Grandma’s greener than you

That’s the subject of my most recent USA TODAY column–about how, by living as frugally as possible, Americans who lived through the Depression (or other lean times) came up with eco-friendly solutions that we now spend good money trying to approximate. Today’s seniors who raised their own chickens and made dresses out of re-purposed feed sacks have more green cred than most of us can dream of! On the other hand, many of their methods did take a lot of time. Gathering soap chips to make your own household cleaners is cheaper than buying an eco-friendly commercial version, but probably not as efficient. Precisely because unemployment was so widespread during the Depression, people felt like they had more time to do things. Time and money will often be trade-offs, and as people become wealthier (which they certainly are now vs. during the Depression) they will tend to exchange what is less scarce (money) for what is more (the 168 hours we all have each week which, alas, are completely inelastic).

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