Five Ways Our Ancestors Were “Sustainable” Before the Word Became Green

We hear the word “sustainability” often from our liberal friends as they propose one unnecessary thing after another that ends up taking away our right to live as we choose.

They take their cause du jour – whether it’s global warming (or climate change, they can’t decide) or acceptable levels of pollution or which bathroom people should use – and try to shove their ideals down people’s throats.

They cite the “latest scientific study” (which is usually disproven by the next scientific study) and use it to decide what’s right and what’s wrong, then try to make conservatives feel like Neanderthals if we disagree.

(They also endlessly preach tolerance, but then refuse to grant it to those who disagree with them. But that’s a subject for another day.)

The word “sustainability” itself is not bad. We should definitely engage in practices that have positive effects in the long-term and which take into consideration how our actions are going to affect our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc.

In fact, many of the people who helped make this country great, including our great-grandparents, were all about sustainability. How? Let’s look at five ways:


A bounty of freshly picked homegrown garden vegetables

They grew their own fruits and vegetables – free of pesticides, herbicides and additives – and when they did have to buy certain items, they relied on what was in season and available locally. And, of course, they cooked from scratch using whole foods.


clouseup legs with pair wool knitted socks. Green grass behind

They made many of their own clothing items, then handed them down when their children outgrew them. Once those items wore out, they were either re-knit into other garments or used for cleaning rags.

Household items.

Old straw broom on stressed wooden floor.

Many household items were made at home, including tools. When an item didn’t work well anymore, they fixed it or had someone else fix it, rather than purchasing a new one. If it was unfixable, they’d figure out a way to repurpose it.


window with flower box

They used commonsense methods to heat and cool their homes, including fireplaces, open windows at night and keeping draperies open or closed depending on the weather. Houses were kept smaller to conserve materials, and clothes were washed in cold water.


An island home behind a small garden on Kiriwina Island.

Like homes, yards were smaller to limit the amount of time and energy needed to maintain them. They used the area surrounding their homes to grow crops, store compost and give their animals the space they needed.

To your survival,

Frank Bates

P.S. We would do well to follow some of the sustainable practices our great-grandparents utilized. They always kept themselves as prepared for an uncertain future as possible.


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