Pioneer-Inspired Green Living
- Saturday, 24 July 2010
There are lots of ways to be inspired to live a greener life. You might take notes from the Ed Begley Juniors of the world, or you might learn something from an ad in a magazine. Teens might be swayed by the latest Hollywood heartthrob, and parents may find inspiration from their kids' homework. In that spirit, we thought we'd share a few lessons about green living that we can all learn from pioneers in honor of Utah's Pioneer Day, which falls on July 24. Here are just a few ways we can take a cue from pioneers as we try to live a greener, more sustainable life.
Make The Most of Resources
As pioneers settled on the land, they had to clear forest in order to create a space to farm. This meant laborious removal of trees and stumps, but pioneers made the most of that resource. Wood was used to build log cabins for shelter, fences, furniture, pails, kitchen utensils, and even farming equipment.
We can take a cue from pioneers by choosing to make the most out of all of the resources we use, even if they seem like waste. Installing a graywater system is a great way to maximize water use, but don't forget to think about the small stuff—like saving popsicle sticks for crafts. Even baby steps, if you take enough of them, will have an impact.
Keep the Warm Air In
Pioneer families lived in log cabins, many of which had one open room for a couple of simple and practical reasons: a fireplace in the center of the cabin provided heat for the whole home; and until saw mills were built, the logs were difficult to prepare, and uniformity to prevent air leaks wasn't always possible. But as pioneers became more sophisticated in the design of their homes, air leaks were minimized and homes were warmer and more comfortable to live in.
How can you apply this to your life? Simple: Seal air leaks in your home. Many homes have significant air leaks in attics and basements. Sealing any open spaces around chimneys and attic hatches are the first step to a warmer home in winter and a cooler home in summer. Be sure to look for and seal cracks in your home's foundation, as well as drafts around windows and doors.
Eat What You Sow (Or Find)
Pioneers ate what was at hand. If they wanted to eat fish or game, they went hunting or fishing. Foods such as berries, herbs and vegetables were often gathered from the forest, and other fruits and vegetables, as well as grains were grown by the family. They also often raised chickens, pigs, goats and cows as a source of meat, eggs, and milk.
There are lots of ways you can follow in the pioneers' footsteps. A vegetable garden is a simple way to bring fresh foods to your meals. Not only will this save you money, but maintaining a garden is a bit of work, so you'll get some exercise too. People are also becoming more interested in foraging, both in the woods and in urban areas. You can find all sorts of foraged foods in your 'hood, from dandelions, which have delicious greens and flowers perfect for making wine, to pine nuts, which are the seeds found in pine cones. Many urbanites are also trying their hand at raising chickens to provide them with fresh eggs, and beekeeping is becoming increasingly popular. There are lots of ways you can grow or forage foods that provide quality nutrition and don't have the giant carbon footprint that foods purchased at the supermarket come with.
There are lots of other ways pioneers can inspire green living, so be sure to take a little time to learn more about how early settlers lived.