The old know more about sustainable living than any spotty nosed teen

Yesterday I wrote about the patronising “elbow your elders” propaganda being pushed by School Strike 4 Climate NZ@schoolstrike4c1. It is completely ironic that the youth of today who live such unsustainable lives should be lecturing their grandparents on sustainable living in order to save the planet.

My parents and their parents had a much lighter ‘carbon footprint’ than any youth of today. My maternal grandparents, who lived in Opotiki, had a large garden and lots of fruit trees. Organic produce wasn’t a thing back then; it was just something that everyone did with their quarter acre sections. When I was little I got to collect eggs from the chook house.

My Nana was a full-time homemaker, so there was lots of homemade clothing, bedding, baking and preserved fruit and vegetables from the garden. Her preserved gherkins were the best I have ever tasted, large, crunchy and tangy. I remember huge preserving jars filled with yellow peaches on the shelves.

My parents walked everywhere or used a bike or a horse when they were children. My Great Nana on my Dad’s side cooked everything on a wood burning stove. A pot of hot stew was always bubbling. Each day more was added to it. Nothing went to waste.

Things were cleaned with lots of elbow grease and white vinegar. It was not a world of instant this or convenience. Everything took time. Reusing and recycling wasn’t a thing back then, but everyone still did it because that was the norm.

It is not possible to return to this era, and no youth of today are going to give up the convenience and instant gratification of the technology of today. If they want to have some aspects of a sustainable lifestyle they would do well to ask their grandparents for pointers, since they were growing organic produce and living simply long before their grandchildren were a twinkle in their daddy’s eye.

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