An Earth Day Message from 1801

The advertisement submitted by three papermakers in the Pittsfield Sun implored: “Ladies, Save Your Rags.

This was way back in 1801, long before they figured out how to make paper from trees.

Message: A waste product is a raw material

As the subscribers have it in contemplation to erect a papermill in Dalton the ensuing spring; and the business being very beneficial to the community at large, they flatter themselves that they shall meet with due encouragement.

Message: Buy local to supprt your community.

And that every woman who has the good of her country and the interest of her own family at heart, will patronize them, by saving her rags and sending them to their manufactory, or to the nearest shopkeeper, for which the Subscribers will give a generous price.

On top of this being a really great piece of ad copy, these same messages resonate more than 200 years later.

We recognize that waste products can be valuable raw materials through recycling.

We recognize that spending our money wisely close to home can enhance the viability of our communities.

We recognize our individual actions have local, national and global implications.

Zenas Crane and his two partners had no clue about recycling, waste minimization and Earth Day, but they clearly understood what must happen for a business to succeed.

Zenas and his partners understood that without “encouragement” their manufactory would have no future.

The same is true today. Where and how we spend our “encouragement” has a direct impact on which manufactories we wish to improve.

So, as we approach Earth Day once again, it’s time for all of us to contemplate that when we reach into our pockets, we’re not just spending our money, we are giving encouragement. We’re saying:

“I like what you’re doing so much, I’m going to pay you to keep doing it.”




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