Grit Blogs > Country at Heart

Modern-Day Recycling with an Old-Fashioned Twist

There are some who think recycling and "environment consciousness" are new "things," but as far back as I can remember, people always recycled something or seemed to be conscious of the environment. When I was growing up, people recycled just about everything. Only when an item was absolutely no longer usable was it disposed of. Most people just didn't have money (as we do today) to be wasteful. They were always looking for ways to get by with the bare minimum, and anything that could be re-used was.

Clothes and Shoes were passed down to younger siblings or neighbors or relatives. There was no such thing as a thrift store back then.
Old clothes, feed sacks, flower sacks, and just about anything else made with cloth wound up in Grandma's beautiful homemade quilts.

We recycled bath and dish water then tossed it onto the yard or flowers as an additional "fertilizer." to help them grow.

Today, we have cardboard containers, but when I was a child, we used glass, and empty soda and milk bottles were returned to our school or to the milk man to be washed and used again.

We used old cans, jars and bottles for toting water, potting plants, and for flower vases

And, of course, (BP) before Pampers, mothers used cotton diapers that were always rewashed. As a matter of fact, I don't remember my Mother ever using throw-away diapers, even when my last brother was born during the late 1960s.

So, consumers, homemaker and homeowners (back then) were quite resourceful. They knew that waste would lead to deeper poverty, and grinding poverty was certainly not something that anyone wanted more of.

Last but not least, my Dad was always looking for items that he could salvage and sell. Uptown, there was a...I'm not sure what they called it, but the place bought scrap iron and metal. I remember my Dad stopping along the road and picking up pieces of iron, metal, tin, aluminum, or whatever that stuff was that someone had thrown away. There was also a "junk" yard just outside the city that he frequented to look for cast-offs. He took these items to this "whatever-they-called it" shop and sold them. I'm sure he only received small amounts of money, but at least that was his version of recycling. He didn't do that all the time, but it was frequent enough that I do still remember (in my mind) where the place was and what it looked like. I thought of what he did as a hobby, but it was actually his "side hustle."

nebraska dave
5/14/2013 11:08:30 PM

AG, Not only was my allowance supplemented by the 2 cent glass bottle refund, but I remember collecting newspapers and magazines. I don't remember where the recycle place was but every so often Mom would take me and my stash to the recycle store and sell it. They bought it by the pound and slick paper magazines brought a premium price. A car load of papers would bring a few dollars and certainly pad my piggy bank. Another recycle place was the city dump. Back in my youth days people would just come to the dump to see what others were throwing away and come home with treasures. Can't do that now. Some one might get hurt don't you know. Recycle has indeed been going on for many decades. We just forgot that our grand parents were the masters of recycling. Have a great recycle day.