Sunday, March 30, 2008

Doing our part for the good of the earth.

I grew up with my parents and seven siblings. No, we weren't Mennonite or Mormon or Catholic. We were just a big family. We were poor but always had food to eat and clean clothes to wear.
We were raised in a house with no running water or indoor plumbing. We did have electricity. We used an outhouse and pumped our water from a well. We didn't have central heating. We used a coal stove and in later years an oil burner, for heating our eight room home, during the winter. There was no air conditioning. We had huge pine trees that lined the front of the house, and ash and walnut trees growing all around the house and this kept us cool in the summer.
Mom and dad always had a huge garden and we grew a lot of our food. Mom did a lot of canning. Often we went wild apple, pear and plum picking because they were free for the taking. Extended family, neighbours and sometimes friends of neighbours always sent their extra produce over to us for mom to cook up or can. "Waste not, want not" was practised by everyone. If you couldn't use it then you would pass it on to someone who could. People recycled everything.
Dad would often go to farmers and get meat butchered on the farm. No prepackaged meat from the store.
Lights were always turned off in the rooms not being used. Mom would always bake a dessert while dinner was cooking in the oven. That saved on electricity being used.
My mom used an old wringer washer and cold water from the well to wash laundry. She had to hang the clothes out to dry. She did this year round. There was no electric or gas dryer. Mom and dad were both conscious of saving electricity because it cost money. They never knew that they were doing good for the environment at the same time.
We had a hand pump that got the water up out of the well. You never wasted water. EVER! The dirty dish-washing water was used to water plants either in the house or the garden.We had full baths once a week in an old wash tub that was filled with hot water heated on the stove. During the week we did daily sponge baths to keep clean.
We had a slop hole out back that mom would put veggie peelings, bath water and laundry water not used for the garden into. Each spring Dad would dig up and use the ground from this area and spread it around the garden. I wonder if he knew that he was composting?
We recycled clothing. Family and neighbours would send hand me downs and gently used clothing to us. They were always appreciated. We used and then passed down and around all clothing until it was so worse for wear that it ended up in the rag bag. Then it did double duty as cleaning rags and car engine repair wipes. Nothing was ever wasted.
When we kids wanted spending money we would take a wagon and a cardboard box and start walking beside the road, looking in ditches, for pop bottles. We did this every couple of weeks. We were recycling back then and didn't know it.
Once I was married and in my own home I still turned out lights and used the dish water for the garden that John and I grew every year. Over the years we gave up doing a big garden and the water got poured down the drain.
For a number of years, we got away from doing the"green thing" but in the last ten or so years, we have started turning back to the green path and are to trying to do our part for the good of the earth.
Last night , on Earth Day, we turned out our lights for an hour like a whole lot of people around the globe. All the lights including the back yard sensor light and the little green night light in the hallway got turned off. So did the computers and the furnace.
I like to think that we do our part, albeit a small one, in helping the world stay a little greener.
We recycle whatever we can. We are using the energy saver light bulbs. Our appliances all have a good energy rating. We turn down the furnace thermostat. Yes, we do have two vehicles, and we do drive them, but we do take the 4 cylinder car out more often rather than the 6 cylinder van. The car uses less gas, is better for the environment (re: emissions) and is easier on our pocket book as well.
I know that all these things aren't much, but they are a start and they do make us "green earth" conscious.
We are, I hope, doing our part for the good of the earth.

1 comment:

Just Jaime said...

I love reading bits of memories from your childhood mom; I can close my eyes, hear your voice and picture all of this happening. :)