My grandmother was the most amazing woman I ever met. She was loving, she was kind, and boy was she frugal. And while I haven’t quite taken on everything that she did, I have been realizing lately how many things she taught me that were Zero Waste. Now she wasn’t trying to be Zero Waste, she was simply trying to stretch her dollar, but I think we could take a few lessons from her, and most of her generation.
- Wash your clothes on cold
Now I know most washing machines have a warm setting, but the truth is, it is bad for your electricity bill, and bad for your clothes. The colors and the fabrics will fade faster on most items, and some may even shrink or stretch over time.
- Wear your clothes more than once
If you go for a jog, I am not suggesting you then wear those clothes to a dinner party, but the truth is, most clothes aren’t dirty after the first time you wear them.
Sometimes, I can get two or three wears out of an outfit before I need to wash it – and trust me, no one has ever noticed. Give it a try and see if it works for you! Note: I do not do this with underwear, socks, or anything that gets sweaty. If it seems gross, wash it, but if it seems fine, it probably is.
- Repair Repair Repair
Long before it was part of the beautifully trendy set of Zero Waste R’s, this was simply how things were done. If your clothing got a hole, if the zipper broke, the first instinct was to mend it. Buying new clothes back then cost a whole lot more than repairing it yourself or getting it repaired or tailored professionally. And while these days, there might not quite be the cost-saving their once was, this is still so important. Repairing your clothes means saving on the planet’s resources, and that is something we could all do a little more of.
- Make something old new again
When a piece of clothing gets old, it isn’t only good to be made into rags (although rags are a perfectly fine way to use up old fabric too). Old clothing can be made into some of the cutest accessories or home goods. I have seen people make purses, bags, napkins, handkerchiefs and more. The only limit to what you can make is the limit to your creativity. Get creative and see what brand new, one-of-a-kind items you can make.
- Hand me downs and second hand
There is a huge stigma around secondhand, or at least that’s what I hear when it comes to family hand me downs. We need to rethink the system. Take a look at your parent’s old clothes, and see how many of them have come back into style in the last ten years. I am not saying hold on to every piece of clothing that you get, but remember that it could have a brand new home with someone you already know.
Did your grandma ever give you any tips that you didn’t want to hear at the time? I know back when I was a kid, the idea of hand me downs, or any advice really, it fell on deaf ears, but now, I wonder why I didn’t take her advice before. We could all learn something from previous generations and their way of life.