What Would We Have Done 100 Years Ago?

In Articles, Entertaining, Home, Travel and Transportation by Lori Hill4 Comments

“We need to get gas” my husband John announced.

My family and I had just left a campground near Camp David where we had spent a weekend car camping with 5 other families from our neighborhood.

John pulled our plug-in hybrid minivan, which was down to 0% battery, into the first gas station we saw and started filling up the tank (there was no available charging station). I didn’t need to pee and wasn’t hungry, so while I waited for the tank to fill, I was tempted to look at my phone because, that’s what we do. And by “we” I mean all of us. We look at our phones  waiting in line, waiting for the elevator, even waiting to cross the street!

It’s as if we’re afraid to do nothing.

But this time, I decided to not mindlessly check my email and social media accounts. I had been (mostly) unplugged all weekend and noticed that I felt calmer. I was “Zen Lori” and in no rush to go back to “Running a Million Miles a Minute Lori” and clutter up my clear brain with stimulation.

As I sat there, I asked myself, “If this were 20 years ago, what would I have done while waiting for the tank to fill?”

That would have been 1998. There’s Something About Mary was a big movie hit, Serena and Venus Williams said they could beat any man ranked 200 or higher in tennis, and Google was founded. It was pre-Facebook, pre-Twitter, pre-Smart phone, pre apps of any kind! Life was a bit simpler and not as many of us were moving a million miles a minute obsessed with getting things done and saving time so we could do even more.

Saving time. That is part of the downfall of our planet. Products marketed to save time and make our lives easier often wreak havoc on Earth. They create a lot of waste. But we need to strive to create zero waste.  Click To Tweet

After I thought about 1998, I started thinking back to my childhood. When my family went on trips, my mom packed a thermos of water for all 5 of us to drink from and she’d place a damp washcloth in a plastic baggie that we used to wash off dirty, sticky hands (okay, only half of that last solution was good). We didn’t spend money on bottled water since we got it virtually free from the tap and because bottled water didn’t exist! It also didn’t make sense to spend money on use-it-once-and-then-throw it away wet naps that now come packaged in big, plastic containers.

Then I started thinking about 100 years ago — 1918 — and what we did before we had disposable plates, cups, cutlery, and napkins. We used dishware. Wherever we were – indoors or outdoors. If it was a fancy outdoor affair, you’d use china. If you were navigating the wilderness, you’d use stainless steel. But you didn’t see anybody whip out a big old plastic Glad bag and start stuffing it with paper, plastic, and polystyrene disposable plates, cups, cutlery, and napkins and then throw it in their curbside trash.

And what did we do before plastic wrap? Mrs. Patmore and Daisy from Downton Abbey would have used cheese cloth or something resembling today’s Beeswrap.

While I appreciate many of the offerings of modern life, I can’t help but wish that some of these inventions could have been left un-invented.

As you go about your routine this week, take a moment and ask, “What would we have done 100 years ago?”

In the meantime, download my PDF 21 Items That Will Help You Take Care of the Planet and Create Less Waste

Lori Hill

Lori Hill

Lori Hill is a plant eater, trash picker upper, climate activist, wife, and mom to 2 human boys, 2 cat boys, and 1 dog boy. On a mission to do all she can to take better care of the planet, Lori created Sister Eden Media, a green lifestyle company, to inspire others to give a damn and live more gently on Earth. She shares tips on her YouTube channel, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and also frequently appears on television.
Lori Hill


  1. Lor
    You must have been camping at Cunningham Falls, beautiful lake and falls but I don’t recognize the river shown in your picture. Looks good. Where is that? Miss ya.

    1. Author

      Brady – yes, we were at Cunningham Falls! The image is compliments of Dollar Photo Club, so I have no idea where it truly is! 😉 But it reminds me of many places we have been…

  2. I love it! I have been thinking about how we lived years ago, before there was an internet and before there was so much plastic. We were being frugal not green 50 years ago, but it was so much better for the planet!

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