When we were kids, we didn’t realize the green practices we had on our regular days. I grew up very far away from here and I remember having a very different lifestyle to the one I have today in terms of sustainability. My family used to consume local products, similar to what we know as having an “organic diet” now. Our kitchen was always full of fresh fruits and vegetables, and I remember frozen food was perceived as a really unhealthy option. These products would never come packed in plastic bags and the normal packaging was paper or cardboard. Also, I remember my grandmother carrying her shopping bag before it was trendy on Instagram (actually, way before Instagram even existed).
Even artificial products, such as soda, came in recyclable materials like glass and we had to return the bottles to the store, so the company could use them again. Is this what we now know as circular economy? I guess so. Also, there was a small mobile shop that I will call the food truck predecessor, selling grains in bulk. You would never get a plastic bag from them. They would give you a paper cone with your product inside, from rice to beauty products such as cream and shampoo. If you’re wondering about the cream staying on the paper, it’s actually less than what stays in the plastic packaging that we use today.
In terms of quality of the products I dare to say that everything was better. For example, the most popular soap brand in Mexico, considered a legacy because you can find at least one of their products in every house, has been recognized as one of the most sustainable brands with their being products biodegradable. It feels as if the massive production and consumption led to an increase in the use of chemicals and bad practices from companies but also from us as consumers.
In my house I barely saw plastic containers. I remember most of the packaging were made of aluminum or glass and like in most of the Latin households, we would reuse everything. When plastic started being a thing, buying yoghurt for example, meant having a new food container or a new flowerpot. We were used to repair our stuff and only buy what we needed. I guess it was the fact that it wasn’t as easy to trash and get a new one of whatever, so we needed to make it work.
In terms of fashion, we would use our clothes for a long time. I believe we weren’t worried about having the garments from the latest season and brands were not releasing a new collection every two months. The concept of fast fashion was completely unfamiliar to us and mending our clothes was a normal practice. My great grandmother had a special appreciation for her garments and until her last day we fought her to trash some of them instead of keep mending them (some had no solution, I swear).
Writing this brings mixed feelings because I appreciate the convenience that we enjoy today, but definitely reject the lack of value that we give to our stuff. It feels like we’re competing to have more but don’t stop to appreciate it. If we did, we would repair and mend, and nothing would be a replaceable as it is now. We need to go back to the start and doing so it’s easier than ever. Just take a look at what’s trendy now, shops that invite you to consume local products, tutorials everywhere on how to plant your own herbs, options to substitute plastic, organic products and education on how to be eco-friendlier. Think about your sustainable journey, I’m sure you will find many old actions that you can integrate to your lifestyle now.
We would love to hear about the sustainable practices in your past, so please share it with us!