In the 1940s many products such as drinks and paraffin were supplied in returnable or refillable containers. Food waste was fed to chickens, tins were flattened and buried locally, and the small amounts of packaging materials were burned on the domestic fire or incinerated outdoors. An examination of one local cottage dump of that period indicated that, in addition to tins, the main disposed of items were broken crockery, small non-returnable bottles for meat pastes, sauces and coffee essence, and multi-celled dry batteries for radios. From about the 1950s, increasing amounts of domestic waste led to the introduction of a refuse collection by the local authority. This progressed from the galvanised dustbin to the more secure modern 'wheelie-bin'. The local authority contractors also cut the verges of the roads each year. Since the 1970s, this revealed the increasing amount of litter, principally drinks containers, confectionery wrappers, and cigarette packets, discarded from passing vehicles, particularly on the main routes in the area.
In the 1950s the parish had two shops - a grocer and the post office (& shop), and milk was available locally and was delivered to individual properties by the vans of the Edinburgh & Dumfriesshire Dairy and of the East Lothian Co-operative Society. However housewives shopped (usually once a week) in Edinburgh, Haddington, Tranent and Dalkeith. The 1953 Survey suggested that Humbie 'looks to no one centre' - the only daily bus services being to Dalkeith & Edinburgh, with weekend sevices only to Haddington and to Tranent.
The grocer's shop was a small establishment at Keith Bridge which had been run as a cartage business and shop by the Pendreigh family since the 1870s. The business traded until 1952. The post office and shop at Upper Keith has always had to compete with 'the weekly shop' in the towns and with visiting traders. From the 1970s it was let to a succession of tenants, all of who struggled to make it viable, with an ever-reducing income from post-office activities. In the late 1990s to avoid closure, the tenancy was taken over by a company set up by a group of residents. In 2000 the shop continued to be at the heart of the village for the 50 or 60 regular users and was the distribution point for newspapers, milk supplies, groceries and some local produce.
© 2004 Fourth Statistical Account of East Lothian Society