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Recycling in the Depression

Food cupboard
Food cupboard circa 1930, Maker unknown, New Zealand. Purchased 1997 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds. Te Papa

During the Great Depression, few New Zealanders could afford new furniture. One cash-strapped person 'made do' by fashioning this food cupboard from old packing cases. Its mesh sides let the air flow around food, keeping it fresh for longer.

Food packaging was recycled too. People used oat and flour sacks to line old clothes and make underwear. Coarse sugar sacks became anything from curtains to outerwear in these 'sugar bag years'.

© Copyright Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington, New Zealand.