Tuesday, June 9, 2009

9 June 1955 “Talking Point Tuesdays”

thinking woman I have been thinking that perhaps more structure would be good for my blog. I find with all I have to do that writing a long researched post every day is hard to do with all the homemaking and house repairs/decorating and gardening. Yet, I like that we keep in touch, so I think we should make Tuesdays, “Talking Point Tuesdays”. I can list a few ideas or some ads that have caught my attention and we can discuss them. You, the reader, if you are out there, could address or mention vintage ideas or home/garden things that you want to share or discuss. What say you? Good or bad idea?
I was also considering Thursdays might be a good day for me to show various ads from my vintage magazines. There are so many good and interesting ideas and points from these, and some of them get earmarked and then never make it to the blog, so that could be delegated to Thursdays. These ads often illicit ideas and are great windows into the past. They show what we wanted to be  and what we hoped we could achieve.
So, really, both Tuesdays and Thursdays would be about posting things and discussing them in comments. And, of course, M W F would still be the more involved posts I am apt to do. Do you like this idea? I could also try and start giving links to items that are of vintage interest.
So, I thought to get the ball rolling today, our talking point today could be “Living Green, Vintage or Modern?”
I have found, through the study of this year, that many things we could do today or need to start doing to be ‘Green’ were naturally done in the past. The concept that we need to move away from the past to make a green tomorrow, seems to be only true if we look to the increase in consumption and packaging etc starting somewhere in the end of the 1970s early 1980s.
It is a fact that in the 1920s-1940s we had less garbage. There was not as much pre-packaged food and many things were using recyclable containers, such as your milk and cream. It was brought to your door in bottles that you left out when empty that got sterilized and reused. Certainly this process, even with the use of electricity and water to clean and refill, is nothing compared to the energy it takes to recycle all the plastic and glass we don’t reuse.
During the Depression and the lean War Years, things as dear as jam jars an such were most likely used as glasses or again to fill with your own jam. I think even if you were to purchase a premade item of jam, you would think to save the jar for your own re-filling (something I have started doing!)
solar article 2 solar article 1 I found this entire section on solar heating and capturing the sun for heat in my 1943 House Beautiful. It seems during the war time when we had to conserve and be cautious such things were of interest to the average person. Yet, after the war, we really just fell into the concept of over-production and the idea to live as if it would never leave us (in the USA at least and I think that concept has leaked into the rest of the western world where consuming and being entertained are of the utmost importance.) As if somehow we had inherited a land of plenty that would never run out of things to use.
So, being green, vintage living, looking to the past, how are they connected and what can we do?
I will be interested to hear your response or, for that matter, to see if there is any response. Until later, then…

23 comments:

  1. (I'm no expert, so go easy on me...)

    I like to think of green living as natural living, using what nature gives us--but also being smart about it, like preserving for the winter months.

    I imagine that some 1950's housewives would have still used a wringer washer and, of course, hung laundry on the line to dry. Maybe they would have had a respect for their water source...knowing of homes without indoor plumbing.

    Very intersting article about using the sun to heat your home. Passive solar (1955 style).

    Why do we think our generation is the first to discover common sense?

    Love your blog!! Honestly I have been wondering how you do all you do. Tuesdays and Thursday comment-chat days would be lovely.

    Kris7
    Working hard at www.sccworlds.com

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  2. Kris7-I natually am a busy person, though I can have a tendency towards laziness that I really felt I was getting good at, but since the start of my project, organized energy seems to be the key to really achieving alot. Of course, having it (study, homemaking, my blog, gardening etc) be my main job, helps immensely, it would be much harder had I to leave the house to 'work'. Yet, I still consider myself having a career/job. So, as I would no more laze about an out of home job, do I allow myself to do so with this homemaking job. Though, taking breaks and having 'days off' are becoming more important and I am trying to really 'schedule' those as well.
    Yes, I think certainly someone my age in 1955 would live rather green. I now of course use a washer dryer (though they are actually rather old) but I wonder would I just stick with the ringer? Or, in my socioeconmic class, would it be necessary for me to have the latest simply to be middle class? I still wonder, would I have a maid or at least 'a girl who comes in' during the week?
    In my 1940s magazines there are endless articles and casual mention of the single domestic it seemed most middle class people had, even when they mention thins as closing up the house and living simply during the duration without servants. BUt, with high costs and increasing jobs post war, I wonder how long the live in maid survived for the middle class.
    The article, of which I could post more if others are interested, is really showing how to use the sun and their 'solar windows' are just our normal double glazed windows, appropriately placed in the home.

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  3. Amazing, too, that being green now also means shelling out hundreds, or even thousands of dollars to acquire solar heating or other forms of earth-friendly utilities. The Modern "green" consumer says: "Buy! Buy new solar panels! Pay someone to make a new product (even though it sort of defeats the purpose) then pay someone else to install it!" The Vintage everyman said: "I can do this. This window, already in place in my home, and these other items I already have can all be used efficiently together to keep my utility costs down!" How did being green get so easily twisted and lost in the consumer mindset of today? It's frustrating.

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  4. My attempts to live green have me on the phone to my mom. Sample conversation: "So, I want to get rid of my plastic. What did you keep your leftovers in?" Mom says, "We always used canning jars." Huh. Now, why didn't I think of that? I find it so frustrating that there was this wealth of information and know-how that we destroyed in one generation or so! I get tired of re-inventing the wheel.

    On the other hand, my parents attend a church that was built in the 50's in an attempt by our denomination to leave the farm behind and show they were as sophisticated as anybody, darn it. It's a huge stone pile that just about bankrupts the members during heating-with-oil season. The old Brothers didn't give a thought to oil conservation.

    -Rebecca

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  5. Beth from Upstate NYJune 9, 2009 at 11:05 AM

    You gave me quite a chuckle today. Your column is attempting to "elicit",or draw forth, ideas from your readers. "Illicit" ideas would be more common in the modern era.

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  6. rebecca-another great 'green' storage solution is the old glass ice box dishes, which I use sometimes. They already exist are not too expensive look lovely and clean up in a way plastic will not. The church building made me laugh and then sigh, so much of what was good in old architecture really makes sense in heating costs. Everyone 'opens up' the space now and have great rooms, while I am doing the opposite and closing off rooms off a central hall so come winter, you heat the room you are in and not the whole house.
    Beth-I guess I wrote my mini post too face today and messed up my verbage, sorry, but funny none the less.

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  7. Growing up I always loved vintage and have been obsessed with the past since I was a little girl but it wasnt untill I started working that I realized how expensive living is but it seems in the past folk lived simpler and really appreciated what they had. If only everyone could realize if we did this today we would save so much money instead of buying into all of this green mumbo jumbo which is just another way for companies to make money off of us.

    I dislike the fact that being green today is buying green items and spending a ton of money when you can just make your items. I love living vintage which I consider free green living like for whitening my teeth I use baking soda, I make my own cleaning supplys, and I try not to buy any processed goods only fresh items which is so much cheaper, I never use paper towels only cloth, and I try to hand wash to save money on bills and whatever happen to candles!

    Sorry about the super long comment, love your blog, keep up the good work hun!

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  8. I like your idea for organizing the blog.

    Living green is basically living simply and having a do it yourself type of life that doesn't depend on companies doing and making everything for you, which just creates more trash, including all the green products that are now out there. I guess there's a need to make living green fashionable so that people will follow along, including buying all the "green" products. How about grocery stores designating an area that's for green products, etc. and put some baking soda, vinegar, etc. there so that people can actually start learning how to do these things themselves. I can just see the confused look on people's faces as they go to the green cleaning section and wonder what baking soda and vinegar are doing on the shelf. Hahaha, kind of funny when you think about it. If they really want to encourage people to go green, then they should actually encourage and teach people to do just that, not to encourage them to simply buy a different premade and packaged product.

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  9. I believe that living vintage goes hadn in hadn with green living. As you indicated, there was much less garabge. People composted, grew there own vegetables, canned their own food. Made do, or do without.

    I love the idea of your potential changes. I adore my vintage House Beautifuls and Womens Day!

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  10. Great idea and we can all share! Lets learn from each other. How about my home made dress form directions? Then you can sew for yourselves. Green is staring us in the face. Slow down and look, listen. Some times we make things more complicated then it really is. I did not have a dryer till late 1970's and still had a wringer washer up untill only a few years ago. you can still get them new and are cheaper than automatic. You start with the whites, colors, then dark and end with rags and cleaning cloths. you use fresh rinse water in a separate container but save on water from the washing. My mother had some of the whitest wash I have ever seen!

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  11. Wow, these are all such great ideas and comments and I love that we do all see the same idea of green. The reason the stores will never 'teach' us is that they need to sell things and the fact that we now live in an consuming society is that we have been lead out of learning and knowing how to do practical things. There is no teaching of basics and the very concept of do without and make your own is so foreign as to be a different language to us. Someone mentioned a dress form and I forgot a great reader sent me vintage directions in an email to make a dress form and I was going to share them and forgot, I will try to get them up on here and tell you her funny story she had with making her own version of it (she gave me permission to do so)
    It seems as if we like the idea of 'forum days'. I think M W F will be more of my info/rant blogs and T and TH will be good for open forum discussion. WE can learn so much from one another.
    Good night all.

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  12. Exactly, 50sgal! That's what's sad to me when looking at the war time era vs. now. During the war time everyone pitched in to do what was best for the whole of society, including businesses. Regardless of whether or not a person believes in global warming, as a society we have long understood that we need to stop making so much trash, etc. There are many reasons for living green. Personally, I don't totally buy into the idea of global warming at this point. There are too many scientists that say it's a bunch of hog wash, yet I strongly believe that THERE ARE consequences when things are done in EXCESS. Sooooo, even if global warming turns out not to be true, I do wonder what other negative effects our lifestyle IS having that we won't fully understand until well into the future when it may be too late to do anything about it. So, regardless of where an individual or a business is on that spectrum, it saddens me when they do not have that war time spirit of doing their part for what our country needs now.

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  13. PL_I agree whole heartedly! Even if global warming is not true, our current trends of pollution and excess are bad for us in many ways. Also, simply quality of life is affected, rather global warming or not. The more I live in 1955 and 'remember' the war time, the more I am considering that time period as another 'year project'.

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  14. the idea of "green" living seems modern to me, as it has the added component of regarding the environment as a living entity, almost worthy of worship. in the past, folks did many of the same things, but they were of the "waste not, want not", thrifty/frugal/conservationist mind set. i personally prefer that level of thinking, as it is so much more practical and real, not so esoteric, if you will. i am all for less waste of resources, less garbage, re-using what we have. what i find distasteful sometimes is the attitude of the "new green" that is somewhat elitist. does anyone notice this but me??? instead of the neighborly helping hand to be more resourceful, there is that looking down the nose at those who don't immediately adhere to whatever is the new environmentally conscious practice...dk, maybe it's just me..but it seems my grandparents' age people were just more (having trouble explaining it..)"friendly" about it??

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  15. kelly-I know exactly what you mean, as if the new 'green' were an elitist club when really those in the past that were the most 'green' were those who had little to spare. Now the media has spun it so that those who have less means and live for example in the poorer areas see being green as something those, 'elitist left wing crazy's' have thought up. I really think the whole spin of the, how does one put it, the 'homespun' sector of our country as only adhering to what is now percieved as American, has only increased the need for people to be consumers. Particularly the whole 'american apple pie' concept of walmart, while in fact it destroys the homespun small towns of american and buys its products from china and pays it american workers very little. It is all spin, nowadays.

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  16. yep. i am even disliking the term 'green' and all other buzzwords and jargon for the "movement". why can't we just not be wasteful, and unselfish, without having to call it something?

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  17. I realize that so much green talk is sales spin and to call yourself or your company "green" is like declaring a self-righteousness, but...

    I wonder without the coolness factor, how much would people actually leave their comfort zones? I mean, on this blog, there is a respect for vintage, but if you suggest old-fashioned living to the masses, I wouldn't think it would be a terribly popular idea.

    I hate to think that people must be motivated by selfish desires, but I think they are.

    If you ask people to sacrifice so they save themselves money, that's great. If you ask people to recycle and switch their lightbulbs because it looks cool, that's great. But if you ask them to buy from Goodwill because it's good for the environment, I don't think the idea will get very far.

    The elite talk bugs me too, but hey...if it gets the job done...

    Just my opinion, of course.

    Kris7
    Working hard at www.sccworlds.com

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  18. Whoops, more to add:

    I absolutely hate that companies are using green as just another way to appeal to consumers.

    Of course, all of us here know that we can do without so much,but that doesn't make the big guys any money.

    It's almost funny (ironic?) that the solution to our environmental problems is to stop buying stuff and yet that is what is presented to us as the solution. Argh!

    Kris7 (again)

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  19. very frustrating. That is why if we can grow as a subculture of people who ask why and what can I do, at least we can help our families and local communities with whom we have contact.

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  20. Amen, Kelly and All! :) Just had to say that.:) The green catch words and phrases have always bugged me as well. I use that term because that how people talk these days and I know they understand what I'm talking about, but I do think that the term "thoughtful living" or "simple living" or some such thing would be more true to the reality that we are speaking about.

    I mentioned some time ago on this blog my irritation that the way I have always lived my life was considered odd by some people I know, but as soon as being "green" became popular a certain individual I know who now lives green is considered amazing by these same individuals...whatever (eyes rolling). It's the whole "in thing" that irritates me. Like Kris said, most people are only "green" to the degree that it's a complimentary accessory for their life. But, annoyance aside, I am still happy for any improvement in anybody's lifestyle.

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  21. P.S. I'm so glad to come across so many "thoughtful living" individuals on this list. :)

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  22. It makes me sad that some people may think that we who live "green" lives may be elitist, or buying into a consumer fad, or less environmentally friendly than our grandmothers.

    There's a growing movement out there...evidenced by today's Mother Earth News or Mothering magazines, by the organic food co-ops popping up around the country, by the returned interest in vintage and flea market finds...

    It's wonderful, really.

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  23. In Denmark we reuse and recycle (as mentioned before), e.g. glass and paper/cardboard. At our dumpsites we sort everything for reuse/recycling, everything is sorted to smallest part and treated afterwards. We have lots of windmills and solar-energy too. Most of us love second hand shops and flea markets (I do!). I even use a socalled Keeper (I've also mentioned it before) during my period and washable pads as my small contribution to the environment - if we all thought this way.

    What triggers me in modern times is all that damn packaging! You cannot say you don't want it, you simply have to buy it with the product. :(

    Tuesdays and Thursdays are fine with me, I comment anyway and am sorry to be so behind in reading your lovely blog. :)

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