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Living Life the Old Fashioned Way

Avatar for Gaye Levy Gaye Levy  |  Updated: November 24, 2020
Living Life the Old Fashioned Way

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There is a tendency in all of us to compare the old to the new.  This is especially true in the preparedness community where in anticipation of hard times ahead, we look to our parents and grandparents for ideas for living a self-reliant and sustainable life.

I have been thinking about that a lot lately; even to the extent that I have considered sewing up some long skirts and pioneer-style aprons that will hold up to a week or two of wear without laundering.  Seriously.

Living Life the Old Fashioned Way | Backdoor Survival

Anyway, the following piece has been circulating the web for awhile.  I thought it was worth bringing back since it describes a not-so-long ago time when the term “green” referred to the color of your grass or the money in your pocket (green stuff).

As I was reading this, it occurred to me that many of these old-fangled ways of doing things fall right in line with what each of us would be required to do in a crisis or emergency with limited sources of power, few goods available on the shelves, and a cost of living so high that there was little left for discretionary spending.

Perhaps it is time to redefine “green” in old-fashioned terms as we strive to live our lives the old fashioned way.

The Old-fashioned, Old Fogey Rules of Sustainability

In the line at the store, the cashier told the older woman that she should bring her own grocery bag because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment. The woman apologized to him and explained, “We didn’t have the green thing back in my day.”

The clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. The former generation did not care enough to save our environment.”

He was right, that generation didn’t have the green thing in its day. Back then, they returned their milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.

But they didn’t have the green thing back in that customer’s day. In her day, they walked up stairs, because they didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. They walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time they had to go two blocks.

But she was right. They didn’t have the green thing in her day.

Back then, they washed the baby’s diapers because they didn’t have the throw-away kind. They dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts – wind and solar power really did dry the clothes. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that old lady is right; they didn’t have the green thing back in her day.

Back then, they had one TV, or radio, in the house – not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief, not a screen the size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen, they blended and stirred by hand because they didn’t have electric machines to do everything for them.

In summer, they slept with the windows open, perhaps even out on sleeping porches, because most homes and apartments lacked air conditioning. Some people still live in those archeological relics in most cities today.  When they packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, they used a wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

Back then, they didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. They used a push mower that ran on human power. They exercised by working so they didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.  But she’s right; they didn’t have the green thing back then.

They drank from a fountain when they were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time they had a drink of water. They refilled their writing pens with ink  instead of buying a new pen, and they replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But they didn’t have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or rode the school bus instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. They had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And they didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

But isn’t it sad the current generation laments how wasteful the old folks were just because they didn’t have the green thing back then?


The Final Word

To use a cliché, there is some serious stuff going down.  My tin foil hat is rattling itself as it sits on the shelf, and I am at full-time alert waiting for the next shoe to drop.  Because of that, I chose to lighten things up today.  Stay tuned for more of our regular programming on Wednesday!

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

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48 Responses to “Living Life the Old Fashioned Way”

  1. Oh, and one other note about leaning old ways. Use You Tube! There are short videos on spinning, knitting, splitting wood and a lot of other useful skills. If you have internet, you should be able to access those videos.

  2. I’ve worn jeans most of my life. Last year, I just got tired of it. I bought the Folkwear Walking Skirt pattern (which I’ve wanted for years). I sewed up two cotton skirts from it and a petticoat using another Folkwear pattern. I thought I’d try it out for a year and see how I felt about it.

    I’m still wearing one of those skirts and the petticoat. I need to get around to making a second petticoat, but I’ve managed with just one. The skirt is great to wear and looks classy. I don’t look like some old lady in pajamas. Folks seem to treat you differently and no one expects me to do really dirty jobs (although I’ve worn these skirts on dump runs.)

    • Oh my gosh. I did a search in Google for the Folkwear Walking Skirt and want one. I am not talented enough to sew one myself and I didn’t see anyone offering these as a custom design on Etsy. I will just have to find myself a talented seamstress.

  3. I love this story about our past generations not “having this green thing”. Unfortunately what many generations, including my own (I’m in my thirties), lack is common sense. I am grateful every day to be a member of my family- while they wouldn’t be considered preppers, they are skilled. Not many people can say they have use able spinning wheels, let alone the ability to actually sit down and use them. I have a pantry full of canned foods we grew in our garden. Our youngest is wearing a cloth diaper. In the New England winter we do use oil heat but dont even bat an eye at the power going out, our woodstove and oil lamps may look silly and old fashioned to some but they work wonderfully! Even the fact that people are lost without their microwave or electric stove during a power outage is ridiculous to me- like I said, just a little common sense. Dont get me wrong, I enjoy the modern conveniences, but I absolutely have an immense appreciation for the skills and simplicity my family has passed down the line. The world will be in a sorry state if that shoe does ever indeed drop!

  4. Hurricane Ike reached into Southwest Ohio.

    By the time it got here the winds were down to between 70 to 80 miles an hour.

    It still took off roofs and knocked down power lines. Lots of downed trees causing damage and making it dangerous.

    My Mom grew up on a farm without electricity on the Ohio/Pennsylvania border. Electricity had not yet reached the countrside then.

    I know lots of this stuff to do, but am on a mission to do better.

  5. …and how come, today, all of the stores have computerized bar-coded inventory control and scanners, and yet, back when they merely had price stickers on items, and a cashier rang them up by hand on a real cash register, the stores were better stocked, and the check-out lines moved faster?!

    I hate this high-tech world they’ve created. I was blessed to grow-up in the late 60’s and early 70’s, so I was able to get a glance of the former world- when things (and people) were real- and I MISS those days! I continue to do most things the old-fashioned way, as life is just so much better that way.

    One of the worst things today, is seeing every 8 year-old with a cell phone and the ability to text and use the internet, and have a TV in their room. They basically have unlimited access to the world, without the guidence of parents- this is going to be the worst generation in history!

    • Wait until those youngsters are somewhere that there is no cell service, no internet, and no TV. Every few minutes you hear the “I BORED!” when there are a thousand things they could be doing to be NOT bored.
      The really scary thought is – what are they going to do if there is a massive grid failure!?!?

    • The scary thing is, they don’t HOW to do anything. They can’t do even basic math without a calc/phone/computer; they can’t read a normal map; they have no skills at fixing things, or even using the most basic tools and equipment- if they can’t do it by pressing button and having it done automatically for them…they can’t do it. All it’s going to take to render them all completely helpless, is to turn the power off, or stop the flow of/or access to gadgets…and I often wonder if maybe that is the plan.

    • Add cooking to the list. I now lots of young people 35 and under that eat out 90% of the time. The rest of the time they eat microwave dinners and top ramen.

    • It’s not all the youngens. More and more are getting back to real world basics. As they do so, they are teaching some of us oldsters how to blend the old and new. All is not lost. These kids are smarter and wiser than what appears on the surface. As with many other generations, it’s far easier to see those who need a little ‘fixin’ than to see these awesome aware youngsters in the 20s and 30s. They are seeing how to be in the world and not of the world. 🙂

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