Well, I know that Earth Day is a recent celebration and that your ancestor did not celebrate it. But in fact they did conserve the environment. Do you remember hearing the rhyme, use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without? I've heard that attributed to many different pioneers, but the point is the same. We need to recycle and not just bottles and cans but other household items.
Our recent financial problems has forced many of us to do exactly what our pioneer ancestors did. Using what you have and not being wasteful are two principals that we can really use in our materialistic society. And we aren't the only ones who need reminding of this.
Check out this World War II poster that reminds folks of not being wasteful, http://history1900s.about.com/library/photos/blywwiip211.htm.
When writing up your family history-don't forget to write about how grandma or grandpa recycled and reused. Some of my most fondest memories of my maternal grandmother have to do with how she composted-long before it was cool to do so; how she made quilts out of scraps; and how she took slivers of soap and made new bars of soap. Family history narratives are more interesting when you include information about the everyday.