I don’t have that many memories of Nanny on my Mums side as she passed away when I was 5 but I do have lots of memories of the house she lived in with my Grandad. The garage was full of tools with anything you could possible need to fix whatever it was that had broken, the garden always looked beautiful and the kitchen was full of Tupperware brought 20 years ago, ingredients to make everything from scratch (you always had a homemade pudding), and there was an Imperial Leather bar of soap in the downstairs bathroom (the smell of that particular soap takes me right back to their house every time.) I’m quiet sure that these are the memories that most people will have or their Grandparents house. Anyone else think that their Grandparents just had it right?
When I first started this whole zero waste journey my Mum also started thinking about her waste and quickly become my “Comrade in arms”, and more often than not when we talk about the things we could do she will say “Nanny used to do this”. Because rewind 60 years to when my Grandparents brought their first house and started their family and they didn’t have a cupboard full of cleaning products or conveniences and they seemed to do everything just fine. Better even.
Don’t get me wrong we have certainly moved on from the 50’s and there is definitely certain conveniences I would like to keep. My modern cloth nappies for one, and the washing machine too, I really don’t fancy boiling a load of old terry towels and scrubbing them in a tub in the garden either, but they did have the answer to a lot of things and maybe looking into the past for inspiration is exactly what we need to save our precious planet in the next 11 years.
Number 1. Food shopping. My Mum says Nanny never left the house without a string bag rolled up in her hand bag. She had a box of vegetables delivered, walked to the butchers every week and got her meat wrapped in wax paper, and had milk delivered in glass bottles. Tick, we now do all of these, expect I take my own container to the butchers. Pretty much all supermarkets will let you do this too if they have a meat counter.
Number 2. Cleaning products. On my Dads side of the family my Nanny Gorman was left a widow with 6 children to bring up, she worked as a waitress, yet when talking to my Dad and Aunty recently they recalled how she took so much pride in her home you had never seen such smooth, shiny copper pipes because she polished them every week. Everything was clean and all without the help of Mr Muscle, just bicarbonate of soda, vinegar and some fresh lemons. All of which can be put to use on pretty much anything around your home.
This is another tick. What amazed me most about ridding our home for chemicals is how it makes you so sensitive to them. I recently found an old bottle of bathroom cleaner that I forgot I had under the sink so thought I would use it up. The smell gave me a headache while cleaning and Mat commented he could still smell it two days later. It actually made me uncomfortable taking the baby into the bathroom because it just didn’t feel right with that heady smell. But amazingly what I noticed the most was that it didn’t actually clean any better than the hot soapy water and vinegar spray I use to clean the bathroom normally.
Number three. Fix it if you can. Ok my Grandad was an engineer by trade and loved to tinker with things. When he retired he volunteered maintaining and old model railway. Mat and I are…. well less like that, but it doesn’t mean we can’t try. Well actually what we normally do is convince a friend to help us in exchange for a lovely meal and a bottle of wine, (we’re better cooks than DIY gurus) or find an handy man. Failing that, why not put it on free cycle, someone out there might be able to put it to better use.
Number four. Appreciate what you own and look after it. This can most definitely be said for all of my Grandparents. They never brought anything for the sake of it and when they did they saved their penny’s, brought well, looked after it and made it last, because they could afford to do anything else and I think this is a trate we could all do with a little more of.
Did your Grandparents do certain things or have certain habits you think we could do with a little more of now?