1943 ad on returning empty product barrels: “Handle Drums with Care to Make Them Last”

Working Together for the War Effort

With its rapid growth leading up to the war, Dow was uniquely positioned to deliver large quantities of essential materials. Some of these included magnesium (metal for lighter airplanes), styrene (a compound used to make tires), and Saran (a plastic with many uses, including shoe innersoles). During World War II, it was critical for customers to return empty barrels to Dow, so manufacturing and transport could keep a rapid pace. This ad shows an industry magnate hitching a ride along U.S. Route 10 – in 1943 still a long-haul highway that led from Seattle to Detroit, with Midland, Michigan, along the way.

Continuing the Legacy

This ad symbolizes two of Dow’s enduring priorities: a customer focus and the responsible use (and re-use) of resources. The former is reflected today in initiatives like Dow’s Product Stewardship Academies, while the latter can be seen in Dow’s 2025 Sustainability Goal of “Advancing a Circular Economy,” emphasizing the need to use resources responsibly and efficiently. In 2017, Dow launched its first Product Stewardship Academies in Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria to share the Company’s knowledge on responsible chemicals management with country authorities and customers.

Returning Empty Barrels