Those were the times when people lived within their means. If you didn’t have much money, you got by in the best way you could. You grew your own vegetables, tended whatever livestock your lifestyle required and used and re-used things until you could no longer wring any usefulness out of it.
It was only the rich who flaunted their wealth with their extravagant tastes and hyper-consumptive lifestyles. Regardless of one’s social position today, I’m certain many of my ancestors would put most of today’s Americans in the latter category.
The current economic problems are forcing many of us back into a sort of Earth Day mode, that is, a return to the days when we lived more within our means. Ultimately, I think that is a good thing, but I do have a few concerns.
For one thing, I’m not certain that this spring’s gardening frenzy is the real thing. Successful gardening requires hard work and patience, virtues that require some cultivating of their own. I hope first-time gardeners take a modest, practical and sustainable approach to “living off the land.”
I’m even more concerned with the commercial co-opting of the term “green.” Honestly, the word means nothing these days now that corporate polluters have spun the term to their perceived advantage.
I do enjoy the cloth bags I use when shopping, but enough is enough. Does a person really need more than a handful? Just in the past week, I’ve unexpectedly been handed two at no cost and Walgreen’s is giving them away today (only today, by the way). I’m not accepting any more, even if they’re free.
The easiest thing we can do these days is something my ancestors took for granted: recycle, recycle, recycle. The gardening thing is a pleasant hobby to grow into, too. In fact, I’m taking my creaking knees and ailing back and shoulder into my garden today, a beautiful one in my neck of the woods.
Writing prompt of the day: If you have made lifestyle changes in an effort to live a more sustainable life, write about them, including what you expect to get from them. If you haven’t made such changes, consider what you could do to leave a healthier Earth for your descendants.
Photo: Jens Andersen holds his daughter, Elsie, ca. 1922. (Walter B. Lehmer collection)