Waste not: Adages for careful and carefree living
"We were just very frugal people– maybe other people might say 'cheapskate,' but we've always lived that way, and I liked it– it always feels good when I get a good bargain," says part-time Charlottesvillian Lynn McNair (and mother to Hook reporter Dave McNair). "Going green is going back to what I grew up with– you make use of everything."
McNair's childhood was one of the original green upbringings, one that modern parents might strive to recreate for their children. From a backyard garden with fruit trees and a grape arbor, to chickens, ducks, and rabbits raised for consumption, McNair experienced "local" living without the luxury of modern-day wealth.
"My father never earned much money, but we lived so well," she remembers. "In the summers, we had a place at the beach where my father was a shell fisherman, so we lived on crabs, clams, and oysters. My mom made jams and jellies and canned everything, and she sewed all our clothes."
If this picturesque lifestyle seems too good to be true, McNair, 75, insists that living frugally– and greenly– wasn't always easy. When she had to return to work as a widow with two small children, her careful lifestyle changed– less time to garden, less time to be picky about choosing the best bargain. But she learned to cope with new strategies: going to farmers' markets for most of her fresh groceries, shopping at thrift stores, buying second-hand cars. And the payoff, she says, was tremendous.
"We lived very carefully," she says. "Because of our upbringing, we knew how to stretch things. I was green long before you guys– each generation comes up with these ideas and thinks they're brand now, but they're so old it's ridiculous."
Lynn's tips for careful (and green!) living:
-Make use of what you have– if you have leftovers, make use of them– and be more careful about how much you buy so you don't end up wasting it.
-Stay away from the plastic stuff that lasts forever– I use a library bag for most things now.
-When you buy home-grown meat, it tastes different from the meat you buy in the grocery store with cellophane wrap and whatnot. I'm delighted to see we're going back to that.
-Keep a budget– the middle class is having a rough time, but you can do a lot on a little if you're careful.