Home & Garden Home 'Make Do and Mend': Posters From WWI Can Inspire Today By Lloyd Alter Design Editor University of Toronto Lloyd Alter is Design Editor for Treehugger and teaches Sustainable Design at Ryerson University in Toronto. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Lloyd Alter Updated August 17, 2020 Migrated Image Share Twitter Pinterest Email Home Green Living Pest Control Natural Cleaning DIY Family Thrift & Minimalism Sustainable Eating One hundred years ago, the first battles of World War I were being fought in Belgium. When the war started, everyone thought it would be over by Christmas and nobody was worrying much about food and supplies, but it turned into four long years that changed the world. In the Guardian, Sarah Lonsdale notes that as the war dragged on, supplies on the home front ran short and people of all economic strata became part of a "save and repair" culture. As the war dragged on, there was a major propaganda campaign to encourage people to conserve. This poster has been all over the internet for years, because the instructions are as relevant today as they were then. It's been on TreeHugger as part of our earlier looks at posters from both World Wars, but this slideshow will only show those from World War I. Sugar credit: United States Food Administration It should be noted that the United States didn't enter the war until April, 1917, but they caught up fast in the poster department. This poster would be a appropriate on any Paleo-dieter's cupboard door. Eat More Vegetables credit: Canadian Government The mediterranean diet is not currently the rage, but less meat and more vegetables are still the rule in our house. And of course nobody eats wheat these days. This poster is Canadian, but the graphics look very much like the American posters shown previously. Don't!!!! credit: British Government The posters of World War 1 are often wordy and dire, compared to those of the Second World War that were more like modern advertising As Corey Bernat noted in the Smithsonian, Most of them are not really about food—they're about behavior modification. Both times, with both wars, the government needed the public to modify their behavior for the national good. (And today, that’s exactly what Michelle Obama is trying to get people to do: change their behavior to curb childhood obesity.) As the Food Administration's publications director put it to state officials back in 1917: “All you gentlemen have to do is induce the American people to change their ways of living!” He’s saying it with irony, of course, because that's a very hard task. How to dress credit: British Really, talk about behavior modification! Canning credit: Canada At some point they finally realized that a little colour and graphic design might help sell this story. Here's a Canadian poster promoting canning, with mom passing the word to daughter. Preserve! credit: British Here is a British poster of the same thing. Sara Lonsdale in the Guardian: Just as the 1940s make do and mend ethos is having a revival today, so the second world war campaign was simply a reinvention from the first, says Susan Grayzel, professor of history at the University of Mississippi and author of Women and the First World War (Routledge). “At the beginning of the first world war, no one anticipated the shortages or rationing ahead,” she says. “The working classes, of course, already knew about how to survive on very little. The middle classes had to learn lessons of scarcity and sacrifice pretty quickly. Can all you can credit: Food Garden Commission "Can all you can" is still being used as a call to action; it got a workout in World War II as well. Can the Kaiser too! credit: National war garden commission Clever little bit of a play on words here. the Greatest Crime in Christendom credit: Migrated Image Sometimes they can be a little over the top. Even in the middle of a war, I am not convinced that wasting your leftovers is the Greatest Crime in Christendom, wherever that is. credit: Herbert Hoover It is hard to believe considering what happened later in his career, but everyone in America loved Herbert Hoover, a successful engineer who was appointed to run the US Food Administration. Helping Hoover credit: Migrated Image Planting a garden was helping Hoover Hooverize me! credit: Hoover valentine This is truly one of my favorites; today we say Supersize Me but then you got Hooverized, like in this valentine. Finally some humor! Wake Up! credit: Lady Liberty asleep on the job This woman really got a workout, to the point that her posters could get a little tedious. Lady Liberty canning credit: Lady Liberty canning Here she is, canning; Every garden a munition plant credit: Lady Liberty Seeding Here she is again, seeding, "Every garden a munition plant." Pow. credit: Uncle sam in the garden Uncle Sam also got in the garden promotion game. credit: Three guys Even that famous yankee doodle trio put down their fifes and drums and got into gardening. Join the sheep club credit: Migrated Image And if you don't want to garden, you can always have fun in the sheep club! credit: US Food Administration Really, you can't go wrong with this diet. It's seriously healthy. credit: Eat less bread/ British They were seriously gluten-intolerant, telling everyone to eat less bread. credit: US Food Administration Corn was a good alternative. Kids can do their bit credit: Kids do their bit Everybody has to do their bit. Eat less meat credit: US Food Administration There is nothing new about meatless Mondays. Save fuel too credit: Save Coal/ American It wasn't just food. People were also asked to save fuel... They even saved daylight! credit: American They even saved daylight! Food will win the war credit: US Food Administration Finally, a dramatic American poster, telling all those immigrants arriving at Ellis Island to pitch in as well. As long as they weren't in an internment camp. But great red, white and blue rainbow.