Conserving Clothing, Fight Waste Booklet, page 19, 1944

Historical Context
Once the United States entered World War 2, it became evident that conservation efforts needed to be made in all areas of the economy. People on the home front contributed to the war effort by rationing consumer goods, recycling, buying war bonds, and replacing men in the factories with women.

Our soldiers needed lots of clothing–three to ten times more than Americans on the home front. The clothing industry had to work at top speed in order to clothe the soldiers. Factories shifted their production to the needs of the military. Because of this, the amount of consumer goods became limited. If people at home could cut down on their supply of new clothing, it would be helpful to the war effort. Booklets were distributed to Americans on how they could extend the life of their clothing.

Next, the government began a rationing program in which consumers were limited in the amount of goods they could purchase. A massive advertising campaign urged households to avoid waste. “Food is a weapon” became the slogan of the Wartime Nutritional Program. Housewives were encouraged to recycle fats, bottles, tin, copper, paper, etc. They were called upon to be creative in planning meals based on the rationed food that was available to them. Because of their sacrifices, the people on the home front played a major part in the war effort.
Essential Question
How does war impact a society?
Check for Understanding
Summarize the main idea of this document and evaluate the impact on the general public.
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World War II - Conserving Clothing, Fight Waste booklet, New York State Archives, NYSA_A4287-78_B3F3_p19
Document Description
An article encouraging people to conserve their clothing and directing them on how to do that. The article is from the Fight Waste Booklet on page 19, 1944.
  1. What are some things you could have done to conserve clothing if you had lived during World War 2?
  2. What things did the government encourage Americans to salvage during the war?
  3. Why was it necessary to recycle (salvage) things during World War 2?
  4. What were salvaged fats and greases used for?
  5. Why was tin such an important recycling metal during the war?
Historical Challenge
Research what sorts of items Americans on the home front were asked to give up for the war effort during previous wars (American Revolution, Civil War, World War I).
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: In the first year of being a soldier, each man needed about 75 pounds of wool to make his clothing. How much wool would 25 soldiers need during their first year?
Science: What are some ways in which recycled fats and grease were used during World War 2?
English Language Arts: Create a poster in which you encourage people to recycle tin, paper, fat, clothing, or iron during World War 2.
  1. Stalcup, Ann. On the Homefront: Growing up in Wartime England. Shoe String Press, Incorporated, March 1998. ISBN: 0208024913
  2. Colman, Penny. Rosie the Riveteer: Women on the Homefront in World War II. Crown Books for Young Readers, February 1998. ISBN: 0517885670
  3. Colman, Penny. Where the Action Was: Women War Correspondents in World War II. Crown Books for Young Readers, February 2002. ISBN: 0517800756
  4. Levy, Patricia. Home Front During World War II. Raintree Publishers, August 2003. ISBN: 0739860658