By Lily Kongslien
Special to the Star Journal
Think of all the disposable items we use and enjoy today. Most of these were unheard of years ago; some never dreamed of. I am amazed at the paper products we have that are used once and then discarded; among them are paper plates, cups, napkins, table cloths, baby diapers, disposable razors, ball point pens, plastic forks, spoons, knives, aluminum containers for roasting the holiday bird, cupcake papers and many more.
Today, tissues come in all colors, perfume; some contain lanolin to soften the skin, square and oblong, small and man-sized. Fancy hand-made handkerchiefs were standard articles that everyone, men and women alike kept on their person and used as necessary. Ladies handkerchiefs were lacy, colored, seasonal and monogrammed.
The men had fancy monogrammed ones worn folded “just so” and placed in their suit coat breast pocket and not used; they were only for style and show. They were folded to show off the initials, sometimes to match the necktie they wore. Men who worked outdoors carried large blue and red patterned and faithfully used them; white ones for Sunday. A box of handkerchiefs was always a nice present to give and also to receive. A “lady” always carried a hankie, and maybe one for a spare. My mother made handkerchiefs with find crocheted lace and with my initials. It is hard to find hankies in the stores now days.
The most modern convenience today for young mothers is the disposable diaper for her baby. Some of us remember the millions of cloth diapers we laundered for our babies. During the war you could buy disposable diapers. I was advised by friends to be sure to use these as I traveled from Texas to Rhinelander with my new baby during WWII. I did secure one package which was used on the train back to Wisconsin. When I got settled back home, it was back to cloth diapers and washing, washing, washing, washing! I still feel that the soft cotton diapers felt better on the baby, but for the convenience, the disposables win out.
There are disposable razors, plastic gloves and many items in a nursing home and hospital setting that are more sanitary and healthful. Covers for thermometers are one example and bathroom paper cups can be used for all kinds of hygiene purposes such as mouthwash and teeth brushing and for that drink of water in the middle of the night.
The first disposable plates were those of thick “cardboard” and the food tasted funny off those first plates. Now we have plastic plates, fancy colored plates with dividers, nine inch plates and seven inch plates and larger. No dishwashing! Styrofoam is in our vocabulary now, with cups and plates of all sizes and shapes and uses. We also have Styrofoam containers we use to bring our leftover meals home from restaurants.
All these new products have certainly added to the problem of garbage disposal space and landfills, sharpening our awareness of the necessity for recycling usable materials and re-using them for other things. Years ago not much thought was given to cans, bottles and junk in general as the town dump was handy and used by residents as needed. Pollution has come into the picture and the definite need for safe ways to dispose of our waste is vital to a safe and clean land.
We must be thankful for the new products that make life easier and more sanitary, but we must recycle to keep our land a beautiful resource for recreation and outdoor living.