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Go Green the Old Fashioned Way

Updated on January 16, 2012
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

Going old fashioned isn't just a statement. Environmentally conscious people can help save the planet by going back in time. No, time machines are not discussed here, unless tools from yesteryear count! Before the invention of the gas burning engine, men and women used muscle power to run their tools. Foot pedal sewing machines, crank beaters, and long handled gardening tools all made life easier while not polluting the planet.

Lawn and garden care is one place where even planet friendly individuals may find themselves at a loss on how to still care for their property without polluting. Electric trimmers and mowers have seen a boom in sales from people who have been convinced that electricity is cleaner than gas powered versions. While in theory this seems like a great idea- remember that electricity often comes from coal powered facilities. Unless the electricity powering the tools comes from an alternative source, such as solar or wind, the electric tool can still be responsible for pollution!

image via amazon
image via amazon

Tips for Going Green the Old Fashioned Way

Here are ideas to go green by using tools our grandparents used. Most of them take a little practice and energy but are inexpensive and easy to do.

Reel Mower

A Reel Mower can cut grass with no gas or electricity. Reel mowers are what people used before the invention of what is now thought of as a traditional lawn mower. Some refer to them as push mowers or people powered mowers. Unlike power mowers, reel mowers require little care, just blade sharpening and oil once or twice a season. There are large and small versions. Inventive types have mounted broken reel mowers to the front of a bicycle, creating a truly clean powered ride-on mower! Gorgeous, green lawns are never a problem with reel mowers. Power mowers tear grass, while reel movers trim it, much like scissors. The cut is clean, reducing browning.

Sling Trimmers

Sling trimmers are long handled blades used in place of a weed whacker. These are powered by, well, slinging the blade back and forth. Most useful for weed filled ditches and property lines.

Rain Barrel

A rain barrel is used by the side of a home to collect water from storms or showers in place of letting that water run off into sewers. Even in the country, run-off can cause problems by creating natural ditches in yards, washing away parts of lawns, and eroding foundations. Rain barrels can help eliminate these problems and give homeowners clean water for plants, large gardens, and bathing. Some people have created solar heated rain barrels that pipe rain water into their bathroom showers!

More Ideas for Green Living

There are others ways to go green, too!


Many people in the past had animals to feed their food scraps to. These days, not everyone has a pig in the backyard, though. For those who don't- try composting. While there are fancy compost bins for sale all over, all the really is needed is space. Food scraps, grass trimmings, leaves, and even cardboard can be composted by placing in a pile. Layer dirt, then compost material, then more dirt. As the pile grows, turn it with a pitchfork or shovel to aerate. Never add meat! It will smell and draw scavengers. For faster composting, earthworms can be introduced to the pile.

Use Your Property Wisely

Use the front lawn as a garden. Some towns have laws against this, so anyone interested in growing tomatoes instead of pansies should check local laws. If vegetable gardens are not allowed in the front yard, native wildflower gardens most likely are. Local agriculture agencies can offer information on what is native to an area, then may be able to help find seeds or seedlings to plant in the wildflower garden. This type of garden helps native insects, native animals, and can re-establish native plant species that are being threatened by building or invasive species.

Another thought is edible flowers. Many, like pansies, violets, and lavender, are edible when unsprayed.

Simple changes in routines and tools can have a huge impact on the Earth, saving it for future generations to enjoy.


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    • MemphisYankee profile image

      MemphisYankee 6 years ago from Tennessee

      Any recommendations for compost bins? A link to a product or a hub on building your own would be great! Thanks!

    • fancifulashley profile image

      fancifulashley 6 years ago

      I LOVE this hub! Very informative and useful. I have been wondering if they still sold reel mowers these days.

    • BWD316 profile image

      Brian Dooling 6 years ago from Connecticut

      great ideas! i've always want an old fashion people powered lawn mower and if i ever have a yard with grass i want one of those, its great for the environment and your wallet! Also like the rain barrel idea and the alternative yard usage, i've written about similar ideas! voted up!

    • Jennifer profile image

      Jennifer 8 years ago

      I like this hub! Great ideas.

    • Smireles profile image

      Sandra Mireles 8 years ago from Texas

      Very nice hub. You have some great suggestions for green living. Thanks.