My Grandmother Was A Climate Hero

Secil Honeywill

When we write climate stories, we often imagine our main characters as scientists or activists. But the truth is, anyone can be a climate character. We don’t need to create another Greta Thunberg. It’s not about who they are; it’s about how they respond to the climate crisis. We’re all affected by the damage we’ve done to the planet, with some countries, communities, and individuals bearing a heavier burden than others. It’s important to put these people and communities at the center of our stories and give them a voice.

Think of your own grandma, for example. She might just be the perfect climate hero. My grandmother lived in Istanbul, and she had some wonderful sustainable habits. She didn’t care if the peppers were perfectly shaped or if the apples and carrots looked like soldiers in a row. She didn’t buy pre-cut, pre-packaged fruits or vegetables wrapped in unnecessary plastic. In fact, she would have been shocked to see ten grapes enclosed in layers of plastic packaging. When it came to buying meat, she supported the local butcher instead of relying on imports from faraway places.

Food waste was never an option for her. She was incredibly resourceful and creative in the kitchen, using every bit of a vegetable when she cooked. She turned yoghurt tubs into flower pots, finding beauty in repurposing. She didn’t buy loads of cheap clothing every month but always looked well-dressed. She had a sewing machine, and I have fond memories of her sewing me pyjamas in just half an hour one night when my mom forgot to pack them. Her wardrobe was like a treasure chest, full of exciting surprises whenever she opened its heavy wooden doors.

Take a moment to think about your own family. Do you have an eccentric aunt or a wise grandfather whose old-fashioned ways are now eco-friendly trends? They may not be activists or have fancy titles, but their everyday choices contribute to the climate narrative. 

Climate characters come in all shapes and sizes, bridging generations and breaking stereotypes. They don’t need capes to save the world in one swoop. Instead, they make conscious choices, embrace sustainability, and inspire those around them.

When we talk about the climate, let’s not forget the real heroes — everyday people like our grandmas. Shedding light on these unsung heroes in our communities is crucial. Their simple, old-school habits have valuable lessons for today’s world. So, channel your inner climate character, tap into your grandma’s wisdom, and let’s make a difference in the face of the climate crisis together.