Secrets to Successful Eco-Friendly Living from One Generation to the Next
By Sandra Ann Harris

Wisdom passed down to us from our grandparents is an invaluable gift. They can teach us how to take care of our planet with a little more compassion. And we can pass on some tips and tricks to our elders as well!

Sandra Ann Harris, social entrepreneur and founder of ECOlunchbox, encourages families to share their valuable knowledge with each other in hopes of leaving the planet a better place for future generations. Below are her tips for getting started.

Making It Last

We live in a throwaway culture. Take cues from our grandparents’ generation, and when something breaks fix it! Mend clothes, sew buttons, fix electronics, get replacement parts, lids and clips to keep things tickin’. It’s a good thing we live in a time with YouTube tutorial videos! With a couple of keywords, you can click to learn anything on there.

Old Habits Die Hard

Before the newfound interest in eco-living and eco-friendly products, our grandparents produced less waste simply through the way they lived.

Taking care of belongings, saving money through reuse and conservation, and a genuine belief that things are meant to last naturally cut down their carbon footprint.

Green Cleaning

Many of our grandparents cleaned strictly with vinegar and baking soda. We’re learning anew these days that these non-toxic cleaning items can be used to clean surfaces, rugs, the dog, even unclog a sink!

Washing by hand and hanging clothes on the line quickly reduces energy use and extends the longevity of your wardrobe. You can call these green cleaning practices “good ole fashioned common sense” or the “art of eco laundry” -- up to you!

Embrace minimalism by cutting down on products, clothing, and any needless excess clutter. Need help with decluttering? Check out at your local library “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo.

Teach Your Elders Well

Listening goes both ways. Now it’s time for the youngins to chime in with some 21st century tips. No doubt that living an eco-friendly life requires a toolkit as well as a bit of savviness. Our world is a changin’, so let's spread the eco-friendly love across the generations and pass on a few 21st century tricks to our elders.

Eco-Friendly= Ocean Friendly!

Reducing plastic use at home directly affects the health of the ocean. Other eco-friendly tips include checking products like sunscreen for toxins such as oxybenzone and added fragrances that damage the ocean and replacing plastic straws with metal or bamboo.

Eliminating plastic also benefits those with a compromised immune system, which can often include the elderly.

By working together, across Generations, our lives bloom a little greener. Celebrate lessons learned from our grandparents and share what you know. This creates an everlasting bond, between generations and between ourselves and the planet.

ABCs of Recycling

Recycling can be tricky. Some things look like paper but are actually coated with plastic, such as juice and milk cartons, so they need to be trashed. Other things like oily pizza boxes are made from paper but they actually need to be composted - not recycled. Plastic bags can sometimes be recycled curbside if they’re stuffed in a bag all together, but other times you have to hunt down a collection center at a local grocery store.

So pop online with your elders and find the specific recycling rules and regs for your grandparents’ hometown or retirement community.

We all know a picture is worth a thousand words so try and find a chart online to post next to your grandparents’ recycling bins. Or as a fun project the grandkids can make some arty labels to attach to the bins so there’s no forgetting what goes where.

Make easy to understand labels and attach them to bins placed under the sink or in another convenient spot.

Home is Where the Eco Heart is

Embrace cooking at home like our grandparents did. Cut down on food waste and packaging by using scraps to make broth and soups. Reconfigure leftovers into a whole new meal. Eating out increases packaging waste and gas emissions.

Shop smarter, put together a solid pantry full of staples, and master the art of canning and pickling. Grow a garden, even a small herb garden, to cut down on food costs and get closer to nature.

Say goodbye to unnecessary Plastics such as the broken-down Tupperware containers that are likely leaching BPA and other toxins by strategically replacing with stainless steel ECOlunchboxes or glass containers.

Let them know all ECOlunchbox products include tare weights so they can be used at the deli counter or in the bulk food.


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