My grandma recycles.
Her blue bag is in the garage full of plastic number two milk jugs and paperboard. At first I said, "Go, Grandma, go!" But then I was sad, because — among other things — she once raised and milked her own cows. You didn't think about recycling like we do today. Milk went from the cow, to the milk machine, to the milk shack at the back of the barn, through the separator and into a white enamel jug with black trim destined for the fridge.
Grandma's 85 and lives in a small, rural Alberta town — population 500. I had always thought of blue bag or blue bin recycling as a modern, city thing.
My grandparent's had other forms of waste management on the farm. One technique involved pigs — they'll eat anything. Another was the slop pail — picture five gallons of compost but with a lot more liquid. Now imagine hauling it up the stairs, to the pasture behind the house and heaving it over a three-plank wood fence, without spilling.
And my grandma never throws anything out! She has wedding gifts in boxes in the hallway closet, tissue paper from the Christmas of '86 in the crawl space, and every thank-you note I ever wrote. (My mom made us write a lot of thank you notes.)
So when a Calgary Herald reporter asked me, "What can seniors do to go green?" I was embarrassed. How can I give advice to seniors about lowering their environmental footprints? Seniors, like my grandma, grow their own food, sew their own clothes, and butcher their own meat. Or they did.
The term "green" is a new one but the idea is old. No need to even think back to your grandparent's lifestyle. Just think back to your own. I did.
In a recent interview with Canadian Living "green" blogger, Daniela Payne. She asked "Do you remember your first green act?" I said:
Sheesh! I mean, I was concerned about the planet long before the term "green" had anything to do with reducing your footprint on the earth. I spent time in nature as a kid, walked to school during my elementary years, went vegetarian at the age of 16, sold my car at 29, and bought a house in a walkable neighbourhood. But perhaps the biggest one that thrust me into the limelight (pardon the pun) was my green wedding.
Read my full interview with Canadian Living magazine on Daniela's The Green Living Column.
So, is your grandma green? What has she taught you about "going green?"
Lindsay Coulter, Queen of Green