Did you know that reusing stuff is back in vogue again?
People reuse things for many different reasons. When they do, it always reminds me of my grandmother because that is her legacy. She was one of the biggest motivators for me getting involved in the green and sustainable world.
I am Marla, the Green Home Coach. Today, my occasional co-host, Tony Pratte, The Green Guy, is joining me to have a conversation about my grandmother’s legacy of reusing almost everything.
In this episode, Tony and I discuss how different generations relate to the notion of reusing things, and we also talk about what we can learn from how our grandparents and great-grandparents did things.
My grandmother was born in 1909 in a small town in South Texas. She was a young woman during the Depression. Back then, most communities were small, rural, and self-sustaining. So things were scarce and had to be reused. I remember her telling my sisters and me when we were little to use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.
My mother’s generation
My mother grew up simply and frugally. Even though she learned to do without many things during World War 2, it was her generation that brought in the mass manufacturing of convenience and luxury items.
The next generation
People from each generation usually want to ensure that those in the next generation will be in a better position than they were. Most parents are willing to work hard so that their children do not have to work as hard. They want to know that their children are well provided for, well-educated, and in a position to make more money than they did.
We need to learn to use all our resources wisely if we want them to be available for the next generation to use.
Creating a culture of reducing, reusing, recycling, and refusing
The culture of reducing, reusing, recycling, and refusing is becoming more fashionable lately. Especially amongst the younger people.
Tony grew up in a working-class family. They lived comfortably but not ostentatiously. They budgeted, planned, and only spent money on necessary things.
My parents sacrificed a lot to give my sisters and me a private school education. They saw a good education as a foundation for us to be in a position to do whatever we wanted for the rest of our lives. My sisters and I are very grateful for their sacrifice!
My grandmother used to reuse things like foil, rubber bands, paper clips, and nails. Some of that rubbed off on me. So when I get a plastic take-out container, I either reuse it or throw it away in the recycling bin. I do not buy zip-lock bags anymore. But if I get one, I wash it out and reuse it. I also save and reuse glass jars.
The younger generation
Some younger people do not think they will have the opportunity to live the same lifestyle as their parents did, or to retire, because they have high college debts and do not have high-paying jobs. Prices also keep rising, and they do not budget, so they struggle to put any money aside.
Easing the financial burden
There are things they can do to ease their financial burden. Many of them are learning to hold onto things and reuse them. They are also learning to stretch their budgets more.
Buying used items
I buy as many used items as I can. Used furniture is safer because it has already off-gassed.
Changing our lifestyle
My husband had brain surgery a few years ago, and that changed everything for us. Although we live comfortably, we have a simpler lifestyle now and use fewer resources than ever before. Apart from saving money, we now also save time and energy.
A fine line
There is a fine line between hoarding and keeping everything and being wise about keeping the things you will need.
Neighborhood swaps are a great way to get what you need when you need it, without having to buy things you only use once in a while, like trailers and gardening equipment.
Follow the four Rs
- Refuse: If you do not need something, do not get it.
- Reduce: You will use a lot less if you take only what you need. (Like unnecessary packaging.)
- Reuse: Wash and reuse items like plastic or glass containers. We reuse straw bales that people have used for Christmas decorations in our garden.
- Recycle: Recycling something will change its form. (Newspapers can be recycled into writing paper.)
Packaging has changed
Many people have changed their attitudes about reuse because packaging materials have changed so much over the years. Learning to refuse unnecessary packaging, and reusing whatever you can to store things in, is a great way to tackle two problems at once in a sustainable way.
Getting only what you need
Focus on getting only what you need. Then, when you occasionally splurge on something you want it will feel so much more special!
My website Green Home Coach
Learn how to make your home healthier for you and our world in my Love Your Everyday Green Home
My fav reusable bags…for everything! (and search “bags”)
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