Recent years have seen increased attention paid by geographers to the phenomenon of household waste recycling. Much of this attention by geographers has focused on contemporary recycling, especially contemporary policy and behaviour. This article takes a wider temporal perspective and considers the antecedent `National Salvage Campaign' of the Second World War. It considers the conceptual lessons from this recycling campaign, drawing out the importance of themes of scale, relatedness, civic duty and positive identity. The article explores the socially constructed boundaries that attempt to find an `appropriate' place for waste and how such boundaries are constantly reconsidered and redefined.