Recycling the Past: A Baby Boomer’s Look Back at the Paper Drives of the 1960s

Paper Drives 1960S

As a baby boomer who grew up and attended public school in Southern California in the 1960s, I have some great memories of participating in paper drives. Paper drives were a cultural phenomenon of the era and played a significant role in raising awareness about environmental issues, as well as promoting conservation and recycling efforts.

The Origins of Paper Drives

Back in the 1960s, the environmental movement was just starting to gain steam, and paper drives were one of the most popular ways for schools and communities to get involved. The Cold War and the threat of nuclear war also played a role in this. The government and media were pushing for citizens to be prepared for a nuclear attack and recycling was seen as a way to conserve resources and be prepared.

In our school, we were taught about the importance of recycling and conservation, and our school organized paper drives as a way for us to actively contribute to these efforts. We would collect newspapers and magazines from our homes, as well as from our neighbors and local businesses. The school would then collect and sell the paper to raise money for various school programs and activities.

The Impact of Paper Drives

As a kid, participating in paper drives made me feel like I was doing something important to support the environment. I was proud to be a part of something that I believed was making a difference and it was a great way to learn about conservation and recycling. I also learned that it was important to conserve resources and to be prepared for an emergency.

Beyond the personal feeling it gave us, paper drives had a significant impact on the environment. Collecting and recycling paper helped to reduce waste, conserve resources, and save trees. In addition, it also provided an economic benefit to local businesses, as the paper that was collected would be sold to paper mills.

Paper Drives in Schools

At our school, in North Hollywood, California paper drives were an annual event. Teachers and staff would organize the drives and encourage students to collect as much paper as possible. We would be given a goal to reach and would compete against the other classes to see who could collect the most.

It was a fun and engaging way to learn about environmental issues and to take action to make a difference. The school provided a sense of community and cooperation and it was a great way for kids to be part of something bigger than themselves. I remember how proud I felt when our class reached our goal, and how happy I was to see the curbs along the street full of paper we had collected – it was impressive!

The Cultural Significance of Paper Drives

Paper drives were more than just a way to collect and recycle paper, they were also a cultural phenomenon of the 1960s. They represented the growing awareness and concern about environmental issues, and the desire of young people to take action to make a difference.

In a time when the youth were beginning to challenge the status quo, paper drives provided an opportunity for us to make a tangible impact on the environment. It was a way for us to express our values and beliefs, and to be part of something that was bigger than ourselves.

One funny story I remember from those days is about a friend of mine who’s dad was determined to help his kids’ class win the prize for bringing the most paper to the paper drive. So, he went to all the local grocery stores and bought all the newspapers they had! My friend’s class ended up winning the prize, but I think it was more of a victory for his dad’s determination than for his class’s paper collecting skills.

Paper drives were a cultural phenomenon of the 1960s, and I am proud to have been a part of them. These events were fun and participating in paper drives helped me to learn about conservation and recycling, and it made me feel proud to be doing something important to support the environment.

David Goldstein
David launched Boomer Buyer Guides with his wife Alice to provide Baby Boomers with trustworthy, well-researched information about products and services that Baby Boomers buy. Learn more about David Goldstein