Thursday, February 12, 2009

Are Seniors Going Green?


Let me begin by admitting that I didn't expect to find much green action in the senior citizen sector. I felt it was definitely an area I should investigate, but was surprised when I learned just how many seniors are truly concerned about the future of our Earth.

Perhaps it's their grandchildrens' world that they are worried about, or maybe they, in some small way, feel somewhat responsible for the current state of our environment. In fact, it is the Baby Boomers who are more responsible for our sad state of affairs, than their parents.

Think about it. Our current senior citizens grew up during the Great Depression, a time when unemployment was higher than our current record highs, and food rationing was considered the norm. These elders grew up learning how to use things up, and then reuse them again in some new way. Without knowing it, they passed along some of their know-how to our parents. Victory gardens were often grown organically with composted kitchen waste as fertilizer, and pesticides were not yet widely available for garden use. Natural pest control methods were more often used, such as soapy water sprays, hand picking insects and vegetable oil sprays.

Enough about what was; this post is about what is now, and now there is definitely a different group of seniors out there. The image I had of most seniors enjoying their afternoons in a rocker on the porch is very inaccurate. Many of today's seniors appear to be taking the bull by the horns, using their retirement years to make a difference.


Most notable is the Green Seniors site, founded by Joyce Emery and Keith Farnish, two like-minded seniors who wanted to make a difference. Each, in their own way, and on two different continents, had contributed considerably to the Eco-knowledge of their countries, and have continued to do more in their individual and mutual retirements, if you can call what they do retirement.

Of particular interest to me, each of them write for multiple blogs, and each have their own, as well. Emery's blog, Green Granny, focuses on encouraging seniors to make a contribution, thereby giving their grandchildren a better future. The Earth Blog, Farnish's creation, inspires people to take an interest in human rights and the global environment by offering many solutions to choose from.

Farnish's blog is philosophical and often scientific. Its appeal is to the more techhy sorts who like to look at human suffering issues with a microscope. Don't get me wrong, I think its a great blog for his target readership; I just found it hard to get my hugs there. Green Granny, on the other hand is more like a letter from the ultimate grandmother, filled with updates on her lifestyle and focused on trying to set a good example. I saw a bit of my own future in her blog, so naturally I would find it to be a better fit for my own personal reading.

Green Seniors' site offers green groups, how to articles, networking and campaigning, with a ton of information for interested groups to act on. It is truly a fabulous resource.
Gray is Green is the website of the National Senior Conservation Corps, founded by Robert Lane, a professor emeritus at Yale University. In a recent interview, Lane poignantly stated that "We are trying every way we know how to teach people who will be dead in a few years about environmental stewardship--so they can teach their grandchildren." This nonprofit has worked with seniors to boost recycling in senior-living communities, and shares tips on green living with them through many media.

The president and founder of Gerontological Services, Inc., a market reserach firm in California, Maria Dwight, says that ecological awareness is evident in retirement centers that she visits. Her presentations on such topics, which began in 2000 with 16 attendees, numbered about 400 in 2008. I was most impressed with the retirement village, La Costa Glenn, which cut copies of printed menus from 600 to 65, simply by posting menus online. Brilliant!

AARP reported on Australia's Grey Power Community, a sub-division of Greenpeace Australia, that is learning and sharing their knowledge with their senior residents.
These are just a few of the many examples of retired people getting involved in leaving behind a better world. So, how can we get our grandparents involved in living more green? That's another post for another day. Your comments are welcome below at the purple COMMENT link.
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Late Breaking News:

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