Did your mom teach you how to clean with white vinegar? Or how to save money by reusing things around the house? Or maybe she instilled in you a love of nature, or a respect for the other people and animals that share our planet. My mom was not particularly eco-friendly, but she did have a hand in the woman I am today. And so I thank her for that.
In honor of Mother's Day, I asked friends from across the street and across the web to share with me the best green advice their moms ever gave them. Here's what they had to say:
"My mother was a big one for using truisms to teach her kids lessons. She was into the Precautionary Principle long before it had that fancy name. To us, she repeated over and over again, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." We weren't rich by any means, and she survived the Great Depression, so it was plain old common sense to avoid making a mess that could be expensive to clean up. And with five kids, she didn't want the hassle if she could avoid it! Another truism of hers that's stuck with me over the years is "Waste not, want not." She was a master at using every bit of something before she finally had to throw it away. Maybe her most important lesson, though, was one that's gotten me through a lot of worries about how this vulnerable planet of ours is doing. "Look on the bright side," she'd say. "Things could be a lot worse." - Diane MacEachern, www.biggreenpurse.com
"Turn the lights off in your bedroom! (She gave me that advice probably every day of my childhood.)" - Robin Shreeves, MNN's Food Blogger
"She did always tell me to wear my clothes more than once and to shower less often to save water." - Jennifer Sanford, Luray, VA
"As a teenager, I remember my mother working hard to teach me the difference between needs and wants. When I would be deliberating endlessly about which shirt or skirt or sweater to buy, my mother would say, "you know, one of the choices is to do without." I also grew up hearing the old pioneer adage: Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without. My mother taught me that you can resole a pair of shoes you love, instead of buying a new pair. I wonder how hard it so to find a place that does this anymore." - Betsy Escandon, http://eco-novice.com
"Leave it better than you found it - usually this meant picking up trash at the campsite, park, etc." - Kristin Vaughn, Luray, VA
"My Mom showed me nature was to be felt, tasted, smelled and enjoyed. She told me to use all of my senses to experience the world around me: to jump into mud puddles barefooted, to smell the air after a storm, to race into the waves and dive over them headfirst, to taste not just the sweet strawberries that grew in our yard but the sour cherries as well. She taught me to "be in nature" not just to see it!" - Harriet Shugarman, www.ClimateMama.com
"If its yellow let it mellow.....(you know the rest!) We lived in an old farmhouse w/an unreliable well..SAVE WATER!!" - Jane Quadri, Luray VA
"My Mom taught me how to sew my own clothes and how to mend things that were ripped or torn instead of throwing them away. She taught me how to make smart choices when I purchased things - to buy things that would last instead of cheaply made goods. She also taught me how to cook using fresh, healthy ingredients and how to appreciate many different types of foods. I am incredibly grateful to my Mom for teaching me skills that help me to create a wonderful, healthy world for myself and my family!" - Micaela Preston, www.mindfulmomma.com
"My mom didn't teach me to cook or sew or play in nature or do anything particularly "green." What she taught me was to accept everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, physical ability, and even religion, despite being LDS (Mormon.) When my parents lived in Hawaii, they took in a Micronesian couple who had been evicted. My parents and brother lived in a small condo, and yet they tried to make room for whoever needed help. In Maryland, they provided a home for several refugees from Sierra Leon. My mom loved hearing about other people's cultural experiences.
My mom also taught me to love books. Up until a year or two before she died, you could always find her with her nose in a book, even when she'd gotten to the point where she couldn't remember what she'd just read. My mom was an amazing and creative teacher (she taught elementary school and various church classes) and was never satisfied to simply lecture. If I have any creativity, it's from her." - Beth Terry, http://myplasticfreelife.com
"My mom exampled scratch cooking in a time of boxed skillet dinners, she created a sense of order and home. Our home was beautiful. My mom could do just about anything, from an intricate craft to shoveling the driveway - she was industrious, capable and savvy. Insanely frugal. She was a master at thrift shopping and coupons." - Karen Hanrahan, http://bestofmotherearth.com
"My mom showed me how to handle using cloth diapers. It was a pain but seemed like the right thing to do for the environment." - Amy Gubler, Luray, VA
Thank you to everyone who contributed to this piece. All of this great green advice is truly inspirational!
Care to share the best green advice that your mom ever gave you? Let me know in the comments below. I'd love to hear it!