The planet is our home; we need to be more responsible. Here's what I do.
In England in 1977, there was a massive drought. Standpipes were out in the streets and people had to get water for everything by bucket. The concept was that we had to watch what we used carefully.
I remember many things about my child hood and realise that many other things are missing.
I often see those nostalgic ‘if you recognise this hit ‘like’…’ stories on Facebook with pictures of games/toys/sweets/TV shows etc and in general I think the options of the past may be better left there. But maybe there’s some habits worth resurrecting.
In the local chemists and drugstores you can buy any of a dozen choices, lavender scented, antibacterial, heavy duty. All of it packaged in amazing single use containers. They might be big or small, pump action or hands free!
Batteries to wash your hands?
Hang on a minute!
When I was a kid we had this stuff called oatmeal soap.
It looks a bit like this.
It came in big bars not bottles a with plastic pumps. Plastic bottles that become empty. That need to be replaced.
Washing took place each day with a bowl of water and a special device called a flannel. Once a week a large tub might be filled up. This was called ‘bath night’. Sometimes the water was used by each member of the family one after the other.
Yes we had TV in the 1970s but we had one. In our house there were sliding doors. If you needed to watch TV in the other room the doors were opened and the TV was turned around. It was on wheels. We didn’t own it we got it from radio rentals. To change channels you would stand up and walk across the room. There were three channels. Then later there were four. When the fifth came people thought it wasn’t any good. If the TV didn’t work a man came to the house to repair it.
Batteries to change channels?
The Good Life
There was a TV show about self sufficiency.
<a href="http://“>the good life
At my work place last week, I mentioned that I didn’t have a tumble dryer. There was much consternation and sucking of teeth at this. “Ah but you don’t have children!” I was told.
In the 1970s there were children. Their clothes were dried outside in the garden. A special tool called a washing line was stretched across the space or part of a rotary clothes line. It was a modern labour saving gadget.
Being a parent is very demanding. In the 1970s babies were dressed in nappies. These had a thin liner but were made of towelling. When they were used they were washed afterwards and used again.
The nappies of the 1970s are not in land fill still decomposing.
In the 1970s children received gifts at Christmas and on their birthdays. Usually they received one main gift and some smaller things.
Some Christmas presents were home made.
Roller skates were the most significant outdoor event that I can remember. They were strapped on your shoes and a lot of falling over happened.
In the 1970s children had jobs. They delivered newspapers. This was called a paper round. They used the money to subsidise their pocket money. This was sometimes £1 per week. To get to the job the children would sometimes ride a bicycle.
In the 1970s new foods began to be available. There was a new trend for ‘convenience food.’ Before this people would buy natural ingredients and cook them. This was before the invention of organic foods. the modern word for natural!
Many foods were home made.
People in the 1970s also ate their food from plates as they do today. When the plate had been used it was placed in a bowl of water. The plate would be rubbed with a cloth and then allowed to dry so that it could be used again.
When people needed to contact each other they could use a flat thin surface. It could be marked with a permanent line from a device called a pencil. This surface called paper could then be sent to the recipient by a service called the post. This would take a day. The recipient could then send a reply.
For more immediate communication a gadget called a telephone could be found in the hall way in some house. To contact someone else with a telephone you would turn a round handle on the front called a dial. Six digit codes were used to contact people. You would remember these codes or use a surface or paper to record them.
If you were travelling then contacting another person had two more options. A thicker surface or post card could be marked and sent with the post. Of you could find a small red glass house in the street. If it was vacant you could step inside and use a round metal object or coin to pay to use a public telephone and the same codes.
Growing up I seem to remember that new clothes were so something you got for a special event like Christmas. A new outfit to wear on the day. We had clothes that wore out. They were practical and suitable for the weather. They didn’t have names and labels with brands on.
Some clothing was home made.
If you went shopping you would take bags with you each time and use them again the next time. Some people would use a shopping trolley. Going to the shopping place could be done easily on a huge vehicle called a bus. The driver would accept 12p to take you all the way to the town.
The opportunity to go abroad was invented in the 1970s. It consisted of a trip to France, commonly on a ferry to a camping site. Before this a holiday was to Cornwall where a visit to a beach involved wellies and rain coats and buckets and spades. In France, the food would be weird and foreign.
The special treat of the week might be Friday night fish and chips. This came wrapped in newspaper which was biodegradable and involved no plastic at all. A solid form of recycling.
Sleeping involved two items. They were sheets and blankets. The blanket was a warm woollen device that was inevitably too got or too cold. Getting between the blankets was normally the worst part.
Radiators were heating devices but they might not be centrally controlled. The temperature in each room could vary and might need to be switched on by hand.
There are about two albums of photos from my childhood. Each time a memory was needed either 12, 24 or 36 photos could be taken with a special camera. The photos were a complete surprise. They would be taken to a shop and given to someone. After a week, photos could be collected and it was often a surprise when they were seen for the first time especially if the film came back blank.
There was a TV show called The Wombles. They collected stuff left lying about and put it to good use instead of throwing it away.
<a href="http://“>The Wombles
I’m fairly sure that we had a lot less stuff then.
a blog by a multilingual expat-since-birth, linguist, researcher, mum of three, living in the Netherlands and writing about bilingualism, multiculturalism, parenting abroad, international life...