Taking Care of Business: Earth Care Circa 1960
Earth Day… a new idea? Let’s travel back a generation when plastic didn’t encase and guard nearly everything we bought. When people knew where their food on their plates came from, and family farms were large enough to produce and make a fair profit, but not so large that they became big business. Life just seemed more simple and safe, the air fresher and cleaner, and kids had rosy cheeks and healthy bodies as a result of plenty of outdoor play.
“Paper, plastic or box?” I think food store baggers must say that in their sleep. As I place my items in my tote, I think of when I was a child and even though we didn’t use the word “Green”, we put that philosophy in action every day in nearly every way, from diapering baby to knowing that the proper place for trash was in the trash can, not along highways, country roads, streams, and the lakes of America.
Babies wore cloth diapers, either washed at home and hung out in the sunshine to sanitize and dry, or a diaper service delivered clean, cloth diapers to your home once a week. Disposables? We had never heard of them. Soda bottles, milk bottles, and beer bottles–all glass–were returned empty to the store (a few cents back!) and sent to a factory where they were washed, sterilized, and then refilled with product. I actually don’t remember much of anything being made out of plastic, but when it was, somehow, it just seemed to last longer. When we mailed a package, we wrapped it up in yesterday’s newspaper to prevent breakage; no Styrofoam packing peanuts, no bubble wrap. We re-used cardboard boxes, cereal boxes, or even a paper sack cut open, print side down, plain brown on the outside. I didn’t know anyone who owned an automatic dishwasher–the “dishwasher” was the mom, or whoever’s turn it was that week to stand on a chair in front of the kitchen sink, and scrub away. Bonus: garden dirt under little fingernails was whisked down the drain.
My mother washed off aluminum foil and re-used it. My job was to grab my father’s flat carpenter pencil and smooth out the creases–I sometimes got a little carried away and smoothed it into a few smaller pieces. We kept a water jug in the fridge; if the water line was below a certain mark on the side of the jug, it was that person’s job to refill before placing it back in the fridge. We rarely went out to eat–only on an occasional vacation, otherwise, all meals were cooked at home with fresh from the backyard garden vegetables.
Most families had only one TV, and usually, just one radio, which by the way, were controlled by the parents. Homes weren’t over-loaded with multiple, electric-guzzling appliances. Mom patched our hand-me-down clothing, sewed popped buttons back on, and darned holes in our socks. Our shoes were of the Made In America quality which were actually repaired, not thrown out. No drink boxes– our metal school lunch boxes were packed with a thermos full of hot soup or cold milk. That same thermos was brought back home, washed and re-used. If by chance we used a paper sack, we had orders from Mom to “Bring your sack back home!” And we didn’t carry around a plastic water bottle that ended up in the trash–if you wanted a drink, you found the nearest public water fountain. People rode on public buses, kids rode bikes or walked. It was the norm for the family to own only one car, and teens had to ask for the privilege of using it. And here’s one that may very well bring you to tears… I remember gasoline being 32 cents a gallon.
Much has changed over time, but one idea is as relevant today as when the phrase was first coined… “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without”. J.R.LIGGETT’S Shampoo Bar is a fresh, healthy and smart choice each day for you and the world. Containing no unpronounceable chemicals, biodegradable, multi-tasking, and thrifty. To put it plainly, using this shampoo bar just makes all around good sense now and for future generations.
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Joy Richter 2012 ©copyright 2012 J.R.LIGGETT