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Childhood Memories – Making Money and Preserving the Environment

Childhood Memories – Making Money and Preserving the Environment

Childhood Memories – Making Money and Preserving the Environment: Ahead of My Time

In the fifties and sixties people weren’t aware of environmental issues like they are today.Childhood Memories – Making Money and Preserving the Environment As a kid I must have been ahead of my time. I was helping our environment and didn’t know it. Actually, I was just trying to make a little spending change, but my money making projects were environment friendly.

Childhood Memories – Making Money and Preserving the Environment: Glass Pop-Bottles

The first project was collecting glass pop-bottles. When I started collecting bottles the refund price on a glass pop-bottle was 2 cents. That may not seem like much now, but in a time when a kid could by five red bears for a penny, a tootsie roll for a nickel, a soda for a dime, and a comic book for fifteen cents…2 cents per bottle was a great price. I made a small fortune for an eleven-year-old.

It was not uncommon for me to earn two or three bucks a week with my gathering duties. I patrolled highway sidings, bridges, creek banks, teenage hangouts, and old farm dump-sites, (with permission of course.) My friends and I patrolled our little town with wagons and gunny sacks. It was a rare pop-bottle that escaped our vigilant searches.

Childhood Memories – Making Money and Preserving the Environment: Speculation

I also learned the principles of speculation. When I heard the price of bottles was rising from 2 cents to 3 cents I stashed my bottles in our shed for two months. When the day of the price raise occurred I took ten of my bottles and sold them at the local grocery store. The grocer gave me thirty cents. Armed with the knowledge of the increase I then unloaded my total stash. I sold three hundred bottles and amassed a small fortune of nine dollars. I was a rich man.

I was sad when throw away bottles hit the market. A whole cottage industry of collecting glass pop-bottles was eliminated for kids and some adults…and the roadways and landscape became more cluttered with unnecessary debris.

Childhood Memories – Making Money and Preserving the Environment: Making Whistles

Another enterprise I started as an eleven-year-old boy was making railroad strap whistles. The railroads used to tie loads onto freight cars with metal strapping. When a car was unloaded the workers threw the metal strapping on the ground and left it.

My oldest brother showed me how to make a railroad strap whistle by clipping 4 inches of the strapping, folding it over a certain way, and blowing through it. You could hear the whistle a block away. It was great. That demonstration inspired my second environmentally beneficial cottage industry.

I collected all the strapping left by the siding. There were twelve straps which totaled almost two hundred fifty feet. I made 700 whistles from the strapping. My fingers were raw from bending the metal, but I was ready to market my product. I kept 100 railroad strap whistles in reserve to give to family and friends. I sold 600 railroad strap whistles at a nickel each which netted me a tidy thirty dollars in one month.

I made three more strapping collections during the next six months. I was careful not to reveal my material source even to my closest friends. During that time I made more than eighty dollars. Eventually, I saturated the market and began looking for other sources of income.

Childhood Memories – Making Money and Preserving the Environment: Lessons Learned

What I learned from collecting bottles and making whistles was one man’s trash can be another man’s treasure. I think adults can teach their children great lessons about the environment and entrepreneurship if they urge their children to put small ideas into action. Their children just might acquire a good work ethic and and learn to be environmentally beneficial at the same time. Many great businesses have come from simple ideas and humble beginnings.

Copyright 2011 J-me

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  1. Danny Guess says:

    I remember the railroad strapping whistles. I had a couple when I was young. I would love to get my hands on one now.

  2. Pearl Woodward says:

    I guess the strapping changed on railroad cars now. They’re not the same. Do you have any of the whistles left? I’ve been trying to make one without success. I would buy one from you if you had one.

  3. Jared McPherson says:

    I remember the whistles, I had mine taken away in school, lol. I’ve actually been trying to find a few, could you help me with that?

  4. Dani Brennan says:

    I have two that I recently found when cleaning out my parents house, don’t know if I could. Part with them, but you never know 🙂

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