European Footprints
Jun 14 · 1 min read
British poster from World War II (Wikipedia, public domain), INF3/196, The National Archives UK
A short history of Recycling
Recycling means converting something that is not useful anymore (waste) into a new object or material — pretty simple, uhm? But do you really know for how long this practice has been around?
The concept of recycling as we know it (for sustainability reasons) was introduced by the environmental movement in the 1970s. However, the practice of conserving and reusing materials dates back to thousands of years — starting from Japan around 1000 BC.
In the past, it was mainly a household practice, as it was not that easy and quick to produce brand-new products prior to the industrial age. In order to get recycling to a larger scale, we need to wait until the 1930s and 1940s when the scarcity of materials such as paper, nylon, rubber caused by the war and the economic depression made recycling (or “salvage” as it was better known) a national priority for several countries in the world.
During World War Two, for instance, the British Government set up a national campaign known as “The Paper Salvage” to encourage citizens to recycle materials like paper, in order to support the war effort. This programme went on until the 1950s.
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