We can learn a lot about saving money and being sustainable from the Great Depression. It was a time when people didn’t have much but they did more with what they had.
Oklahoma was a very tough place to live during the Great Depression. Not only were Oklahomans dealing with the Great Depression but also the Dust Bowl.
My Great Grandmother lived in western Oklahoma during this time and talked about how you’d go to sleep with the house clean and wake up with dust on everything. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to live in Oklahoma during that time.
While I’m very grateful that we don’t have to deal with all that people did during the Great Depression and Dust Bowl, there were so many skills they used to survive that we have lost.
A crisis this generation is dealing with is climate change. We also are seeing landfills filling up, China no longer wants our recycling, and there are even signs that we could cause another Dust Bowl.
Re-learning some of the skills used out of necessity during the Great Depression could help us reduce our impact on the earth and hopefully help us prevent disasters in the future.
Lessons from the Great Depression
Grow Your Own Food
Oklahoma and the other areas impacted by the Dust Bowl had a harder time gardening but those that could were able to provide their families with fresh produce which was very difficult during the Great Depression.
Growing our own food is good for our budget and the environment. It’s also very important in Oklahoma since we have a large number of food deserts that make it hard for people to get fresh produce.
Additional Resource: The Best Gardening Tips
Reuse What You Already Have
Before you throw something away think about if there is a way you can use it. Now we have Google and Pinterest to help us find ways to reuse things.
You see a lot of memes about grandma’s having tins that you think are cookies and really they are holding sewing tools. People didn’t use to go out to buy a pretty storage box when they had a tin that would work perfectly well.
You don’t want to hoard things just because you could use them but do try to be more aware of using what you already have. You can also find Facebook groups where you can post things you have and no longer need that maybe someone else could use.
Additional Resource: Ways to Reuse Cardboard Boxes
Borrow Instead of Purchasing
When was the last time you went to the library? Do you just run out and buy something or order it from Amazon when you need it? Borrowing instead of buying new is a great way to reduce your impact on the planet and save money.
Start using your library more, not just for books but most also have movies, audiobooks and more. Some even have online libraries where you can rent ebooks. You can also try Kindle Unlimited to get access to a ton of ebook.
Consider also asking family and friends if they have an item you need only once or twice. There are also tool-lending libraries where you can check out tools instead of buying them. You can even rent clothes now.
Additional Resource: Sustainable Fashion- Is Clothing Rental the Answer?
Stop Wasting Food
Food was very precious during the Great Depression and now we waste 30-40% of our food. We need to go back to being more aware of food waste and try to prevent it.
Even food “scraps” can be used better than most of us do now. Soups and smoothies can use up veggie and fruit scraps. Bones can be used to make broth. There are many ways to better use the food we currently waste.
Additional Resource: How to Reduce Food Waste
Take Care of What You Have
And one of the most important lessons we can learn from the Great Depression is to take care of what we have. Everything you had was precious during the era.
You want to take care of the items you have and make them last as long as possible. With your clothing, this can mean things like washing them less often if they aren’t actually dirty hang them up and wear them again. And try line drying more often to keep your clothes in better shape.
Other examples would be to keep up with maintenance on your car, appliance and other things you own. Doing a little upkeep overtime keeps these things running and working longer so we have to buy less stuff and put less in the landfill.
We are lucky to not have to live during the Great Depression and Dust Bowl but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from that time. Using these skills and lessons can help us save a lot of money and also help us reduce our impact.