with those air-filled plastic pockets surrounding another box in which the glass containers were wrapped in bubble wrap!  I figure my "plastic deficit" from this order means it will take me a year of using the glass containers instead of the freezer bags to break even.  I hate packaging!  

    Well-behaved women rarely make history - Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

    by Milly Watt on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 07:31:48 PM PDT

  •  I use my plastic grocery (21+ / 0-)

    bags for trash bags. Otherwise, I'd have to buy plastic trash bags.
    I'm pushing elderly, and have the least trash of anybody I know. Drive less than anybody I know.

    •  Yes on the re-use as trash bags. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xysea, MizC, emmasnacker

      About 2/3 time we use our own grocery bags, the other 1/3 get plastic at the store.  My husband and I put out 1 or 2 bags of trash each week, the rest is recyclables.  Our town trash collection requires a LARGE trash bin that the truck can pick up without human intervention.  We only put it at the curb about every other week, unless there is something truly stinky.

      And yes on not driving much. I am fortunate that way, too.  

      Three main green things initiatives my life are 1) buy less, 2) recycle more, and 3) drive less.

      I woke up this morning only to realize, it's opposite day again.

      by Melanie in IA on Thu Jun 16, 2011 at 08:40:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We have a family of 3's garbage (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MizC, emmasnacker

        down to one small kitchen size bag per week (despite having twice weekly pick up), that isn't even full all the way.  We recycle everything else, including carboard, plastic, paper, glass, metal, foil, styrofoam cartons and grocery bags.  Our veg, fruit, eggshells (rinsed), shrimp shells (rinsed), bread scraps, rice and other organic matter of that type go into a composter.  Meat bones (after they've been used for broth), go into a garbage bag, and that's that.

        I try to buy most of my stuff in package that is minimal and recyclable.

        *this space available for lease if you have something appropriately witty for me to share*

        by xysea on Thu Jun 16, 2011 at 11:36:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  WWII Posters (14+ / 0-)

    During WWII, we probably recycled more than at any other period of our history.  Victory gardens, home and public vegetables gardens provided a significant proportion of our food.  

    There is a lot we can copy from history and practice ourselves.

    Solar is civil defense. Video of my small scale solar experiments at solarray.

    by gmoke on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 07:42:53 PM PDT

  •  It's not easy being green... (19+ / 0-)

    though we try in our own little ways.

    One example you listed, for example, is ambiguous to me.  I don't know which way paper towels cut.  We use a lot of them in preference to cloths and towels that collect germs and need to be laundered.

    I'm not even completely sure all the bike-riding we've begun to do is a net positive impact compared to hopping in the car, but it sure does help our vitality and vigor.

    We've just completed our second week without drinking diet sodas and I can't believe how empty our recycle bin has been.  It's not just the soda cans and cartons, we seem to not be running to the store for assorted other items as well. Maybe it's true what they say about the uber-sweet artificial sweeteners triggering the desire for more sweets.

    At any rate, I know what the poster was talking about, though. I remember bottle deposits and the assumption that you would change blades, not whole razors.  And lots of wadded up newspaper.

    Mostly, though, I remember how nice clothes smelled when we got them down off the clothes line.

    I like progress as much as the next guy, but sometimes its hard to tell which way is forward and which way is back.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 08:19:32 PM PDT

    •  try this: (8+ / 0-)

      Use paper towels only for tasks where there are sanitary/health issues involved, for example cleaning up after handling raw meat in the kitchen.

      Use cloth towels for tasks where there aren't sanitary/health issues:  drying hands after washing them, wiping up the dampness on a counter after cleaning it with a sponge, and so on.  

      Dishes that are washed by hand should always be air-dried on a dish rack for sanitary reasons, so no paper towels needed for those.  

      •  We do air dry our dishes. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        G2geek, ZenTrainer, greengemini

        Paper towels are unclear to me for a few reasons, though.
        If you look at them, they don't actually use a whole lot of paper because so much of any towel is air space.
        Also, they are made from pulp harvested from fast-growing trees grown specifically for paper production. Creating wood pulls carbon out of the air, although the net is diminished by carbon used in the processing/transportaion/disposal cycle.

        Paper towels tend to go to landfills, so the carbon doesn't go back into the air any time soon. Where does the balance fall? Will it fall in the same place ten years from now (ie, if the harvesting of trees is made carbon-neutral or nearly so)?

        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

        by dinotrac on Thu Jun 16, 2011 at 06:49:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Before owning a dog (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dinotrac, cordgrass, SuWho, MizC

          i used maybe a roll of paper towels per year.

          Now, maybe three-four rolls per year.

          Cordgrass, we are so on the same page.
          And i loved sailmakers post...

          If we buy most of our necessary hard goods- small kitchen appliances, canning jars, dishes, etc- second hand, then we eliminate the packaging.

          In this suburb, there are tons of yard sales every weekend.
          We could all easily furnish a comfortable living space for pennies on the dollar, and most likely end up with better quality items than if we bought new crap from china.

  •  If people were green back in the day (14+ / 0-)

    there's a good chance they still are.

    Habits of living tend to stick.

    Some modern things are good and green. I like freezing better than canning. Many more vitamins and the new freezers use maybe $50 of electricity per year with enough room for a cow and a half.

    I've diaries before about some people I visit who have always lived far off the grid. They are pretty much 100% self sustaining. When they do go to town they treasure the plastic bags they get and re use them and the tiny scraps they turn into until they are gone. Almost everything the eye can see in their village came from within a couple miles.

    A cell phone allows them to hike to a nearby ridge top and make a call saving 2 days walk.

    Today I brought twelve cubic yards of old wooden fencing to the landfill. It's my job. So many trees from old growth cedar to make enclose someone's yard. The front end loaders were pushing the trash into a big compacter and tractor trailers were carting it further to a landfill. Scavenged a tiny dresser for my daughter.

    "Don't fall or we both go." Derek Hersey 1957-1993

    by ban nock on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 08:25:53 PM PDT

  •  Added tag "urbanism" (n/t) (8+ / 0-)

    The goal is not to bring your adversaries to their knees but to their senses. -- Mahatma Gandhi

    by tmo on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 08:59:48 PM PDT

  •  The part I like in all this is the snotty attitude (10+ / 0-)

    a lot of young people put on about "those useless old people." And the attitude that their parents and grandparents have a lot of nerve daring to be old and infirm and collecting some of the money those ole folks paid into Social Security and Medicare. Young people buying into a total lie that SS is "in trouble," and they will never get back what they pay into it (true only if the fucking Reds do what they are planning, "privatizing" (STEALING) the whole safety net. Letting the WRONGs turn them against their parents, in the kind of divide and conquer scam they ought to recognize from their years of role playing games. The same young people who sneer about "Baby boomers" and their daring to want the benefit of what they paid for, are becoming "boomerangs," moving back home because their great consumer culture, the one they thought was going to give them all "really good jobs for not too much work," isn't. I read that 85% of young graduates are having or wanting to "move back into THEIR old rooms." So many of them are eating their parents' social security money for lunch, and bitching that the old folks aren't dying fast enough to leave them what little equity that a bunch of Gen Xers in the 90s started blowing up into huge fake bubbles in real estate pricing (Old People were not featured on "Flip This House" that I ever saw.)

    The basic message ought to be, people , that unlike what the WRONGS, the Kochs and their clan have suckered too many of us into believing, "we are all in this together." And if we all don't go green together, take a little care of each other, realize that any of us can instantly become dependent on the kindness of family and other strangers, the Kleptocrats will continue to eat our breakfasts, lunches and dinners, and laugh at us all the way to the bank with all the little bits of Real Wealth we actually earn by good old fashioned day labor.

    "Is that all there is?" Peggy Lee.

    by jm214 on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 09:01:50 PM PDT

    •  I really haven't gotten that attitude from young (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, tonyahky, SuWho, MizC

      people.  I hang out with a lot of them online, and they do seem to be a better crop of human being than my generation was at their age.  Of course they do have reason to be angry, not being able to get jobs.  But they seem to be a lot less self-centered than my generation was, and certainly more community-minded--the hive mind is impressive to watch.  And the ones I know who are living with their parents are embarrassed, and try to help out around the house to make up for the mooching.

      •  A lot of the older people I know are caring not (6+ / 0-)

        only for the "kids," 20- and 30-somethings, but the grandkids too. Many are doing the Walmart-greeter kinds of jobs to bring in enough to feed the whole returning tribe. Maybe that's a different take on the "right of return" theme?

        And yes, there are good people of all ages, but hey, it does not take any significant effort to dig into comments on Yahoo and my local paper's blogs and article comments to tap into the resentment I mention.

        Once again, the key to all this is sticking together. We the People get screwed because the Kleptocrats are organized, and monomaniacal in pursuit of their real religion, MOREism -- more of all the wealth for THEM. Too many of the rest of us are disabled by our empathy and generosity from being able to see through the smokescreen of "CEO joke" bullshit to act to protect fairness and decency against the tribal false-flagging of the WRONGs.

        "Is that all there is?" Peggy Lee.

        by jm214 on Thu Jun 16, 2011 at 03:31:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  free rent isn't mooching. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cordgrass, Question Authority

        Occupying an otherwise unused room isn't mooching, unless the parents had planned to rent it out to some stranger for income.  

        If someone lives with their parents and helps with household tasks, and can get enough work to cover their 1/N share of the utilities and food bill and other "operating costs," they're doing their share.  

        •  What ever. (0+ / 0-)

          "Is that all there is?" Peggy Lee.

          by jm214 on Thu Jun 16, 2011 at 07:45:16 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I'm on the flip side of this. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          greengemini, MizC, G2geek

          For the past two years I've lived with my daughters.  I've been able to help them out with things like cooking, cleaning, sewing and when I was with my older daughter, child care.  I hate feeling like a burden, and I'm far too young to be looking to them for help, but I am also able to  make their lives a bit less complicated when it comes to the everyday chores.  

          •  same thing: it's not mooching. (0+ / 0-)

            It's extended family, something we've wanted to see happen since extended families were first shredded by suburban developments.  

            If you can kick in something toward utilities and other "operating costs" of the household, even better.

            And if there are kids, having grandma at home is wonderful for them.  

    •  plutograts play divide-and-conquer... (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tonyahky, jm214, cordgrass, SuWho, greengemini, MizC

      ... by sewing resentments between young and old about Social Security, Medicare, and so on.  The better to keep both young and old from looking up into the economic stratosphere where the plutocrats dwell.  

      The fight-back on this is, every time you see that young/old thing going on, remind people: the real drain on the economy is coming from the plutocrats.  

  •  Thanks for a very thoughtful diary. My parents, (14+ / 0-)

    who both grew up on farms in the 1920's and 30's, ran as far away from certain frugal things as possible. They never grew anything in our yard, they always bought new clothes, they liked TV dinners and fast foods. At the same time, my Mom made a lot of our food from scratch and sewed her dresses and most of my clothes until she taught me how to sew and I made my own clothes from about 14. Mom never took a bag to the store, but she usually bought fresh vegetables and meats or my uncle brought us fresh from his garden. Nothing organic.
    The 30's and 40's were hard on that generation and I think they just wanted to put it all behind and get on with the new decades and shiny kitchen toys.
    I am semiretired and in my 60's. I buy clothes mostly at Goodwill or make them. We garden, we can, we compost, we walk, we cook 99.99% from scratch, we use as little electricity as possible, we only drive if walking is not possible. So this little family of DFH is walking the walk.
    BTW, I have all my Mom's cookbooks from the 20-80's. One's I like best are The Household Searchlight and her Fannie Farmer Boston School of Cooking from 1934. The pie pastry is the best, but use lard and butter!
    Cheers, we'll teach the next generation yet. I see so many signs of young people wanting to learn. I am hopeful.

    She who knows she has enough is rich My recipes @ Politicook

    by TX Scotia on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 09:52:41 PM PDT

  •  I use my GPS-equipped iPhone (9+ / 0-)

    to avoid having to drive around to find things when I'm not in familiar parts of town- the routing software is a great time and distance saver. And I also use the calendar to help me organize what few chores I have that take me out in the car once or twice in a week. That's a big improvement over my situation a few years ago. Other than that I have a pretty low-tech, simple life.

    I do remember when a temporary shift from the simpler times of my youth occurred: we moved from Houston to the San Francisco bay area in 1966. The new neighbors tended to have 3, 4, or more of the things we had previously had generally one or at most two of: tvs, cars, bathrooms, stereos, and on and on. Quite the culture shock, lol.

    Moderation in most things.

    by billmosby on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 10:03:21 PM PDT

  •  Actually (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lujane, cordgrass, ninkasi23, G2geek, MizC, xysea
    They replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

    They sharpened their straight razors on a fine Tennessee or Arkansas stone and trued the edge on a strop.

    "Lash those traitors and conservatives with the pen of gall and wormwood. Let them feel -- no temporising!" - Andrew Jackson to Francis Preston Blair, 1835

    by Ivan on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 10:45:52 PM PDT

  •  Nicely written. (8+ / 0-)

    I heard a woman say something that struck me as strikingly sad to her grandmother the other day. Grandmother was making pasta, kneading the dough, feeding it into a hand-cranked roller, cutting the pasta with a knife, laying it out to dry...
    Woman, holding her infant in her arms, asked, "why are you taking all the time to do that?"
    Grandmother smiled and replied, "because it's the I used to do it with my mother, and because it's fun."
    Woman with baby smiled, but seemed perplexed and unable to comprehend the response to her question.

    That exchange highlighted the difference between "green" and "fucking-confused-about-one's-role-in-the-world" for me.

    I think "green" really can be defined as "cognizant of reality and the consequences of one's actions in a universe ruled by physical laws and not by hallucinations about "gods" or one's tepid and imagined sense of self-importance."

    But that's just me.

  •  Blind Spot (7+ / 0-)

    The documentary Blind Spot  illustrates that in light of peak oil, our way of life is clearly unsustainable:  

    If we continue to burn fossil fuels we will choke the life out of our planet and if we don't our way of life will collapse.

    Consequently, I would modify the statement above from: "Where we learn from those who designed them before there was oil, about how to live after oil" to: "Where we learn ... about how to live after the oil is gone" .

    Changing our individual habits is a good place to start, however, unless people understand what's at stake and demand (are willing to comply with) a government with a comprehensive clean energy policy program, I'm afraid that our efforts will not be enough.  To that end, I would like our government to invest in infrastructure for bike roads, offer mass transit running on  fuel cells, rebates for people who bike / take mass transit to work rather than subsidize oil companies , etc.  Will we learn in time to endow future generations a livable planet?  As the song says:  "The answer my friend is blowing in the wind..."

    What do we live for, if not to make the world a less difficult place for each other.--George Elliot

    by Independent Musings on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 11:47:39 PM PDT

  •  I'm not cheap, I just don't have any spare change! (10+ / 0-)

    Since I took early retirement at 62 a few years ago, I have become a ninja money-saver. I buy most of my non-underwear clothing and household goods at my local Saint Vincent de Paul store.

    Last weekend, I found two pair of new-looking, bespoke slacks in my size, which I cut off, and my wife re-hemmed as very nice shorts. I would have liked to try sewing them myself, but she doesn't trust me with her sewing machine.

    1. When you go shopping for used clothing, know your body measurements, and do NOT try anything on in the store, as there is NO guarantee anything was washed before being put out on display.

    2. Check back frequently. Most of the nicer clothes are from estates, and people continue to die.

    Saint Vinnies also has a great assortment of cooking tools, such as cast iron pots and pans, knives, spatulas, etc.

    The furniture! You can tell immediately if anything has been "catted on," and there's always lots from which to choose.

    They also have textbooks on a variety of topics. I collect mathematics texts, and while the knowledge of math continues to grow, many of the rules have been unchanged for centuries.

  •  Push mowers & greener grass (11+ / 0-)

    OK, so I don't use a push mower any more. But I do use an electric one -- far less pollution than from an inefficient small gas engine. I also planted a lawn of slow growing deep-rooted grass. It needs to be mowed less than half as often as a regular lawn, even if I shaved the grass close to the ground (which I don't, that's wasteful).

    Because of the deep roots it only needs to be watered during a couple of the driest weeks of the year. It needs hardly any fertilizer, either! True, it was a load of work to put it in, since I need to mix in sawdust and horse manure and so forth down two feet to change the subsoil people had been trying to grow grass on for 50 years into something that would soak up water, but that was over 15 years ago & won't need to be done again.

    If I had to use a push mower I couldn't have grass -- I can't manage a push mower any more. And in fact, we reduced the amount of grass on our property in half when we bought it -- ground cover where grass used to be. So there are ways of being greener other than using a push mower.

    •  We had a push mower left over (4+ / 0-)

      from when my parents grew up in Oklahoma in the 30s and 40s. When I was 5 or so we moved to Houston (via a detour to Cajun country). I don't know how many, if anybody, was ever able to fight their way through the jungles of St. Augustine grass that the Houston climate produced, lol. We did try it for a while but just gave up on the idea.

      Moderation in most things.

      by billmosby on Thu Jun 16, 2011 at 06:31:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The old ways--back when I was growing up (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marina, cordgrass, greengemini, MizC, Aranfell

    in eastern KY, we raised a significant portion of our food. We always had a big garden, and kept chickens for meat and eggs. My dad always raised a couple of hogs, and in the fall, he would butcher them, and we would spend days afterward smoking hams and bacon, rendering out lard, and making homemade sausage.

    We had woods around our property, and heated our house with a wood stove. So rather than pay hundreds of dollars to stay warm in the winter, our heat was free. We didn't have an air conditioner, but we had trees all around the house. We cooked outside most of the time during the summer, so most of the time, it didn't really get all that hot inside the house. My dad knew a great deal about which herbs growing in the woods were good for medicine, which wild plants could be eaten, and which ones could be sold for money. We used to take walks in the woods and would dig ginseng and yellowroot to sell to the herb buyer in Pikeville, KY.

    My mother used to spend a lot of time canning during the summer and fall. We had a wood stove out in the yard that she used to can on, instead of heating up the house running the pressure canner. We also had a clothesline and a Maytag wringer type washer. She used to make quilts from scraps of fabric saved from old clothes we couldn't wear anymore, and had a can she saved buttons and zippers in--if we lost a button on a shirt, or if the zipper messed up on a pair of jeans, she could fix it. She taught me how to sew by hand, stressing the importance of making tiny, neat stitches, and keeping the seams straight.

    In many ways, it's a life I miss. I still try to garden and can, but in many communities, clotheslines are not even allowed--nor are outdoor wood stoves. And when you work all the time, it's hard to find time to sew quilts by hand, or do some of the other things people used to do.

    •  tonyahky, (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tonyahky, cordgrass, MizC, xysea

      I used to go yarbin' with my ex in Virginia and North Carolina.
      Not many people can claim that experience.
      Mayapple and bloodroot, stoneroot and witch hazel.
      We dried stuff in a big old barn.  I can recall the fragrance even now.

      •  Yep--I know people right now who are (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        marina, cordgrass, MizC, xysea

        raising ginseng out in the woods on their property. The "woodsgrown" stuff isn't worth quite as much as the wild, but the last I heard, it still commands about $300-$400 a pound. It's mainly the Chinese who buy that stuff--they use it in their folk medicine. I heard about a guy who sold a ginseng root he grew for about $1500 to a Chinese businessman--if the root is shaped like a human figure, it's worth a lot more. It could be a lucrative business to get into, provided you have the land for it, and can keep the fact that you are raising it a secret so people won't sneak onto your place and steal it. My dad used to make a significant amount of money on the side raising that stuff.

    •  I can't wait til attitudes and laws (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aranfell, cordgrass

      change so I can have chooks in my yard!  lol  We're suburban, but just on the inside of the city limits.  City ordinance prevents having chickens inside the city limits -probably due to noise and waste-handling issues.  

      I would build a coop and order some chicks in a heartbeat if I could...

      *this space available for lease if you have something appropriately witty for me to share*

      by xysea on Thu Jun 16, 2011 at 01:27:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  M granny, and my hillbilly ex (6+ / 0-)

    taught me everything, I mean everything, I need to know about avoiding waste and making do with all of what you have.

    Poverty is one powerful way to discover your inner resourcefulness.
    Making soup out of an ear of corn and a couple of potatoes, for instance.  

  •  Old School Stuff I Do As A Young Whippersnapper - (5+ / 0-)

    I use a handkerchief.  

    No disposable tissues for me.  I have about six handkerchiefs.  When one gets used, it is washed and hung to dry on the line.  They are also convenient for spills and a myriad of other needs (mini-tourniquet or bandage), are quite inexpensive and can be personalized with a little embroidery floss.  

    I use glass jars, wooden spoons, metal utensils and ceramic plates and bowls.

    No plastic for me.  I wrap things in fabric, aluminum foil and parchment paper.  I generally don't buy things in plastic jars, sticking to glass ones that I wash, sterilize & re-use ad infinitum.  Or I buy in bulk and recycle the plastic bags.  Look ma, no Gladware!  I also have some re-usable glassware with lids (like Pyrex) to transport things in.

    I use dishtowels and dishrags.  I also turn old t-shirts and towels in to rags for washing cars and other grimy jobs.

    No sponges for me.  My scrubbers are either plant-based or steel wool (minus soap).  No plastic scrubbers, either.  And no papertowels.  I use dishtowels and rags to mop up spills.  When they get dirty, they get washed and hung on the line.

    I use regular dishware.

    No disposables for me.  No disposable silverware, cups, plates or bowls.  At work, I have one bowl, a set of silverware and a glass that I picked up at a second hand store.  These items stay at work permanently and are washed in the kitchen and dried there, after lunch.  I bring my lunch.  I use the items above to wrap my food or store it, but also fruits and veg (uncut) don't even need wrapping.  Just washing.  lol

    I use cloth bags.

    No plastic bags for groceries, here.  I use cloth bags for everything...packing picnic lunches, etc.  

    I use baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice and water to clean more than 50% of things in my home.  I do still buy laundry detergent (though I've made it before) and dish soap.

    I use a clothes rack and line for drying a lot of stuff.

    I also minimized my possessions.  60 years ago, rare was the individual who had 12 pairs of jeans, 25 shirts, 50 pairs of shoes.  I cut my wardrobe in half, to things of good quality that I actually use and wear regularly.  I mend things, sew buttons on, polish shoes/bags, repair seams, iron or hem things on a regular basis.  I have a sewing machine and a sewing kit.  I have also turned old clothes that can't be repaired into rag rugs or quilts.

    I garden & can vegetables.  I have an herb garden for fresh herbs. I cook most meals from scratch.  I meal plan, use coupons and keep to a budget.

    I re-purpose a lot of things, like my grandad did.  Babyfood jars were cleaned, and the lids were nailed to the workbench.  In them are nails, screws, bolts, nuts and washers.  I just unscrew the jar from the lid when I want something.   Keeps it all nice and tidy.

    I bicycle and walk.  A lot.  Yesterday, I walked 2 miles from my job to the grocery store and left my car in the parking lot.  I got exercise, bought just what I needed and saved on fuel.  

    I'm sure I can think of more, given some time.  I'm not a total throwback, though.  I have a cell phone, an mp3 player, a tv.  I prefer reading, walking with my husband, tennis and gardening, but I am not immune to modern conveniences.  I don't have a dishwasher (oh, wait, I do - she's 13!  lol), but I do enjoy the benefits of a washing machine.  

    I pick fruit (grapefruit, limes and oranges) from trees out my back yard.  I have a rain barrel and I compost.   I try not to waste anything, if I can help it.  :-)

    I have a green blog where I detail recipes and my attempts to 'green' my life here:

    But what I am finding is using some common sense and being strongwilled and independent goes quite a long way... :-)

    *this space available for lease if you have something appropriately witty for me to share*

    by xysea on Thu Jun 16, 2011 at 08:40:27 AM PDT

  •  Doing without (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cordgrass, greengemini, MizC

    I don't get by with one TV in my home. We haven't had a TV for decades.

    We live in an apartment. The heat doesn't leak out every side of our house.

    I take public transit, and -- living in an apartment among other apartment houses -- public transit runs often enough so that it works.

    (I used to walk more than I do. Then I broke my hip and was stupid during the recovery period.)

    I wear clothes until they wear out -- easier, I'll admit, for a man than for a woman.

    Corporations are people; money is speech.
    1984 - George Orwell

    by Frank Palmer on Thu Jun 16, 2011 at 09:48:59 AM PDT

  •  I have to balance my green desires (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cordgrass, greengemini, MizC

    with my disability's ability to handle things.

    We pay to have our postage stamp yard mowed, and he does use a gas mower. But I have fibro and Bear's knees and lungs are just to the point where walking half a block is out, let alone doing the yard with any sort of mower.

    I use glass canning jars a lot for storage of various things. The pint jars also prove handy for measuring liquids on the run in the kitchen, and I can get oil off glass easier than off plastic. I don't can with reused canning lids, but they are fine to keep the dry milk from drawing moisture.  Oh, yeah, I also can. I will probably can corn in season this year, and last year was a mast year for the apple trees, so I have boatloads still of applesauce, apple relish, and apple butter. Also peach butter.

    Currently we don't have a large freezer, but we hope we can get one when Bear gets his disability. Then we can order half a grassfed cow from my step-nephew. We can pick it up when we go out to see my father-in-law, as we do every week. I do my laundry there, though I don't hang clothes. (I have a choice between hanging the laundry to dry it and hanging it up in the closet. My shoulders don't have spoons for both.)

    The only plastic bags I use and toss are ones that contain raw meat. Unfortunately, that's basically what I use plastic for; I prep my meat ahead of time, seal it up, and freeze it.

    I grew up with a garden and in a very green fashion, and had I land and a healthy body, I'd do more.

    It is what it is. It will be what I make it.

    by Alexandra Lynch on Thu Jun 16, 2011 at 10:17:46 AM PDT

  •  A very helpful, informative diary (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greengemini, MizC, xysea, cordgrass

    I'm approaching 50, and my parents are in their 80's.  They were young children during the Great Depression, and then after they married, they went on to have 8 children and raise them on one salary.  Frugality is second nature to them.  

    For me, my silver lining to the downturn in the economy has been a reawakening of how to live frugally.   The many ways my parents made ends meet are all coming back to me, and I think it's easier to resume old habits than form brand-new ones.

    I'm working 3/4 time these days, and my work day ends at 2:30.  That means less take home money, but greater time at home in the afternoons with my son, and more time to fix dinners from scratch.  I love having this extra time every single day.

    Your diary gave me some good ideas on what to try next to keep living a more frugal, green life.  Thank you.

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