A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


4. Analysis of reasons for failure to salvage

Summary of reasons why salvage is not collected

In the foregoing pages, the causes responsible for the failure to collect salvage were analysed in detail for each kind of salvage. The next table is a summary of this information.

Table 16

Reasons for not salvaging

Paper Metal Rubber Rags Kitchen Waste Bones
% % % % % %
Have little or none; too small an amount to save 29 60 80 43 51 41
Needed for alternative use 69 - - 61 20 41
No collection by authorities, don’t know what to do with it 6 - 2 - 45 4
Forget, can’t be bothered 1 1 - - - 1
Have no separate containers - 17 - - - 6
Miscellaneous 7 11 1 4 5 1
N.A. 5 9 7 9 4 7
All who did not collect 725 299 2047 1347 646 1351
of people who seldom or never collect 24 10 67 44 21 44

Items which could be salvaged

In this connection, the results obtained from another question are of interest. Informants were asked “What sort of things could you salvage if a special appeal were made?”. After the question was asked, a list of items was read out. The following tables show the results.

Table 17
PAPER Could Salvage METAL Could Salvage
% %
Old newspapers 23 Aluminium utensils 4
Magazines and books 26 Lead piping 1
Cheque stubs, tickets, etc. 31 Ornaments 2
Cardboard and cartons 25 Light fittings 2
Music 7 Kitchen utensils 7
Packing paper 6 Old cutlery 2
Cardboard games 3 Old keys 11
Wallpaper oddments 5 Odd prams and cycles 1
Wire and Tape 2
SAMPLE 3073 Toothpaste tubes, etc. 22
Broken tools 4
Grate and fire irons 3
Bent nails and screws 12
Wire mattresses 1
Rubber-soled shoes 8 Sewing cotton 14
Rubber boots and goloshes 6 Snippets and clothes cuttings 21
Cycle and pram tyres and tubes 4 Old dusters 16
Motor tyres and tubes 2 Old sandbags and sacks 4
Tennis and golf balls 2 Old clothes lines 3
Football bladders and toy balls 2 String oddments, ball nets, etc. 8
Hot water bottles 6 Old string gloves 1
Rubber mats 1 Would you turn out rag bag? 38
Sponges and toys 2
Aprons, gloves, etc. 3
Garden hose and wringer rollers 1 SAMPLE 3073
Racquet grips, etc. 1
Insulated electric wire 2

The tables are self-explanatory. It seems that stores of old paper, magazines, cardboard, etc, could still be found. Of metal things, old keys, toothpaste tubes and bent nails are most frequently mentioned as articles which could be given up.

No rubber item is mentioned as possible for salvage by more than a small percentage; old rubber shoes, boots and hot water bottles are those most often mentioned.

Well over one-third of the sample think they could turn out their rag-bag, and one-fifth think they could save snippets and clothes cuttings. Old dusters are mentioned by 16%.

What a collection of the different items mentioned might amount to in salvage tonnage, we have no means of Judging.

Uses competing with salvage

From Table 16, it can be seen that paper, metal, rags and bones, which theoretically could be salvaged, are in many cases put to other uses, and the same is true, though to a lesser degree, for kitchen waste.

Bad organisation of collection

It is mainly for kitchen waste that housewives consider themselves unable to salvage because there is nobody to collect it. A small number refer to the Same difficulty for paper (5%) and bones (4%).

On the whole, badly organised collection is not often given as a reason for not salvaging; though it is possible that this unconsciously makes it easier not to salvage at all, even if there are also other reasons for not doing so.


Lack of interest as a reason for not salvaging

Few housewives say that they don’t salvage because they don’t see any particular need, or that they forget. This low figure can be taken as showing that by now the ovenwhelming majority of housewives is salvage-conscious: salvage publicity has been effective in this respect.

If the results shown in Table 16 are compared with similar results obtained in the 1942 investigation it will be found that the most prevalent reasons for not salvaging are given with very similar frequency.

Table 18
1943 1942 1943 1942 1943 1942 1943 1942
% % % % % % % %
Have little or none; too small an amount to save 80 97 43 37 51 57 41 46
Need for alternative use - - not comparable - asked differently 20 17 41 38

Results for metal and paper cannot be compared directly, as the respective questions were asked differently.

Group differences

Except in the case of bones (Table 15), no significant group differences were found for any of the questions discussed in this section.

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