I love this quote from Ted Conover’s excellent book, Rolling Nowhere: Riding the Rails with America’s Hoboes:
I had first read of [the National Hobo Convention] while folding newspapers for my delivery route, when I was barely a teenager. The brief article, which I clipped, quoted “Steamtrain” Maury Graham, the “King of the Hoboes,” as saying he could tell how the nation’s economy was doing by the length of the cigarette butts he found on the sidewalk.
Maybe that particular indicator no longer works, but the idea behind it is interesting: when we’re doing well, small forms of waste don’t seem like that big a deal; when things are tight, they do. That makes for a pretty good tip: ask yourself what you’d being doing differently if the economy was in the tank, and do it today instead.