This leads to one of the most instructive branches of the whole campaign, the one devoted to the elimination of waste in the household. Under the direction of the Patriotic Food League a voluminous and helpful literature has been prepared and distributed. One booklet devoted to “Waste in the Well-to-do Household” shows how gas, coal and electric light bills, and the whole cost of living can be reduced. Another called “Household Economies” has helpful hints for mistress and maid: a third is “The Best Foods in War-Time.” A stirring plea was made to every household in the shape of a card surmounted by a picture of Lord Kitchener and containing his famous warning to the English people: “Either the civilian population must go short of many things to which it is accustomed in times of peace, or our armies must go short of munitions and other things indispensable to them.” Below this quotation was the stirring question:
“Which is it to be: economy in the household or shortage in the Army and Navy?”
Under the title of “War Savings in the Home” a plan of campaign has been sent to every household in England for operation during the whole period of war. Among other things it urges every family to give up meat for at least one day in the week, and in any case to use it only once a day. Margarine is recommended instead of butter. Home baking is strenuously suggested. It is shown how reduction in personal and household expenditure can be effected, for example, in the laundry by using curtains and linen that can be washed in the house. A special appeal to dispense with starched and ornamental lingerie is made. In these and many other ways the style of living is simplified so that the amount of domestic service in every home is greatly cut down and much labour set free for war work and general production.
Indeed, no phase of Life or Work has escaped the Search-Light of the benevolent Inquisition which has wrought Conservation out of Waste.
It has a larger significance than merely changing habits and converting pounds and pence into guns and shells. It means that England is creating a Sovereignty of Small Investors, thus setting up the safeguard that is the salvation of any land. The War Savings Certificate will have a successor in the shape of a more permanent but equally stable Government bond.
When all is said and done you find that huge reservoirs of Savings at work form a country’s real bulwark. Through investment in small, accessible, and marketable securities a people become independent and therefore more efficient and productive. It mobilises money.
Behind all the spectacular publicity that has swept hundreds of millions of British shillings into safe and profitable employment is a Lesson of Preparedness that America may well heed. It means a form of National Service that is just as vital to the general welfare as physical training for actual conflict. A nation trained to save is a nation equipped to meet the shock of economic crisis which is more potent than the attack of armed forces.