My Green Childhood


I was green before it was cool. I was green before it was a term to describe living closer to the Earth. Being primarily raised by my maternal grandparents who went through the Great Depression, it was second nature to recycle aluminum cans and newspapers, reuse containers from any products we purchased, eat in season local produce, garden extensively and can those veggies for consumption during the long NY winters. Grampa even had fruit trees and Grama cooked everything from scratch. We wore more layers if we were cold in the house rather than turn up the thermostat. We never left the faucet running. We turned off lights every time we left a room.

If there was a Cool Whip container, it was reused in place of Tupperware. When something went on sale we stocked up and used a coupon. We knew our neighbors and traded fresh garden veggies with them. If we had 20# of tomatoes to share, we got eggplant or zucchini in trade. This went for everything in the garden. What a neighbor shared could be something we didn't grow, it expanded our mutual variety. Grama made gallons of her famous sauce and brought canned Mason jars of it over to neighbors who had a poor tomato yield.

I learned how to sew and darn things that ripped or frayed rather than replace it. When clothing or household items had finally lived past their use for us, we donated to St. Vincent's or The Salvation Army so it still got another incarnation.

Remembering these details and skills has helped my husband and I get through these dark economic times by being thrifty and frugal. I never had a desire to consume products and clothing the way that a good American should. I look something over carefully and decide I can make do without. Or create my own version of it. Or repair the last one I had.

Living Green is simply the way I have always lived. Being conscious of what something cost, beyond just the price tag, is how I was raised by my grandparents. This knowledge is more dear to me since they've passed on and since it has become even more necessary and useful today. I am excited to see this way of life becoming more mainstream and the Consumer Age coming to a close.


qazrazl qazrazl
41-45, F
8 Responses Mar 11, 2009

Despondent- ((hug)) too bad you've labeled yourself with so sad a name.<br />
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I think we've been in another Depression for awhile already. It would be great if everyone did some things just a little bit different. Even replacing light bulbs with CFLs would make a big diff.<br />
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I forgot to mention how important composting was in my grandparents' house and how bountiful it made the garden. So easy to toss kitchen scraps in a pile outside with grass clippings and leaves. Next spring there's great soil to use in beds and till into the soil.<br />
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Worry not, things are gonna get so much better than they were for the last 8 years. :)

I guess it's a good thing we're heading into a depression that's going to be even bigger than the Great Depression. People will definitely have to change their habits.

Sorry, I'm Italian. Food is my religion. :)

All of a sudden I am very hungry.

Mmmm, sounds yummy. My Grampa made gallon jars of Napoletana Insalata: cauliflower, fennel bulb, bell & banana peppers, carrots, pearl onions, whole cayenne and garlic clove. Coated with extra virgin & vinegar, set in boiling water, then sealed with a metal cover to make a vacuum. It tasted like late summer when we'd open it up in February....

My grandmother did lots of canning as did my mother. They had jars and jars of tomatoes, peaches, pears, mustard pickles, and other good foods all winter.<br />
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We buy some extra produce in the fall and prepare it for freezing but it isn't exactly the same.

Certainly not quickly enough. I am trying to stay focused on the positive. I think we've been in The Second Depression since last summer. <br />
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We began noticing the cost of regular grocery items sharply increasing and reminded us of inflation in the '70's. Cost of living increases are expected. But for instance, a quart of yogurt was $1.99 a year ago and is now $3.79. Nothing new and improved, no extra ounce. Just a lot higher price for the same thing. Wages haven't been increased. We are struggling and have been for quite awhile, not just a few months. <br />
So much for staying positive. But all the more reason why I'm glad I was trained to be thrifty and resourceful.

I agree with the first part of your last sentence, but I don't see the 2nd part happening nearly quickly enough. Anything short of another Great Depression will probably fail to get people to fundamentally change.