What would grandmother do?

After surviving the holidays, the most wasteful time of the year, many of us need a break from all the consuming. A fresh start to the new year. A good guideline for simplifying your wardrobe and making it more sustainable is to think: What would grandmother do?

EmmiAlthough we are much more aware than, say, 50 years ago, we consume so, so, much more than our grandparents or even parents did. We have about four times the clothes our parents had at our age, let alone our grandparents.

The generation that lived the 2nd world war never owned many things, even when they could afford it. Their in-built stinginess, as we see it, was of course a product of wartime shortage, but nonetheless a lifestyle that valued any item in a more sustainable way than we do. Firstly, the purchase of something new was carefully considered. Secondly, everything including clothes was fixed, patched, reused, reversed and – above all – kept for as long as possible and then handed down to someone.

Do you need something new?

My mother’s mother was a teacher; a classy lady – however, her clothes could fit into fourth of the size of my wardrobe. Come to think of it, she probably wore the same dresses and blouses all the 18 years I knew her, but I never noticed. If she fancied something new, she knitted herself a jumper. She bought new linen, towels and tablecloths maybe once in two decades.

In a way, we now have better chances of leading sustainable and circular lives than gramps did. We have awareness, sustainably manufactured as well as organic choices, local and global marketplaces for pre-owned items, recycling and reuse possibilities.

The problem is actually not as much the end of lifecycle as the beginning. Why do we want so many things? We certainly don’t need them any more than gramps did.

Love your stuff longer

When gramps was young, ready made clothes were a luxury item. A new outfit was a much more laborious and expensive project than shopping these days. As any new item back then, a piece of clothing was owned and appreciated more and longer than our clothes. If we had all chosen and worn each item as gramps’ generation did, our overconsumption problems would not be as overwhelming as they are.

When gramps passed away, I remember us going through her things and finding piles of empty margarine tubs in her kitchen. She used them for food storage, of course! Us kids found that funny, of course.

Bridging the gap between these two, the wasteful generation shifting more towards the thrifty, is however much needed in the current situation.

I fully admit that I haven’t been ready for it until recently, but better late than never. Are you?

Happy New Year & Stay sustained <3

Emmi