When we nostalgically think back to the late 1940s and 1950s, we might envision a world castunder a black and white hue reminiscent of early television. Leave it to Beaver-style families sataround the kitchen table at breakfast and happily greeted the milkman as he dropped off freshmilk in exchange for the empty, glass bottles from the previous delivery. Businesses saw the enthusiasm of consumers and used it as a golden opportunity to introduce anew model that would keep Americans coming back for more. Enter, disposable plastic.The theory went, if Americans threw away more, they would buy more. Coupled with theAmerican housewife entering the workforce, this was a booming idea that has now fullypervaded our society. World War II had just come to a close and Americans were as excited as ever to loosen theirpurse strings and buy the products that were a distant dream under the cutbacks and rationing ofwar. Within four years of the war ending, Americans purchased over 20 million kitchenappliances including refrigerators and stoves and 21.4 million cars. Televisions, radios, andtelephones were rising in popularity and made of plastic, strengthening the material’s associationwith modernity. While expensive, these purchases were fairly long-lasting items and wouldn’thave Americans rushing back to the store for more right away. Through targeted advertising, disposable products seeped into the market and our collectiveconsciousness during the 1950s and 1960s. In an article published in 1955 by Life Magazine, apicture features a floating family surrounded by objects and a line that reads: “The objectsfloating through the air would take 40 weeks to clean – except no housewife need bother.” It goeson to list a host of objects that can now easily be thrown away including frozen food containers,baby diapers, paper napkins, and popcorn that “pops in its own pan”. Moving beyond helpfulproducts and into the realm of superfluous fun are disposable vases, flowers, and a food bowl fordogs. Other ads entangled our most cherished memories with commodities, seeping the importance ofplastic even further into our psyche. Few ads make this as clear as one that features a storkdelivering a new-born baby wrapped protectively in cellophane. Americans were not accustomed to throwing away the things they used after only one use. It wasan unfamiliar concept that was taught through advertisements in magazines, on television, and onthe radio. Americans were taught how to create mounds of garbage so certain businesses couldbe lucrative. As time went on, other businesses and restaurants adopted the use of single-useitems such as plastic bags, carry-out containers, and plastic cutlery which are now deeply woveninto our modern society. It is hard to imagine the world before their existence but that world didexist. It’s no secret that businesses play a large role in creating the waste that our generation is now faced with solving. However, as consumers, we can educate ourselves and make thoughtful decisions. Whenever possible we can purchase reusable items and support businesses that follow a model that protects our resources and environment. If our society can be taught to throw items away after one use, we can be taught yet again, how to make our belongings last. Sources: https://businessintegrity.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/throwaway-living.png https://www.businessinsider.com/vintage-cigarette-weight-gain-and-gun-ads-2013-1#1970s-before-victorias-secret-existed–20 “Throwaway Living”, Published in Life Magazine, August 1, 1955. Christina Dietrich @christinad0889Christina is a Kindergarten teacher who is passionate about teaching young child how to care for the environment and cultivating eco-friendly habits within her own life. Her experiences have allowed her to visit and learn about conservation efforts around the world, at places including Grand Teton NP, the Galapagos in Ecuador, and Las Terrazas in Cuba. She lives with her husband and corgi in Northern Virginia.