During WWII strong long-lasting plastics were put to use to aid us in our military efforts. In post war years, these durable materials found new service in the up-and-coming market of disposable goods. Before the war, reusability was the norm. I remember my Grandma recalling how her mother sewed undergarments from flour sacks during the depression. She, as much of America at the time, surely followed the mantra “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without”. People didn’t turn to the idea of disposability overnight. They had to be taught and, as we know now, they learned well. They learned that certain items now had a single use and should then be tossed out. Styrofoam cups were introduced, disposable diapers, Saran wrap, as well as throw-away plastic cutlery. Notice the celebratory image (above) from a 1955 Life Magazine article titled “Throwaway Living”. The new disposable plastic products are raining down on the family. Goodbye reusable goods hello modern convenience.
Is it easier to toss these items into the trash and not think twice? Yes. I’ve certainly used my share of disposable products. Do you know that today half of all plastics made are for single-use purposes? The question is, “Can we unlearn disposability?” Do we even want to? Hopefully, the answer is “yes”. This won’t change overnight. It takes time to unlearn such ingrained behaviors. We can begin with small steps, such as remembering to bring a reusable spork instead of relying on disposable cutlery when you go out for lunch. It means gaining an awareness of how much of our lives have become disposable. It means celebrating your small achievements and not beating yourself up when old habits die hard. It means taking your power back as a consumer, and choosing something better.
If you like the handy little bamboo sporks shown in my photo, you can find those and other wonderful products at reuseit.com. I bought them because they are a perfect size for throwing in a lunch bag or purse. A friend told me about this website and I love it. Enter the code rcrkuk3 when making a purchase and you can save $5 off an order of $50 or more.