If you remember this slogan, and chances are you don’t, then you witnessed this country battle foreign enemies during World War II; the slogan was on posters all around the United States.
At the beginning of World War II we were forced to dig into storage and use weaponry left over from the First World War. Physically and mentally, we just weren’t prepared for war despite the injustices that were occurring around the world. It took a single act of war on American soil to spark a movement, provoking us to act. However, as a country and as a larger community (not as individuals) we became apart of something that was bigger than ourselves. We were faced with immediate danger and a common enemy, but rose together and joined together to overcome it. Everyone worked to do their part, through service, thrift, hard work, and recycling . . . yes, recycling.
If you weren’t recycling you were seen as aiding the enemy, since resources for military equipment were scarce, conservation and recycling became a matter of national security. Recycling drives popped up all over the country and advertisements went up on billboards and streetcars. Thousands of tons of material, including rubber, paper, used oil, glass and scrap metal were all collected and recycled to support the war effort. It was quite possibly the largest coordinated recycling drive ever with 20,000 salvage committees and 400,000 volunteers helping out. Everyone participated and did their part, it was even said that salvaging metal scraps from corsets alone saved enough metal to build two warships. Imagine the amount of people working together to accomplish such a task. If you were to compare the enthusiasm for recycling to that of today you’d be disappointed. Around the United States recycling has steadily picked up in the cities, but not at the rates we recycled material during World War II. Do we need those materials any less today?
If anything we need metal, plastics, paper, glass and other materials to be recycled even more. The Earth has its limits on what it can provide. Droughts, population growth, pollution, and wars all put stress on the planet, thereby creating less food and other natural resources for people, plants and wildlife. When it comes to recycling rates, Texas ranks low in the United States. It’s not because we lack the accessibility, even though that is a problem, but we lack the will and enthusiasm to get into a habit of recycling.
The other question that remains is what dissolved our American solidarity? What changed? Aren’t we still one nation under God? We were one nation during World War II and after 9/11, but time weakened our bond when it should’ve strengthened it. We get so worked up over what we hear on the radio or see on television in regards to politics, religion and our own differences that we forget how much alike we all are. Whether our neighbors are down the street or across the world, at the end of the day we all want and need the same things. If a foreign invader were to come tomorrow and attempt to end our way of life, you could bet your bottom dollar that we’d be together again – we’d put aside our differences and work together. We shouldn’t forget that, especially with the condition that the country and the planet are in.