-Going into town - yes, they lived in a rural area, so their “trip chaining” was pretty practical, but combining errands and trips into one is one way to reduce fuel use. This takes some planning, and my favorite, list making.My memories of farm life are romanticized. I know this. As a grandchild from the suburbs of Los Angeles, my yearly visits to the farm were a wondrous adventure into lives so very different from my own. But today is Earth Day, and while there are lots of good talk about carbon offsets, living off the grid, hybrid cars, these things aren’t for everyone. But being an environmentalist doesn’t have to require lots of money or aligning yourself with a political ideal. At its heart, living simply, making conscientious buying decisions, and re using the items that come into your life, can mean you're doing something pro active.
-Reduce - my grandparents weren’t huge consumers. They bought what the needed, and lived somewhat simply. Family, friends, community, music, the land -- these were things that filled their life.
-Re-use - Things that were purchased were meant to have a long life. I think one of the reasons for this is because there wasn’t trash service on the farm. My grandfather was the king of tinkerers, making things work out of other things. Grandma used old nylons and t-shirts for everything. Items on the farm had more than one life. Plastic bags, plastic containers, these things filled drawers in the kitchen. (I cringe nowadays to these one-use throw away ziploc containers at the grocery store.) Why buy these when you can collect your own?
-Growing a garden - Vegetables were abound in my grandparent’s farm. Tomatoes and squash, corn and beans. What wasn’t eaten fresh was canned and frozen.
-Why use electricity when you have wind and sun? My grandma had a huge clothesline. And she hung the laundry outside to dry. It smelled good, so much better than when it was dried in the dryer, and the image of grandpa’s overalls hanging up to dry on the line is one I’ll never forget.
Happy Earth Day!