Salvage - Recycle

In 1941, the Department of National War Services put in place a nation-wide salvage program. Households across the country were asked to collect metals, paper, bones, rags and fat. It wasn't done for the environment but rather for the war effort. Metals from old machinery, trucks and cars were recycled into airplanes, jeeps and tanks. Not only did this benefit the war effort but it cleaned up the countryside. Things that no longer worked or had been replaced by something more modern were usually just abandoned in a field, the woods or the backyard. The Summerside IODE collected enough scrap metal to raise three hundred dollars towards a bomber plane the National IODE was buying for the air force. Paper was recycled to churn out newspapers filled with war news and propaganda. Newspapers were the main source of communication for the time. The military also put out papers in Europe for the soldiers. Rags were collected for the making of blankets and bandages. Bones were made into glue for airplane construction as well as being used in munitions. Housewives were asked to save the fat from the cooking of meat and fowl for the making of dynamite. One pound of fat would make one pound of dynamite.
  Glycerine is derived from fat and it is the glycerine that is used in the manufacturing of dynamite. It is also used to make cosmetics, which is why there was a shortage of make-up during the war. Many Island families saved the drippings from the cooking of meat and fowl for a number of uses. Bacon fat was used for frying instead of putting oil in the pan. As well many women fried doughnuts with their stock of fat or made molasses cookies. Goose grease was a home remedy for fighting the cold or flu. Many children would have their chest and backs rubbed with goose grease then covered with flannel. Upon waking in the morning they would find they could breathe much easier.
It was mainly service groups involved in raising money for the war effort that organized salvage drives throughout the war years. They would announce a drive for a certain item on a particular day and trucks would travel the streets collecting. The salvage would then be sold to a junk dealer for a few cents a pound.

The Red Cross organized the first drive in Summerside in September of 1941 for aluminum but received a very poor response. Summerside then organized a War Salvage Committee in 1942 and things much improved. By 1942 scrap rubber joined the collection list. In July of 1944 the Girl Guides and Boy Scouts helped out with a drive for waste paper. Eight tons were collected. Following the war Canada dropped its salvage drives and people went back to throwing things away.
  The military is often on the leading edge of technology as it strives to develop more modern and effective ways of combat. Depending on the development, civilians can be benefactors. This was especially true during World War II when great advancements were made in the fields of medicine, chemistry, communication and mechanical technology. Communication advancements were made because of the military need to exchange information. The first wireless phones were developed as was radar and its underwater cousin sonar. They were the forerunning technology of television. The Germans came up with rocket propulsion that made long-range missiles possible and they developed the jet engine although too late for use in the war. The Americans developed power steering for bomber planes and carried the technology over to car manufacturing in the 1950s. Chemistry, as used in manufacturing of goods, was highly developed during the war. Of course we all know about the atomic bomb. See what else you can find that was discovered or developed during the Second World War.
Things To Do!!!
  • Do you think it was difficult for people to recycle during the war after having come out of a decade of depression?
  • Click on a 1943 ad encouraging women to "Be a munitions maker right in your own kitchen"
  • Check out the difference between lard, suet, and tallow. How do they differ from shortening?
  • What do you think of the fact that organisations had to buy equipment for the army?
  • Why do you think Canada stopped recycling after the war? Obviously the technology was in place. In your opinion was this the proper thing to have done?