Culture History Posters for the Plague 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 March 23, 2020 Public Domain. Cover your mouth!/ Pennsylvania society for the prevention of tuberculosis Share Twitter Pinterest Email Culture History Travel Sustainable Fashion Art & Media Holidays Community We've lived through crises before, with a bit of help from inspiring or hectoring posters. We have shown many collections of old posters on TreeHugger (see them in related links below!) and I was looking for some related to the transmission of diseases, which were pretty obscure and limited. Then Alice Bennett did a tweet thread which showed that really, there were lots of posters in our collection that are relevant to these times of COVID-19. WPA art project/Public DomainHaving a very young granddaughter, I am going to start with this one. It's really hard to keep your distance with a cute baby around. UK Ministry of Health/Public DomainAfter the First World War, doctors and officials understood what caused tuberculosis, but didn't have the antibiotics to treat it. However, as Professor Dame Sally Davies noted, they were able to knock the rate in half through better nutrition, improved hygiene and sanitation, and slum clearance. They also knew that it was transmitted, much like the coronavirus, through aerial dispersion from coughing. The Victorian Tuberculosis Association/Public DomainThere were campaigns to change people's habits, much like the smoking or anti-littering campaigns of our era; spitting was very common, and is pretty much unheard of today (although I saw someone do it when I was out running yesterday, so perhaps we still need this campaign). Fingerlicking good!/Public DomainLike the coronavirus, the TB bacillus could survive on surfaces, so people had to change their habits. I will not be doing this anymore. No hoarding! McGill Collection/Public DomainThere is nothing new about hoarding; even polite law-abiding Canadians do it. Eventually, there were laws against it and rationing was imposed. Office of Price administration/Public DomainReally, when you read about people buying up everything in sight, either for themselves or to resell, you have to wonder if there should once again be an office of price administration and rationing. I mean, how much toilet paper do you need? Office of Price administration/Public DomainWe have called for carbon rationing before, but wonder if it isn't time to think about rationing everything, especially with so many people out of work. Stay home! Office of Transportation/Public DomainNot too many people are traveling now with the borders closing and the airplanes not flying, but this guy has the right idea: mix up a drink, grab something to read, turn on the radio and the fan, and hug the dog. Office of Defense Transportation/Public DomainBesides, who wants to be out there with all those crowds? That's not social distancing. Save money and stretch your budget. US Food Administration/Public DomainOf course, we don't just have a pandemic, we also have an economic meltdown with millions out of work, and it's time to roll out all the posters about frugal green living, cooking with care, and not wasting. United States Food Administration/Public DomainI am not sure that wasting food is indeed The Greatest Crime in Christendom, but it is a big deal, especially when you are trying to stretch your dollar. The bottom line is "live simply- avoid all food waste." The Government of Canada/Public DomainIt wasn't the same as ordering online, but people could order food over the phone or by dropping a note off at the store because many people didn't have SUVs they could drive to the Walmart. And then, as now, it was very easy to order more than you need. So check your list carefully. WWII poster, US Government/Public DomainAnd it goes without saying that you should use all of your leftovers. US Government/Public DomainIt's also a time when we should stop buying stuff we don't need, for fixing what we have instead of replacing it, for making do. Unknown source WW1 poster/Public DomainFinally, if you are still working and have to show up at a Zoom conference as I do, remember that you don't have to get dressed up. Your dirty bathrobe should be a point of pride; you are saving water and energy and concentrating on your work. General Electric Company via American Legion/Public DomainAnd more seriously, instead of binge-watching or drowning in Twitter, perhaps it's time to do something that you have always wanted to do; take an online course or pay serious attention to your family. I am going to try and finish writing that book I have been working on, and learn to like the dog. What about you?