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Depression era frugality can help us green our lives today

Sewing is a frugal green activity.
Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

My mom lived through the Great Depression. Consequently, I learned a lot of lessons in green frugality. She taught me that people living in the depression era knew how to be careful with their money. Frugality was highly praised, rather than looked down on as it is today. Some of those frugal people became quite wealthy after the depression eased because they continued their thrifty habits. Here are some suggestions for frugality borrowed from the depression era which may help us green our lives today.

Don't throw things away without thinking.

It's easy in today’s consumer society to get into a pattern of throwing things away. In the depression era, people didn't throw anything away unless it had served its full usefulness. Instead they would ask themselves a few questions.

  • Can the item be repaired?

  • Can it be used for another purpose?

  • Could someone I know use this item?

  • Could it be made into something else?

If the answer to any of those questions was yes, that item didn't go into the trash.

In the depression era, there was no such thing as designer clothing.

Clothing was purchased on a budget or handmade. If there were any small holes or tears the clothing was mended. Even socks were patched and darned. If an item no longer fit, it was handed down or given to someone it would fit. When clothing could no longer be worn it was made into rags or quilts. There was no such thing as paper towels. Even rags were washed and used over and over.

Frugality in the kitchen was essential during the depression.

Going out to eat was rare or non-existent in most families. Everything was made from scratch. There were no prepackaged foods. Nothing was wasted. Today's chicken bones became tomorrows soup broth. Produce came from your own garden or that of a friend or neighbor. In summer, you had fresh produce. In winter, you used goods you canned yourself. Sauces, jams and condiments were all homemade. The jars they were made in were cleaned and reused the following year.

People in the depression era learned many useful skills.

It was not unheard of to pay for repairs but it was rare. If you couldn't repair an item, you traded whatever skill you had with someone who could repair it for you. Everyone helped each other out. It didn't matter if you got along with a person or not. If they were in a jam and you had the means to help them, you were right there to do so.

Shopping for the best deal.

When something had to be purchased in the depression era, a lot of consideration went into it. Sources of used items were considered first. If nothing used was available, then the process moved on to new items. There were no spur of the moment purchases. Everything purchased was a necessity for the most part.

Holidays were no exception to the frugality rule.

Not everyone could afford gifts at Christmas. Some just celebrated the spirit of the season. A lot of gifts were handmade. Anything you received was a treasure because you knew most gifts required a sacrifice on the part of the giver. Finding an orange or a small piece of candy in your stocking was cause for celebration. Depression era people appreciated life's simple pleasures. We can learn alot from their example.

This article was previously published by this author on a now closed Yahoo property.

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