Go Green Like Grandma

With Earth Day prominently celebrated in the month of April, it’s a fitting time to remind ourselves the importance of taking care of Mother Earth. And what better way to focus on green practices than calling to mind what Grandma would’ve wanted us to do?

It’s no secret that previous generations seem to have taken better care of the planet than we maybe do today. Who among us hasn’t opened a container of Cool Whip in Grandma’s fridge, only to find that she’s re-using it for leftover pasta salad storage? Who’s inadvertently tossed a plastic spoon into the trash only to see her snatch it out to salvage and use it a second time around? She’s been on to something there, effortlessly doing her part to save the planet, one small action at a time. 

So in the spirit of going green, let’s bring ourselves back a few decades, shall we? Let’s call to mind the “Three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle,” a little mantra that came about in the early 1970’s, right around when most major environmental movements were gaining popularity. Consider adopting some of these classic practices that would make Mother Earth (and Grandma!) smile.

1. Reduce

a. Use it all: You better believe Grandma wouldn’t toss that package with a little bit of food or product left in it. Minimize waste by manipulating the container, using the last bit of product in a different way, and ensuring it gets put to use. Reduce wasted resources by planning ahead and simply being mindful.

b. Turn it off: Listen to that voice in your head telling you to turn it off if you’re not using it! Lights, the faucet, the car, and more; they each consume precious resources that we should preserve for generations to come.

c. Refuse: Not going to be able to consume it all? Wasteful packaging? Better alternative elsewhere? Don’t purchase or agree to it. It’s a simple way to do your part in making a difference.

2. Reuse

a. Containers: The quantity of “disposable” plastic storage containers (i.e. deli, baby wipes, margarine, ice cream, you name it) that piles up in landfills each year is staggering, so select a different option when you can. If you must buy products in this type of packaging, choose a recyclable style, and take a lesson from Grandma by giving those containers a second, third, and fourth go-around before sending them to the recycling facility.

b. Furniture: The growing trend of refinishing furniture is music to Grandma’s ears. A drab-looking dresser can be up-cycled into a stunningly chic storage bench. Or that dresser with dents and dings can be re-surfaced, painted, and distressed to encompass a stylish shabby-chic look. Don’t let it go to the landfill until you consider your options, like Grandma would do. [Photo Credit: www.littlepatina.com – used with permission.]

c. Rethink: When you find yourself contemplating a trip to the dumpster with something, remind yourself of this “R.” Could someone else find it useful? Could it be turned into something else? If I can’t do it, who could? Donate, recreate, repurpose, or restyle before trashing.

3. Recycle

a. Check the bottoms:  Recycling guidelines have become more and more user-friendly in the past years, allowing for items to inter-mingle (no more sorting!) and expanding the array of accepted of materials. Flip those containers and check the recycling numbers against what your local recycling facility accepts.

b. Compost:  Grandma probably doesn’t throw egg shells and produce trimmings into the garbage. Compost, an amazing naturally-occurring process, makes for the most phenomenal soil and natural fertilizer one could ask for – and definitely one better than money can buy. Maximize the life of your groceries by utilizing each part and thinking beyond that delicious dinner.

c. Electronics: With new technological devices emerging every day, the old ones can quickly become obsolete. While you shouldn’t throw that big, boxy television into the landfill, most people are not eager to purchase or accept it as a gift from you, and second hand donation centers often kindly turn them away. Locate an organization in your area that offers “electronic recycling,” and make sure that it becomes your electronic device’s final destination.

What would your Grandma say? What were her go-to, Earth-friendly habits? Leave us a reply below to add to the list or contribute a comment. Happy Earth Day!