It is not a shock to any of us to learn how much Americans waste on a daily basis. We live in a world where we have curbside garbage that is picked up multiple times weekly, it disappears and we do not think much about it. The average American generates 4 POUNDS of trash every day and about 1.5 tons of solid waste per year.
Recently as I was reflecting on Earth Day and how beautiful Louisiana is this time of year, I began thinking about my childhood. I grew up in the late 80s and early 90s and for part of my childhood, I was raised on a farm in the middle of Baton Rouge. My grandparents did their best to take care of the Earth we call home. As a child, it was just the way things were. Now as an adult, I am trying to think of ways my family and I can make our footprint smaller.
Here are some of the things my grandparents did regularly:
- My grandma rarely used Ziplock bags and if she did, they were typically for dry goods and were then reused until they broke. I remember seeing many bags drying out in the dishwasher after being rinsed.
- We rarely used paper plates. Now, I will fully admit this is something I have not taken on in my home; some days my sanity is more important. Maybe that will be my goal for this year! I will say, my grandma rotated who cleaned up after dinner to make sure her kitchen was clean as it was before dinner was cooking!
- They grew a garden! My grandfather was constantly bringing in vegetables that he had grown in his garden. There is nothing better than a homegrown tomato!
- We spent more time outdoors. As kids, we were sent outside and told not to come in until the street lamp came on most days. My grandma would stand on the back porch and yell for us to come in for dinner. Our time outside gave us the fresh air we needed!
- We ate at home! We would go out to eat if there was a special occasion like family visiting or a graduation, but for the most part, our family gatherings were all of us together eating at home.
- They would drink tap water. We never had bottled water growing up; we would fill up a glass at the sink to go with our dinner.
I know times have changed. Now in 2019, our lives are filled to the brim with activities and sometimes we are lucky our children eat dinner and go to sleep at a decent time. For me, I think the key here is simplicity. Our grandparents lived in a world where they sat on their back porch, drank sweet tea and appreciated the world around them. I think there is a lesson in there for us, too!