A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46

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Every person who did not, or only occasionally collected any of the articles, was asked “Why do you never, or seldom, collect?”. The following tables show the results of this question for each article separately.

Table 7

Reasons for not collecting paper *

Need paper for fire 31
Need for shopping and sandwich wrappings 38
None to spare for miscellaneous reasons 29
Don’t take a newspaper 5
No collector; don’t know what to do with it 6
Forget, no time, don’t bother 1
Miscellaneous 7
N.A. 5
All who sometimes or never collect paper 725

* In reading this and the next tables, it should he kept in mind that housewives could give more than one reason why they do not collect.

Housewives do not salvage paper mainly because they use it for other purposes. It is chiefly used for, lighting fires and for shopping, but there are other uses, too - “Need for lining cupboards and shelves”, “Used for W.C.”, Used for cutting out patterns”, “We have sickness and so we need a lot; then it has to be burnt”, “Daily woman needs it for cleaning”.

Only 43 people out of the whole sample say that they don’t save paper because nobody collects it and they don’t know what to do with it. Only 5 housewives did not collect, because they forgot or did not realise the importance of collecting.

The following answers are grouped under the heading “Miscellanous: “Collector calls when I am at work”... “disheartened now; collected books and saw them thrown in with dirt.” “I am an invalid, and it is too far to a bin”... have nowhere to store; I am short of space”...”I don’t put out anything soiled.”.. don’t like to throw letters away”...”it does not always seem worth saving it when you know the children will get at most of it”.

Taken together, these reasons are not of great numerical importance; only 7% of the housewives mentioned any of them.

Table 8

Reasons for not collecting rubber

% % of total sample
Have none or very little so far 80 53
Only give when there is a special drive 1 -
All given already 10 7
Have some, but don’t know what to do with it 2 1
Forget about it, no time to bother, did not know that it should be saved - -
Miscellaneous 1 1
N.A. 7 5
All who sometimes or never oolloct rubber 2047

59% of the housewives do not collect any rubber. Of those, the great majority (90%) say that they have nothing to collect or have given all they possibly could give, 44 housewives (2%) said they have some, but don’t know what to do with it. 14 did not think it important to collect it.

The following are typical of the remarks included under the heading Miscellaneous:”Bicycle tyre used for patching”... “Kept it as it is scarce and it may be 6 useful”...“Will not put tyres out as is said salvage men take it for mending their shoes”...”No good putting it out because children steal it”.

Table 9

Reasons for not collecting metal

% % of total Sample
Have very little metal salvage 60 17
Have no separate container for metal 17 2
Forget about it 1 -
Miscellaneous 11 1
N.A. 9 1
All who sometimes or never collect metal 299

Only 9% never salvage metal, or only salvage it irregularly. The sample of non-collectors is thus small. Miscellaneous reasons given include: “Don’t salvage as there is so much lying around rusting”... “I put it in dustbins because, if it is put in street bins, it only gets taken by children”...”somebody said bins were no good”...”Corporation fail to collect.”

Table 10

Reasons for not collecting rags

% % of total sample
Have none to spare 43 19
Need for cleaning purposes 36 16
Need for needlework, mending, etc. 24 11
Use for fires, after having used for cleaning 1 1
Forget about it, did not know we are supposed to collect it - -
No collection 1 -
N.A. 9 4
All who sometimes or never collect rags. 1347

43% of the sample did not collect, or only irregularly collected, rags: the overwhelming majority say that they do not salvage because they need their rags for other purposes, mainly for cleaning and needlework. Some of those who Just say they have none to spare may also mean that they use them for cleaning and needlework. Farmers’ wives make use of them to wrap round flowers for market; others say generally no rags are wasted on a farm; one keeps them for her daughter’s confinement, another to cover bee-hives, another to make scarecrows. Other women have none to spare because they are given to poor women or gypsies.

There are so few miscellaneous remarks that they amount to less than 1% and are therefore not included in the table. Typical remarks in this category were; Rag-man won’t take cotton rags; burn husband’s oily clothes; they smell too bad to keep; get smelly if kept; would salvage if I knew they would be collected regularly I am waiting to try to get a price for them.

Table 11

Reasons for not collecting kitchen waste

% % of total Sample
Not collected, or irregularly collected by authorities; bin too far away 45 9
Destroyed - too little 41 9
Put on compost heap; manure 12 2
Think they have none 10 2
Give to dog and cat 8 2
Miscel1aneous 5 1
N.A. 4 1
All who sometimes or never collect kitchen waste 646

One-fifth of the housewives say that they put kitchen waste to some alternative use - either making compost heaps, or giving it to pets.

(Those who feed their own poultry or pigs are not included in this table, as they were considered to be salvaging their food waste).

Nearly half say that their kitchen waste is not collected, or that they have no easy access to a food bin, A number of these women (as well as those specifying it as their main reason) think they have little or nothing worth while salvaging.

There are still a number of people who, by putting the wrong things in the kitchen waste salvage bin, spoil all the contents. It seemed useful, therefore, to find out whether people know that certain articles, which are always being mentioned in salvage publicity, must not be put in with kitchen waste. Housewives were asked the following question:

Table 12

Do you know that the following should not be mixed with kitchen waste?

Yes No
% %
Fishbones 76 23
Rhubarb leaves 73 26
Coffee grounds 70 29
Vinegar 70 29
Disinfectant 79 20

About a quarter of the sample did not know that any one of these five items should not be put in kitchen waste.

Table 13

Reasons for not collecting bones

% % of total Sample
Buy meat without bone when possible 38 17
Give to dog or cat 41 18
Put in dustbin. No place to put bones 6 3
No collection; smell 4 2
Did not think small ones any good 3 1
Forget about it, have no time to bother 1 1
Miscellaneous 1
N.A. 7 3
Those who sometimes or never collect bones 1351

44% of the sample do not salvage bones. Of these, more than one third say that they have none. Our interviewers report that where they had the opportunity to follow up the “None” answer, they found that the informant did not mean literally none, but thought that the bones she had were so small that they were not worth while saving. These cases are recorded under the appropriate heading in the table. It is quite possible that the number of housewives who think thus is in reality larger than the 3% given in the table.

Giving bones to dogs and cats is the most frequently mentioned reason for not salvaging them.

A small number do not collect bones because they smell. In this connection, the following table is of some interest.

Table 14

Do you clean and dry bones before salvaging ?

Yes 41
No 48
Some 3
N.A. 8
All those who salvage bones 2061

It will be seen that not quite half of the women who salvage bones clean them beforehand.

It was shown in Table 3 that more urban than rural housewives salvage bones. Some indication as to why that should be so can be obtained from the next table.

Table 15

Reasons for not collecting bones - by Urban and Rural

Urban Rural
% %
Rarely have any 41 33
Give to animals 40 46
Irregular collection 3 8
All other reasons 20 19
All who never, or only occasionally, collect bones 1073 278

Rural housewives get more bones with their meat; but they have more pets to which they have to give bones, and also the collection is less regular.

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