The Birth of Modern Recycling Programs

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Even though recycling was commonly practiced by all households during pre-industrial ages, large-scale recycling programs did not arise until the twentieth century. The first organized programs were created in the 1930s and 1940s, when a worldwide depression limited people's ability to purchase new goods and the outbreak of World War II dramatically increased demands for certain materials. Throughout the war, goods such as nylon, rubber, and various metals were recycled and reused to produce weapons and other materials needed to support the war effort. After the war ended in 1945, however, the United States and other countries experienced a postwar economic boom that produced many new products and caused recycling to fade into oblivion for several decades.

It was not until the environmental movement of the 1960s and 1970s that recycling once again emerged as a popular idea. This movement began in 1962 with the publication of Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring, detailing the toxic effects of the chem-

ical DDT on birds and their habitats. The book raised the consciousness of many people, both in the United States and abroad, about the dangers to the environment from chemicals and other toxins produced by modern industries. In the United States, the hippie culture in particular embraced the cause of environmen-talism and agitated for various environmental changes, including the increased recycling of wastes. In 1970 environmental activists organized the first Earth Day to bring national attention to environmental issues, including the problem of increasing wastes and the need for recycling.

That same year the United States created the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which soon began to regulate garbage disposal to ensure public health and environmental safety. The closing of many municipal landfills in the wake of these new EPA regulations, in turn, led to a shortfall of landfill space in the 1980s. This problem was highlighted by the odyssey of the Mobro garbage bargeā€”a boat filled with trash that departed New York in 1987 and traveled down the North and South American coasts for months looking for a place to offload its cargo. This incident helped raise the consciousness of Americans about the need for recycling, and slowly, recycling caught on as the most environmentally friendly way to reduce the expanding stream of human garbage and the pollution it causes.

There was a shortage of landfill space in the 1980s, which caused the Mobro garbage barge to travel down the coast of North and South America for 155 days looking for a place to dump its 3,000 tons of waste.

There was a shortage of landfill space in the 1980s, which caused the Mobro garbage barge to travel down the coast of North and South America for 155 days looking for a place to dump its 3,000 tons of waste.

Garbage Barge Mobro 4000

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