There is so much talk today about recycling and the waste that is going to our landfills. This was not a problem for us seniors when we were younger because we didn't live in a throwaway world. We lived by the old "waste-not, want-not" rule, the same as our parents did.

There are a lot of things that I have a problem understanding in today's world. We are told to conserve water, but then they tell us to wash all our recyclable things before putting them in the trash can.

Some time ago, I watched a video on what happens to our trash after it's picked up.

It showed volumes of high-pressure water being dispensed on cans, glass and other items to clean them at the recycling center. So why do we have to use our measured-use water at home to clean them when they wash them there?

Our milk came in glass bottles that were returned and used over and over. The bottles had a little bulb at the top to hold the cream and came with a cardboard lid. The lid would pop off if the milk and cream froze so that the bottle wouldn't break.

Pop and beer also came in glass bottles that could be reused as well -- no single-use and throwaway beverage containers in our day.

We also used cloth diapers that were washed and reused until no longer suitable for diapers. They then became rags for cleaning or braided into rugs for the floor. Now almost everyone uses disposable diapers, with a reported 8,000 to 10,000 used until the child is potty trained.


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All those dirty diapers go right into our landfills where no one knows how long it will take them to decompose. My research showed that the estimated time for that to happen is anywhere from 250 to 550 years!

Many people now just throw their shoes away when they get worn-down soles or heels. I still take mine to a shoe repair store to get them new parts to replace the old ones.

One pair of my shoes was so old that the stitching on the top gave out while I was shopping. That was fun trying to walk in them and not have them fall off when I took a step. They now have new stitching and are good for another 10 or so years of use.

Barbara, a friend of mine, brought me three of her old Life magazines from 1962 to look at. I'd forgotten how large they were, almost 11x14 and, of course, they cost a whole 10 cents. I checked them out on the Internet and found that they were selling for $18 on one site.

So if you have any old magazines like that, don't toss them. Be sure and look them up to see what they are worth now.

The ads inside those old Life magazines were amazing to see and read again. Beer and hard liquor as well as cigarette ads were prominent throughout the pages. The old ads asking "Does she ... or doesn't she?" for Miss Clairol and other familiar products were full page.

Remember those ads for the Columbia Record Club with all the different albums that were available? If you joined, you could get six 33-1/3 albums for $1.98. Patti Page, Johnny Mathis, The Platters, the list went on and on, and many of them I have.

And lots of car ads, one of which caught my eye and made me laugh out loud. "What sort of car can you get with a price tag under $3,000?" It then listed five Chrysler cars that were all under $3,000.

Wow, times sure have changed, haven't they?

A native of Minnesota, Carol Olson grew up in South Dakota and Walnut Creek and now lives in Pittsburg. She can be reached at carolleeolson@aol.com.