Why is recycling important and how it first started.
During the age of the ancient Greeks in 400 BC, the practice of recycling has been documented. During those times, people did not have access to the technology we now have in order to produce the resources they needed as quickly and efficiently as we can now. Resources were extremely scarce and because of this, archaeological studies show that people in the ancient times had far less household waste than we do now. Researchers have concluded that because of this evidence of less household waste, people in ancient times were forced to recycle more of their waste in order to make up for the absence or lack of new materials.
Before the industrial movement came along, researchers have found evidence of bronze and other metals that were used for various purposes in early Europe being melted down in order for them to be reused. In Britain, dustmen collected dust and ash that was produced by coal and wood fires in order to use them as a base material in the production of bricks for building. While the purpose of this type of recycling was not to be ecologically friendly, this was one of the side effects of recycling without them even knowing it. The main purpose of this type of recycling, however, was for economic reasons. Builders did not have to waste as much raw and new material by using the dust and ash as “fillers” for their bricks. This also allowed public waste to be removed and reused which aided much in the area of pollution and waste removal.
In the early 1800s, a man named Benjamin Law, in Yorkshire, invented a recycling process that allowed cloth rags to be turned into wool. He came up with a process that allowed old rag material to be combined with raw wool in order to come up with a recycled version called “mungo” wool. This industry greatly helped the economy of Yorkshire and it lasted till the early 1900s. Another important resource that was recycled during this time was drink bottles. Drink manufacturers like Schweppes offered an incentive for recycled drink bottles.
In the 1900s, industrialization came about which brought a huge demand for cheaper materials. Metals were in a huge demand and the process for recycling metals was invented. Scrap metals were valuable as it was much more affordable than using raw and pure metals. Railroads, in particular, fervently purchased and sold tons of scrap metal. Other industries that purchased scrap metals were the automobile and steel industries. Peddlers scoured the streets for scrap materials like unwanted machinery, old pots and pans, and other different types of metal. They were able to earn a living by collecting and selling the unwanted materials they found in dumps and streets. By the early 20th century, thousands of these “peddlers” were taking advantage of this scrap metal need and relied on collecting unwanted materials as a source of income.
During both world wars, resources were in high demand and there were resource shortages on both warring sides. This also caused the promotion and encouragement of recycling. Governments headed up campaigns urging their citizens to donate and conserve their resources in order to keep up with demand for weapons and other necessities. Today’s need for recycling is driven by the rising energy costs and depletion of fossil fuels. The concern for the ailing environment also drives the public to recycle more.