Which Generation is More Eco-Minded: Ours or Our Grandparents?

Image by dorena-wm

Over the last few years people seem to be getting more and more eco-minded. Whether it be through their work, home or personal lives, people seem to have gained an awareness on what is and isn’t eco-friendly. Whether or not they do anything with that awareness is a different story, of course. But when it all comes down to it, which generation do you think is more eco-minded: ours or our grandparents?

Let’s take a look at a few different aspects of life and compare:

WASTE/TRASH: Americans generate an average of 4.4 lbs of garbage per day, yes PER DAY. I’ve seen many people not even think twice about throwing things away that are in perfectly good working order. Thankfully many people are eco-minded enough to donate items they no longer wish to keep. In terms of food waste, take a look at these shocking food waste statistics…not pretty.

Image by Kara Allyson

Our grandparents however were very particular about not wasting items. They didn’t have “money to burn”. So any items that could be recycled, reused or handed down to family or friends were saved from the trash and given another life. You knew to finish the food on your plate. Any “leftover” food was composted, saved or frozen for later.

RECYCLING: Recycling has started to make a comeback. But the real question is, why are there are so many “one-use” products available? Do we really need disposable this and disposable that? Have we opted for convenience over eco-friendliness? There are a number of materials we can recycle that will truly matter more for climate change.

Image by Phil

Back in our grandparents’ day, items such as milk, soda and beer came in glass containers. When they were done with the containers the bottles were returned to the store. The store would then return them to be sterilized and refilled. Water fountains were used for people who were looking for a cool drink of water. Diapers were cloth so they could be washed and reused. Razors and other products had replaceable parts so instead of the entire product being thrown away, individual parts were fixed and/or replaced.

TRANSPORTATION: These days people hop in their cars even for a quick trip to the local grocery store. Freeways show very clearly how much people rely on their vehicles to get around. Speed is very often a factor in people’s transportation choices, so trains, buses and other forms of public transportation have had to step up and become viable options for commuters. However, when it comes to traveling longer distances, flying is still a popular way to get from one place to another quickly.

Image by Joe Wolf

Back in the day, people walked to their local store. They walked to the post office. They walked into town to run errands. They even had electric vehicles way back when and if they needed to travel further, the bus or the train were considered great resources.

Yes, some of this was for frugality purposes, but isn’t frugality a factor when it comes to being green and eco-minded?

Image by cooling

ENERGY CONSUMPTION: The average household uses quite a bit energy and approximately 65% of that energy usage comes from appliances. Between all the appliances in the kitchen, the washer and/or dryer, the television, DVD player, computer and all other electronics the energy bill adds up quickly. Simple steps such as turning off lights that aren’t in use, putting electronics on power strips and shutting them off at night, etc can go a long way to cutting energy costs.

Our grandparents, obviously, didn’t have many of those items. They didn’t have machines that did all the prep work required to make a home-made meal. They didn’t have a 42″ television set or two or three in their house. They didn’t have computers, radios and other electronics on all day and night. And in terms of the laundry, they hung their clothes out to dry.

Image by Katherine

GROWING FOOD: Growing your own food is more and more becoming a mainstream activity. It is no longer considered a “hippie” activity, but is something even communities are doing together to produce and provide fresh fruits and vegetables. It doesn’t matter the size of your home either, we should grow our own food because we are humans.

Image by Simon Blackley

Many of our grandparents had gardens and/or small farms where they grew their own fresh fruits and vegetables. Foods which weren’t eaten at the dinner table were shared with neighbors, friends and family. Excess could always be canned or frozen for future use. Nothing went to waste.

So…when it all comes down to it, which generation do you think is more eco-minded? Ours or our grandparents? In my person opinion, I think we are becoming more and more eco-minded, but we have a long way to go. Thankfully we are opting for more alternative energy, alternative fuel and environmentally-friendly options, so we are heading in the right direction.


  • Robert

    Have you considered who it was that decided that every piece of property should be disposable, that mass-transit systems in cities across America should be dismantled, that every household needed a washing machine, dishwasher and more, that the ideal for American living should be a wasteful sprawl of shopping malls and suburbs?

    It wasn’t my generation, that’s for sure. I’d have to say that was my grandparents’ generation, unfortunately. I’m sorry, but I think your premise is missing out on everything that led us up to the anti-eco-friendly lifestyle we (as a generation) are trying to escape.

  • Geoff

    I disagree with your characterization. I don’t think past generations were more eco-minded, just eco-friendly due to economic factors. They didn’t reuse because they were conscious of the environment, they reused because it was cheaper to do so rather than buy something new. This generation is really the ones who reuse and recycle out of the desire to have less impact on the environment.

  • Wally

    Yet somehow they sucked every drop of oil out of the plentiful fields of the U.S., and their children of the 50’s had cars when they were 15 and have sucked the rest of oil out the planet and leaving us with peak oil and it’s starting to cost more to pump oil out than what we get in many places. whew..i cant help with the run on sentences.

  • ckerton

    It was different back then. You could live off the land. Families had acres of land to use for firewood, growing food, raising livestock for food. Hunting was good and so was fishing. Now with all the pollution and overpopulation, you can’t drink the poison water, eat the mercury filled fish and wild game and as for heating your house in the winter now, well it costs as much to buy wood as it does to buy electricity unless you inherited a woodlot but I doubt very many would have this available. You could live for almost nothing in the old days because the things that are expensive now were cheap then.

  • Little Lady

    I am from the between, my grandparents lived off the land, so did my parents and my kids are learning to recycle. My Generation was the one demanding, begging and finding ways to suck this plant dry, build shopping malls, chop down all the trees and sell off the land our families passed down. I was raised to conserve on everything used, bought, consumed, dispossed of, & grown! I am trying to teach my kids the same. But because I don’t have the ablity to grow a garden, I help my Dad with his, and his farm, so we get fresh veggies, fruits & meats. My mom & aunt loved to sew & knit so my daughter and I learning that as well. Got my self a feul & echo friendly car, and don’t go into town unless I can get 3 or more things done at once. We try!

  • David

    All of us are at fault. Generations have different behavior, but we have all taken advantage and abused what we were given. Time for all ages to change their behaviors.

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *