Important household skills, and the amount of people concerned with learning them, have majorly declined over the past century. Skills such as cooking and baking from scratch, repairing things, growing food, sewing or knitting clothes, and creating goods like candles and soap don’t seem to be on the priority lists of many anymore.
It’s easy to see why – modern times have us distracted with other important things, and to give us more time to deal with these distractions, companies have made much quicker, easier, and more automated ways of getting things done.
Now, we have mass production of things like clothes and appliances, which makes repairing the ones we already have seem obsolete to many. We have so many restaurants to choose from, and so many meals we can make in five minutes in the microwave, that making dinner from scratch simply isn’t necessary anymore.
Over time, people have become less connected to what they eat and what they use, because things seem to have less meaning when they’re bought, and not homemade. Modern conveniences are not bad, and are useful to everyone at times, but they have the undeniable effect of lessening the need for people to live in simple, sustainable, and satisfying ways, and learn the skills for how to do so. There are a lot of things I’m sure my grandparents know how to do that I do not, and I wish I did know them. In the past year or so, though, I have noticed a huge resurgence in the interest young adults have in learning the life skills of our grandparents.
Why is this?
People are once again learning these skills and subscribing to a more sustainable lifestyle in part because, for a long time, almost all of us have had the valid excuse of a lack of free time that was keeping us from reconnecting to the products we use, and the foods we eat. But now, with COVID-19 keeping many of us at home for a lot more hours in the day, it is an excellent time to try to gain some new skills or freshen up on skills we already have. In addition to this, there seems to have been a recent change in the minds of many young people about the importance of these skills.
Personally, I have always been interested in creating things for myself and living a sustainable life, with meaningful connections. But lately, like it does to many people in my generation, it seems even more important. As my generation grows into adults, we are realizing the value of living in a way that allows us to appreciate what we have more, and keep ourselves and our loved ones sustained off of things we can do ourselves.
It is important to minimize the negative effect we have on the planet as much as
possible, and live simply, and mindfully. Getting back to the so-called “olden days” type of activities and chores are something that my friends and I spend more and more of our time doing lately. In the past few weeks, I have made my own candles, my own soap, taken up crocheting, and picked apples with which I intend to make a pie.
In addition to those, here are some other ideas for simple ways you can bring more sustainability and authenticity to your life.
- In the summer, grow your own vegetable and fruit garden, so you can make meals out of your own produce. Year ‘round, have an herb garden in your kitchen.
If you have the ability, raise chickens for eggs, or goats or cows for milk, as well as for companions. Spending time with animals is a great way to practice mindfulness.
When an appliance or other item breaks, see if it is fixable before getting a new one. Try having a “broken things box” in your house where everyone puts their broken things, and before throwing them away, make an effort to repair them.
Stock your cupboards with basic baking necessities like flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, vegetable oil, and butter, so that you can bake any sweet treat you crave.
Chop your own firewood.
Make your own tea or coffee, instead of buying them each day.
Replace single-use products with reusable versions.
Resell and donate items, as well as shopping secondhand.
Allison Ervin, granddaughter of company founder Jay Lehman, is passionate about the powerless – children, animals and anyone in need. A freshman at Kent State majoring in international business with a minor in non-profit management, she has served in Indonesia and Central America, teaching English in daycare centers and orphanages. A committed vegetarian, when not studying or cat-cuddling, Allison enjoys painting, listening to the latest music, and thrifting (shopping at thrift and vintage stores).