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The Arsenal of Democracy
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Rationing and Recycling

Use It Up,
Wear It Out,
Make It Do or Do Without

Wartime slogan

Ration: to limit amounts, based on the size of the supply

The government restricted the amount of meat, heating oil and other products used at home in order to be sure there was enough for military needs. The Office of Price Administration (OPA) also set price controls on certain products so that shortages would not raise market prices.

In mid-1942, Americans were issued ration books for sugar. By December 1942, a driver could buy only four gallons of gasoline each week. These unused ration stamps with fighter plane illustrations are from War Ration Book 3.

Ration stamps numbered 9-18 from Ration Book 3

During 1942, a national speed limit of 35 mph was imposed and pleasure driving was prohibited. By March 1943, meat, cheese, butter, canned goods, coffee, automobile tires and shoes were rationed.

During the war, tokens or stamps were required for purchasing rationed goods. . . . We usually had a surplus of sugar stamps since my mother was not a baker or canner. These were traded by my parents with friends and relatives for gasoline stamps. We traveled while others baked and canned.

Marianne Huebler


Recycle: to reuse something, sometimes after reprocessing the original materials

I also remember the drives to save various items for recycling. We saved such valuable things as toothpaste tubes, which were then made out of metal, aluminum, foil from cigarette packages and even girdles, which contained much-needed rubber.

June R. Shafer

WWII poster shows students helping war effort. Boy is collecting scrap metal.Shafer participated in scrap drives during World War II when she was a nursing student at the University of Michigan. In the poster from the exhibit, students are helping the war effort. The boy symbolizes those who collected scrap metals.

The late 1930s and early 1940s were a tumultuous time for the junk business. It was a time when suddenly Junk became Scrap, a vital raw material required by our nation's industry as it became the arsenal of democracy. . . . The Louis Padnos Iron and Metal Company acquired its first real piece of mechanized scrap processing equipment in the late 1930s. . . . For the first time Louis Padnos bought a new truck rather than someone else's cast off.

Seymour Padnos,
recalling his father's scrap metal business


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