Posted by: COSI | May 13, 2011

Naturally Green—Mom’s Legacy

I’ve had a tough time getting back to writing—losing my wife’s mother has been both a long ordeal and an emotionally draining one.  Having no memory of the short time my young mother raised me and having “moved in” to my wife’s welcoming home at 18 when we started dating, my mother-in-law was the closest to a full time mom as I had.  And with much the same influence and impact on me.

As the family members, including our three daughters who grew up at “grandma and grandpa’s” place, were reflecting after mom’s passing, we spoke about how she was “green” long before it became fashionable and corporate and environmental marketers hopped on the term.  And mom didn’t think at all about her behavior—it just seemed to be a natural part of her.

Growing up in the Great Depression as one of 13 children on a hillside in downtown Pittsburgh, the basic idea just seemed to be that you used what you had, didn’t waste it, reused it in whatever fashion you could, and didn’t “collect stuff” as we seem to have done in generations since.  She was saving water from runoff, the washer, etc. for reuse in the house or garden.  Mom reused bags, clothes, jars, you name it—often with some creative way to get at least one more function out of anything she had.  Dad had one of the first compost bins that I’d seen to help support the large garden they had (they’d even bought the city lot next to them to expand it).  They were always eating local and fresh from their own abundant plot or the local truck farm.  And this was decades before that new trend arose.

COSI Recycling Bin

COSI Recycling Bin

But now we have to mount campaigns, organize educational programming, build exhibits, have special days, leverage marketing to help our society regain the ability and knowledge to make sustainable personal and societal choices.

So as we put recycle cans everywhere around COSI, we encourage sustainable foods and local food sources in our café and with staff collectives, design environmental activities and experiences, I just see us trying to catch up with what mom did without extra thought, fanfare, or sense of doing anything special.  Hopefully we can help more people adopt/adapt in the way that “big Dot” just was as part of the fabric of her being.  I know she challenged her family to sustain that quality as one of the many legacy gifts she provided us.


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