Wartime Greenery

Well, yes, our grannies did indeed live rather green and localised lifestyles in WWII:

For the parents or grandparents, who we may have once scoffed at for never throwing away leftovers and hoarding coupons, were, in contrast to us, model global citizens. Their carbon footprints barely left an imprint. They wasted almost nothing; and what they had no use for, they recycled. They dug for victory to grow their own seasonal produce, as more of us are again beginning to do. They abandoned their cars and did not dare light a fire, flick a switch or turn a tap without thinking of the energy consumed.

Theirs was not a disposable culture: they made do and mended. In “the great saucepan offensive”, they salvaged. Decades before No Logo became an international rallying cry, they were pioneering anti-consumerists, dressed in utility clothing, with Winston Churchill leading the way. They did thrift years before it became a fashion model’s fad: the second-hand shop and the recycling bin were their generation’s invention.

But the thing we need to remember is that, by current day standards, our grannies were also astonishingly poor.

The thing they were poorest of? Time, time and leisure.

It\’s entirely possible to grow your own veg, make do and mend, recycle everything and so on: just expect to give up most of your leisure to do so.

17 thoughts on “Wartime Greenery”

  1. No surprise that the cheerleaders for the destruction of the mechanisms of wealth-creation, also call for the destruction of existing wealth.

    As Shakespeare put it in King Lear: “Reason not the need! Our basest beggars are in the poorest things superfluous. Allow not nature more than nature needs, Man’s life is cheap as beast’s.”

    Having more than we need is what separates us from the animals.

  2. Granny also had to spend her school holidays working in the fields. Odd they want to stop children in the 3rd world from working but want to reintroduce it here.

  3. “Brown’s ticking-off was music to my ears…how green the British public and its coalition government’s policies were during the second world war.”
    Fueling up a thousand aircraft & flying them hundreds of miles across Europe to unload 15000 tons of high nitrate fertilisers on German gardens. And they did this two of three times a week! Amazing! Still, it was the least they could do after the assistance the Germans had given with slum clearance projects in London & the Midlands.

  4. Work is its own reward, it is better to be spiritually rich, idleness is sinful, etc.

    New Labour, New Puritanism.

  5. At least gardening etc brought some positive gain – now leisure time is consumed in sorting and washing rubbish, carefully putting it in correctly-labeled bins, and any extra time you have can be devoted to running around the house with a fly swatter.

    Alan Douglas

  6. Decades before No Logo became an international rallying cry, they were pioneering anti-consumerists,

    I guess that the most popular logos at the time were the Union Jack, White Ensign and RAF roundel.

    dressed in utility clothing, with Winston Churchill leading the way

    Would anyone from Henry Poole & Co like to comment?

  7. “They abandoned their cars and did not dare light a fire, flick a switch or turn a tap without thinking of the energy consumed.”

    The abandoned their cars because they had no fuel and the didn’t light fire and flick on switches because the consequences were either being bombed of thrown in jail by the air raid wardens.

  8. They didn’t abandon their cars. They mostly never had them.
    Getting thrown in jail by air raid wardens was real unlikely but getting bossed by them was ritual.
    Most people were hungry and were born cash poor. Forget this fancy poor in time idea. Most of them had lived through the great depression.
    So basically you have no idea.

  9. So Much For Subtlety

    “Decades before No Logo became an international rallying cry, they were pioneering anti-consumerists, dressed in utility clothing, with Winston Churchill leading the way. ”

    Although not, oddly, in America. Which led the world in odd men’s fashion even then. Which in turn produced the Zoot Suit Riots. Perhaps this is what we will be faced with – puritanical men in uniform beating the crap out of anyone who dresses as they please?

    (Personally I can’t wait for the Zoot Suit to make a come back)

  10. The Zoot Suit Riots were primarily racially-motivated – Caucasians vs Hispanics in Southern California. The zoot suit fashion among Hispanics was merely a convenient excuse.

    llater,

    llamas

  11. So Much For Subtlety

    llamas – “The Zoot Suit Riots were primarily racially-motivated – Caucasians vs Hispanics in Southern California. The zoot suit fashion among Hispanics was merely a convenient excuse.”

    There was clearly a strong racial component but at the same time, those Caucasians were soldiers who were forced to dress as they were told. The suit wearers were Hispanic, Black and even Filippino young men who not only could dress as they pleased, but were less interesting to Draft Boards. I think it is a mistake to single out race alone – or even as the main factor. They did not beat up many Hispanics who did not flaunt their freedom to dress as they like did they?

  12. “… and did not dare light a fire, flick a switch or turn a tap without thinking of the energy consumed”

    As others have noted above, this was not due to thinking about energy consumption: it was almost certainly driven either by rationing on the one hand or real fear on the other.

    So yes: they want you to be both poor and afraid.

  13. Sing along with the common people,
    sing along and it might just get you through,
    laugh along with the common people,
    laugh along even though they’re laughing at you,
    and the stupid things that you do.
    Because you think that poor is cool.

  14. Something tells me that Churchill wasn’t secretly advocating an end to capitalism.

    And the first line of the article causes some consternation with its diminishment of what constitutes ‘war’.

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