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Here’s to the moms who were green before green was cool

By Melissa Segrest Green Right Now Once upon a time, before plastic water bottles and giant plasma TVs and prepackaged foods and paper towels, there were moms who went about...

By Melissa Segrest
Green Right Now

Once upon a time, before plastic water bottles and giant plasma TVs and prepackaged foods and paper towels, there were moms who went about their days doing Earth-friendly things.

For some of them it’s a vague memory. For others it may be only legend and lore. But yes, there was a time without liquid detergents and big grocery stories and electric dryers.

Let’s not fool ourselves. Pesticides and lead and aluminum foil and fossil fuel pollution also were part of everyday life back in the 1950s, ‘40s, ‘30s and before. That’s not Mom’s fault. She didn’t know what we know today.

Kitchen towels, a concept so quaint, there's even a book about it. Fun and Collectible Kitchen Towels by Michelle Hayes.

Kitchen towels, a concept so quaint, there's even a book about it.

In honor of Mother’s Day, we’ve counted eight ways that moms of yore took care of Mother Earth, even if it wasn’t intentional:

1. Cloth napkins, kitchen towels and handkerchiefs

Before millions of trees had to die, there was cloth. Kleenex have been around for quite a while (since the mid 1920s) and Scott paper towels rolled out in 1931, but before that – and even for some time after – moms didn’t change their habits.

Cloth napkins were practical and pretty, and made of natural fabrics until paper products started to push them into dining room drawers. We suspect there are plenty of moms who still prefer soft cloth kitchen towels rather than endless rolls of paper towels.

Handkerchiefs were the order of the day, as long as centuries ago. In the 1940s, dapper men wouldn’t be seen without their pocket handkerchief folded neatly into the jacket’s left breast pocket.

Handkerchiefs also had a practical purpose – blowing the nose. Sanitary? Maybe not; practical, yes.


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