Live Green and Earn Points


3 Green Life Lessons My Mom Learned From The Great Depression

By Molly Wright |
This by-gone era where living on less was the status quo is something we should look into more today.

My mother lived through The Great Depression, and to this day she still buys, saves and reuses as if it were the 1930’s. Although the name Depression is far from uplifting, this by-gone era where living on less, using less and wasting less was the status quo, offers us so many positive lessons everyone can implement in our lives today.

Lesson #1 - Living on less is a good thing!

Supplies were limited during the Depression and rationing was required. No need to go to extremes, but limit the excess. Consider the aisles of a typical mega store. There’s just so much! Don’t be swayed by the sheer volume and variety of items that surround you—you just might convince yourself to buy products you don’t need.

Sure, those sunglasses are mega-cute, but if they’re a 2nd or a 3rd pair, they’ll just get lost in the shuffle. Appreciate all the great things you already have and you’ll save a little money in the process. Choose classic, durable items so you aren’t always buying the latest versions and disposing of old ones. Landfills are full of obsolete, unwanted stuff. By living on less we can cut down on so much unnecessary waste.

Lesson #2 – Reuse, Repurpose

During the Depression, it was critical to get the most use and value out of every item. From rinsing aluminum foil and plastic bags, darning old socks, resurrecting old bath towels as garage rags, my mother always found ways to give new life to things some people might just toss.

Reusing and repurposing was a necessity in the Depression era, but today it’s a reality of living greener and protecting our earth. Let’s get creative! Don’t just throw out that shirt with a small stain you can’t get out, use the fabric for patches in a quilt or cover for a pillow!

Lesson #3 – Little Waste Means Big Savings

Throwing leftovers in the trash or leaving a light on when you left a room would be unimaginable to many who lived during the Depression. Not only is it a waste of money, it’s also a waste of resources! Live smarter. Don’t buy more than you need for the week and reinvent your leftovers into another exciting meal. Make sure you unplug items that aren’t in use and turn off lights when you aren’t using them. You’ll be surprised at how these small changes can show up as big savings on your utility bills and grocery tabs.

While The Great Depression isn’t a time anyone would want to relive, the wisdom, learned from necessity, is worth following today. Consuming less, reusing and repurposing, and limiting our waste is a smarter way to live financially and an eco-friendlier way to treat the Earth.

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  • Nancy P. 5 years ago
    We do this too!
  • Debby R. 5 years ago
    I do alot of these that were mentioned.
  • Laura S. 5 years ago
    I pledge.
  • Laura K. 5 years ago
    I grew up with recycling and thriftiness instilled in me by my parents. We never had to do these things out of necessity as we were always fairly well off, but I was taught to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Food was never thrown out, and weekly meals took leftovers into account. We reused old clothing for various purposes, and traveled miles to recycle bottles and cans (in the mid 1980s) before curbside recycling was ever thought of in my area. I was taught to shop sales and use coupons. The money saved allowed us to take many family vacations without having to worry about budgeting. We always had the view of "spend the money to do things now, because you never know if you're going to be back here again" when vacationing. My parents also saved well for retirement, and are now thoroughly enjoying it. I hope to be able to instill the same values in my family, and I hope any children I may have will grow up as lucky as me.
  • Eva R. 5 years ago
    makes sense
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