Recycling Lessons From Our Grandparents

With New Year’s Eve quickly approaching, promises of turning over a new leaf may be on our minds.  Re-committing to an exercise program, eating healthier or finally getting the office papers organized are just a few of the many resolutions we make at the dawn of a fresh new year.

Taking a look around at all the discarded boxes and wrapping after the holidays can be incentive enough to make a concerted effort to do a better job reducing waste.   And we only have to look a generation or two back to learn a lot about doing well with less.  Children, now grandparents and great-grandparents, who grew up in the Great Depression, are hard-wired to reuse, recycle and repair what was broken.

If you every wondered why grandma uses a teabag three times before finally adding it to the compost bin, it’s not because she is cheap or can’t afford a fresh bag each time.  It’s because growing up, these little luxuries were hard to come by and not taken for granted.  Now we have the opposite problem; we have too much. Too much packaging, too much stuff and it never really leaves.  It is just moved from once place to another.

Children and grandchildren can learn a lesson from the older generation to take a step back and think about what we really need.  While you may not start saving the bacon drippings to use as a spread for toast,  a little creativity might turn what was headed to the trash into something useful and beautiful.  Talk with older relatives to learn what they did to make the most of what they had and it could evolve into a multi-generational recycling project.

As they said in the Dirty Thirties, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without!”