4 Eco-Friendly Things We Could Learn From Our Parents and Grandparents

Image by Lori Greig

We are always taught to listen to our elders. Well, when it comes to being eco-friendly or green, there are many things we could and should learn from them as well. Whether they took these steps simply out of necessity or they were born from a true concern about nature and the environment, our parent and grandparents did many eco-friendly things that we would be smart to adapt into our lifestyles.

1 – Conserve: Our parents and grandparents, especially during WWII were inundated with the message to conserve. Everyone had to practice conservation, learn to live a little more frugally.

Image by ActiveSteve

There were even government campaigns promoting the vital need to conserve fuel by doing something smart like get into a “car club”. People were encouraged to cut down on home heating costs by keeping their windows closed, not have their heat on 24 hours a day and not be a “hot water hog”.

2 – Grow your own fruit and vegetables: You can’t get more local when it comes to having fresh fruit and vegetables than your own backyard. Our parents and grandparents may have planted a garden and started a compost out of necessity and so should we. What better way to ensure the organic nature of your food than to grow it yourself? Additionally, fresh fruit and vegetables provide many of the nutrients our bodies need on a daily basis.

Image by Pain Chaud

Of course, don’t forget putting your food waste into the compost to help your garden grow.

3 – Can and preserve foods: Food waste has become rampant in the world today. Even with people going hungry on a daily basis there are still millions of tons of food wasted every year. Apparently food waste is even more of a problem than packaging, with consumers throwing away the “equivalent to the environmental impact of one in five cars on the streets“.

Image by the uff da! chronicles

Our parents and grandparents learned and practiced the art of food preservation, serving leftovers and canning fresh fruits and vegetables to make them last longer. Very little food was wasted. If people today practiced even a portion of what our parents and grandparents did, there would be a lot less food going to waste.

4 – Buy Less: Even though we are in the middle of the holiday shopping season, there is no reason we HAVE to buy lots of stuff. Many of us have parents and grandparents who used to make gifts and presents in order to save money or simply to give something a little more personal. For example, my aunt always made Christmas tree ornaments that she sent to my mom for our tree.  Those ornaments are still some of my most favorite.

So before you go out and buy tons of new things, take a look at “The Story of Stuff” to get an idea about how and why we should be living more sustainable lives:

I know there are many other eco-friendly things we could stand to learn from our parents and grandparents when it comes to being green this holiday season (and beyond), but the above are just a few I thought were key.

What eco-friendly actions did you learn from your parents and grandparents? And what kind of example are you going to set for your children and grandchildren?


  • Sustainable PF

    We have learned many great lessons on our grandparents. While they sacrificed out of necessity, the time has come for the following generations to do so as well. Not only will we be acting in a sustainable manner, we will improve our individual personal financial situations.

  • Tamara

    Our elders taught us alternative ways of doing things that didn’t require electricity. Like instead of running the vacuum everyday just pick up the visible stuff. Everything else is dirt & don’t ya know… “dirt don’t hurt”. Human vacuums, they considered this exercise.

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