Let's TAP About It

Grandpa Practiced Sustainability

Kelly Pope Keller and her grandfather, perhaps after one of their recycling walks.

My grandpa was of the Depression Era. Sustainability wasn’t “a thing” back then — it was just the way you lived. Though he was raised in a time when you were thankful to be able to put a good meal on the table, he likely had a standard of life that we would consider average or middle class today. He didn’t grow up in a slum or shanty town, but he did understand the value of hard work and, because of that, when he spent his money on something he would make it last. As a child, I didn’t think much about him living a sustainable life. In fact, I didn’t know what that meant or that he was doing it. Now, as an adult when I reflect on the things he did, I can see it and I can appreciate it.

My grandpa was a gardener. From spring until fall, he was always in his garden. I am certain he grew many vegetables, but what stands out in my memory are the deep purple grapes on the vine that I always thought were sour, the zucchini and summer squash that he snuck into my morning eggs and I picked out, and his green beans and tomatoes, which I would love to taste now but as a child I avoided like the plague. He spent hours every week in his garden so that he could feed his family the freshest, most delicious vegetables all summer, because to him it was important to do it himself. 

Even when he didn’t need to, he re-used what he had. I was often surprised when I would take a cardboard milk carton out of the fridge and instead of pouring a cold glass of milk I got homemade soups or pasta sauce. When he made his morning eggs, he would use up the raw scrambled egg residue by adding flour in the bowl and rolling it until it was a ball. He would then toss the ball into a container in the freezer, and when the container was full he would turn his egg balls into pasta. He hated any wasted food and always did his best to find creative uses for everything. 
Sign Up for E-News

Grandpa was a neat person. He didn’t like clutter, but he also did not like to waste objects that he felt could have multiple uses. If he ended up with a wooden crate, he would put wheels on the bottom and make it a garden trolley. No piece of paper was thrown away until it was completely full on both sides, and all jars or containers were always washed out and used to house random, small objects or scraps. The house was full of washed out baby food jars, because who knew when you might need one for paper clips. 

I can remember that in the evenings my grandpa would take me on walks. We never walked without a plastic bag, because if we came across a piece of trash he could not let it stay on the ground. We typically took the same route every time we took these walks and we would go near a grocery store. If we happened to come across any pop cans along the way, we would stop by the grocery store to retrieve our nickels. As a reward for picking up trash and cans, he would let me use the nickels to get bulk candy. 

Before recycling or upcycling was popular and trendy, my grandpa was doing it just because it was who he was and what he did. In many ways you could say he was celebrating Earth Day every day. I am not a master at reusing like my grandpa was but maybe someday, if I keep trying, I can be more like he was.  (For more information about Earth Day, visit Earthday.org.)

Editor’s note: Kelly Pope Keller, an Olean resident, is a Canticle Farm volunteer and wrote this column for the farm’s Earth Day newsletter. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and an MBA from St. Bonaventure University. Her grandfather, Boniface Pope, earned a BBA from St. Bonaventure in 1950 – on the GI Bill. He was my uncle.

-- Anne Lee, Co-editor, TAPinto Greater Olean, St. Bonaventure Class of 1976

Sign Up for E-News to get top stories delivered daily to your inbox. 

Download the FREE TAPinto App!  Click here for Android - Click here for iOS to get news as it is happening.


The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Greater Olean

Understanding the Tough Times at The Buffalo News Can Lead to Brighter Future for the Newspaper 

Given the fiscal state of the news industry, the changes underway at The Buffalo News are not unique. To offset revenue losses, newspapers across the nation have bid farewell to longtime reporters, eliminated once-popular sections and removed jobs that involved covering important beats, such as education, the environment and transportation. 

What makes the ...

Grandpa Practiced Sustainability

My grandpa was of the Depression Era. Sustainability wasn’t “a thing” back then — it was just the way you lived. Though he was raised in a time when you were thankful to be able to put a good meal on the table, he likely had a standard of life that we would consider average or middle class today. He didn’t grow up in a slum or shanty town, but he did understand the ...

'March for Our Lives' Started A Historic Movement

Shoes on the ground. People chanting. Signs held high. Music playing in the background.

It is the start of a historic movement. A moment when every race, gender and age came together as one. A movement that involved change and a March for Our Lives.

As a student journalist going out to the world, taking part in a national movement truly moved me. Reporting the significance of March for ...

Upcoming Events

Sat, June 23, 10:00 AM

Olean Public Library, Olean

Local History Research Sessions


Mon, June 25, 6:00 PM

Olean Public Library, Olean

Braiding a Wrist Distaff

Home & Garden

Tue, June 26, 6:00 PM

Olean Public Library, Olean

Pride Month Film Series: 'Victor/Victoria'

Arts & Entertainment

Keenan Honored by Olean City School District Foundation

June 19, 2018

OLEAN, NY -- The name of Kevin A. Keenan, founding partner and president of Keenan Communications Group, was placed on the Olean City School District Foundation Wall of Honor on June 15 in a ceremony in Olean High School Auditorium.

According to the foundation, the Wall of Honor “recognizes individuals whose lives, accomplishments, and endeavors reflect the values and tradition of ...

'A Day in the Life': One Transportation Supervisor Serves Portville and Olean

PORTVILLE, NY – A whiteboard with dozens of destinations and vehicle numbers written in various colors sits inside the Portville bus garage, ready to be changed at any moment. David Youngs, the transportation supervisor of the Portville and Olean School Districts, knows that before 2 almost every afternoon, he is likely to receive an email changing the entire meticulously planned ...

'A Day in the Life' Follows Della Moore of the African American Center for Cultural Development

OLEAN, NY – When Della Moore walks down the street, she greets everyone she passes and makes sure to ask, “How are you doing?” 

From the moment I joined her at the 7-Eleven on a cloudy, cold December morning until we finished making our stops along State and North Union streets, she remained ...

'Day in the Life' Follows Warehouse Selector Justus Elliot

OLEAN, NY -- For Justus Elliot, time and pace are essential. As a warehouse selector for Olean Wholesale Grocery Co-Op, most of the 21-year-old’s job calls for efficiency.

“Everything is time-based," Elliot explained. "One hundred percent is the norm, and it’s what we work for every day. If our score is less, then we are moving too slow, and we kick it into ...

Happy Veterans Day, Mom

What began as an attempt to boost her GPA soon turned into a 22-year career for my mom, Ramona Lee Discavage.

On the first day of her freshman year at St. Bonaventure University in 1989, members of the Army ROTC Seneca Battalion helped incoming freshmen move their stuff into their dorm rooms.  Afterward, they invited all of the freshmen to a lunch.

“When they described the ...

Lynn Kemp: ‘Best Soldier I Could Be’

Lynn Kemp is nearing 95 and knows he has lived a good life.

“The good Lord has been awful good to me,” recalled the lifelong resident of Shinglehouse, Pennsylvania. “I never refused an order. I tried to be the best soldier I could be. I don’t know what your relationship is with God, but mine is pretty close.”

Born Oct. 29, 1920, Lynn grew up in a home on Turkey ...

WW II museum provides role models for young people

When Steve Appleby asks area students if they know Snoop Dog, Eminem, Kanye West, the Kardashians, Parris Hilton or Miley Cyrus, they answer yes. Then Appleby will ask which of them knows Jason Dunham is, and the students will not have a clue.

Appleby will explain that Jason Dunham was a Marine from Scio, in Allegany County, New York, who was killed in Iraq in 2006 after jumping on a grenade ...