Green in the Family

Today’s post comes from Betsy, a  staff member at the library. Here’s the story of how she learned to be green:

My dad was born in 1924, just before the start of the Depression, in Brooklyn, NY and was one of ten children.  Money was always tight and all of his siblings worked as soon as they could to help care for the family.  Needless to say, there was little to no waste.  Everything was used until it wore out.   When my dad became a parent of twelve, he continued to be very mindful of using resources wisely.  Heat was used in our home from October 1st – April 1st each year, and the thermostat set at a chilly 65 degrees in a poorly insulated house.  Air conditioning was used sparingly with shades drawn during the hot Midwestern summers.  Lights were always turned off when leaving the room.  I have a vivid recollection of Dad in his old blue sweater walking through the house turning off lights and checking the thermostat for violations.  Of course, we all hated it and were embarrassed to have our friends witness his frugal ways.

Fast forward 30 years.  My dad has been gone nine years, but his ways live on through me.  I am now the keeper of the check book and the thermostat and follow his wise ways, much to my own children’s irritation.  As a family,

  1. We give as much away as possible.
  2. We buy used as a rule.
  3. We return any dry cleaning hangars to the dry cleaners for reuse.
  4. We use reusable bags for groceries, but return plastic bags for recycling.
  5. We compost kitchen and yard waste.
  6. A good portion of our lawn is low maintenance prairie grass.
  7. We installed a rain barrel for watering flowers in our yard.
  8. We fill the recycle bins for curbside pick-up.
  9. We all use reusable lunch boxes and cloth napkins.
  10. We get rid of home electronics and household chemicals at SWALCO collection events.
  11. We follow the October through April heating rule, and use air condition sparingly.
  12. We consolidate errands in order to reduce usage of the car.


I bet my dad approves of our ways.

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