Beyond the Dumpster: The Interesting Ancient History of Recycling and Garbage

Beyond the Dumpster: The Interesting Ancient History of Recycling and Garbage

Think recycling is new? Both literally and figuratively, recycling is old news. With an interesting history, the recycling of trash has been in play on and by the earth since the days of dinosaurs decomposing into our favorite fossil fuels.

500 B.C.

Think moving waste without your dumpster mover is tough? In early Athens, Greece, city inhabitants were required by law to dispose of waste at least one-mile from city walls.

1031 A.D.

The first recorded reuse of paper waste was seen in Japan; recycled into new paper and resold in small family-owned shops nationwide.

1690

Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Mill introduced recycling using a manufacturing process that transformed fibers from cotton and linen rags into paper.

1776

The British are coming… And American rebels turned to recycling to fuel the materials necessary for the War of Independence.

1865

The Salvation Army in London, England began collecting, sorting and recycling unwanted items; later migrating to the U.S. in the 1890s.

1897

NYC established a materials recovery facility where rubbish such as paper, carpet, burlap, twin, rubber, and metals were sorted for recycling and reuse.

1900s

‘Waste as wealth’ programs promoted the ability to earn money by sorting/reselling items found in household garbage.

1904

America’s first aluminum can recycling plants opened their doors in Cleveland and Chicago.

1916-1918

‘Don’t waste it, save it’ referendum was promoted by the government to circumvent the massive shortage of raw materials in WWI.

1930s

Peddling rags, metal, etc. helped many survive the Depression.

1940

Rationing and recycling helped support war efforts.

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