With the Kids

Greener Because of Grandma’s Life Lessons

I consider my grandparents the “O.G’s” of environmentalism. Just to be clear, that’s “Original Green.” The current battle-cry/sustainable-speak of “Reduce – Reuse – Recycle” was merely a way of life for those who lived through world wars and the Great Depression.

My Grandma, 92 when she passed away 4-years ago, taught me all the best lessons about being green. As far as I know, she never thought about her way of life as environmentally progressive. And I think she’d probably get a kick out of the fact that entire blogs, books and websites are dedicated to recreating the art of “homesteading;” since that was just her way of life.

Best practices from Grandma:

  • Composting in the garden long before it was ‘a thing.’
  • Repurposing glass jars for canning, centerpieces or to store buttons.
  • Buying in bulk to saved money, but also significantly reducing one’s carbon footprint because of minimal packaging (they were living the dream without even meaning to!)
  • Knowing the value if borax, lemon juice and vinegar for cleaning.
  • Building your own clothes line for drying: it gives clothes that real “outdoor fresh scent” and is magnificent for bleaching whites without chlorine and other harmful toxins (this trick is especially handy for cloth diapers and baby clothes!)
  • Choosing quality over quantity – especially when it comes to clothes and furniture. When a garment had worn out it’s welcome (yes, sure – pun intended), grandma would tie the fabric pieces into a pot holder or combine them with other material scraps and make a rug (I am serious!).

Some of my favorite lessons learned from Grandma were gleaned in the kitchen. When it came to cooking, meals – and especially treats – were made from scratch. This included mouth watering stews, heavenly breads and pies with fruit picked from one of several fruit trees (when I was young, their property included the following varieties of fruit trees: two plum, one apricot, two cherry and a peach.) Really, is there a better creation than from-scratch cherry pie? (That’s a rhetorical question, obviously.)

From those trees, grape vines, raspberry bushes and veggie garden, the summer’s bounty would be dried, canned and frozen so produce could be enjoyed year round – a start contrast to today’s norm of produce shipped from Chile.

Everyday I have the opportunity to honor her legacy. Thank you Grandma, for teaching me the art of being green!

Photo Credit: Jonanthan Canlas Photography


  1. It’s true! We are rediscovering the joys of simple things. I’ve recently discovered how wonderful clothes, towels, sheets, etc. smell after washing them with vinegar and baking soda! And I’m getting rid of all my plastic storage and replacing it with glass; much healthier for us.

  2. My mother never has a notepad around – uses the backs of envelopes for lists and notes. Uses envelopes included in bills to send keep things together and deliver (like notes to school/church). Newspapers made into mulch. You are right – it is just a way of life for that generation.

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