top of page

Don't waste. Don't be a Squanderbug


Instead of filling up landfills with trash and our oceans with plastic and cutting down our forests, maybe we can use some of the ingenuity of the 1940’s housewife.  Remembering how my mother eked out everything from soap to sweaters, makes me think we could do a better job of looking after this planet we call home.  I am not just talking about the housewives in Britain and all of Europe, but in America country farm housewives could teach us how to make the most of our resources.

During World War II Rationing tried to ensure that each family in Britain was entitled to a healthy amount of sugar, fat, flour, meat, eggs, milk etc., but there was never enough.  We’d take the ration books to the grocer to get our allotted amount of food, but the grocer never got enough supplies.  They say the British people were healthier during the war because sugar and fat were in such short supply. More recipes were made from scraps that used to be thrown away. Nothing was thrown away - think of Potato Peeling Pie.


Even with the ration books, shoes, clothes, fabric, soap and ordinary things were just not available.  Everything that was manufactured had to be for the war effort.   Those little scraps of soap after bars of soap are used up went into a glass jar of water and made into liquid soap.  All clothes, shoes, sheets, hats and coats had to last, be handed down or remade.


Moths had made holes in a wool sweater which was destined for the rag bag, but instead, each little hole was darned then embroidered with contrasting yarn and the sweater became decorated with flowers. 

Now we just go and buy a new sweater - or two.

Winter coats that were faded were turned inside out and resewn.  When garments were too worn or full of holes granny waited to shred them and use the strips to make hooked rugs.  Buttons removed from old clothes were never thrown away, because new sets were unavailable at the haberdashery.


Homes had lasts on which shoes could be repaired.  Repairs to shoes would sometimes be augmented with cardboard and toes cut off shoes to allow children’s feet to expand.  British Dads became carpenters making toy trains, trucks and wagons from wood.  They became house decorators too.  Instead of trying to find paint, whitewash tinted with dye was used.  The walls could then be stippled with a sponge dipped in a darker colour.  This made a nice clean change from the walls tinged with soot and nicotine from all the coal fires and cigarette smokers in most homes of that era.


American country women grow their own vegetables and can everything.  Every part of the butchered hog was eaten including the oink.  Noses were not turned up at souse, pigs’ feet or ears and chickens were fried, roasted, boiled for broth and chicken salad.  Dresses made of flour sacks were cut down to make other garments and then made into quilts.  Feathers from your own geese would be used to fill pillows and feather beds.  American Farm households did not need to be told to turn off the lights.  The housewife never sat down without a pile of mending by her chair, or a quilt in progress, or a sack full of beans waiting to be topped and tailed and made ready for canning.  Stop at a fast-food restaurant to pick up dinner? – never happen.


I am not suggesting today’s housewives should be making dresses from flour sacks, or using newspaper for toilet paper, but we need to stop wasting.  Why do we use so many paper towels, paper plates and Styrofoam cups???

All Styrofoam should be banned.

 Make a fashion statement - take tote bags when you go shopping and shop at Thrift Stores. What's wrong with hand towels in the kitchen and old rags for spills. Instead of plastic storage bags in the kitchen, use glass or plastic containers which can be washed and reused.  Cloth table-napkins (no iron) can be tossed in the washer with the laundry.  A handkerchief looks so much more feminine than a wad of tissue, these too can be washed and reused.  Have you noticed that nearly all men always have a handkerchief .... for a lady’s tears?  Hand-held bidets can save a lot of money, are more hygienic and are better for your plumbing than toilet paper…...and we really do need our forests. 

Remember - we do not need more landfills or plastic in our oceans.

I don’t need to try to list everything that could be done because I am sure people today all know exactly how to use resources to their fullest and protect our environment.  I am just trying to remind everyone –

 Please don’t waste but try to save – everything.

Don't be a Squanderbug

19 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page