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Mar 12, 2018

A Brief History of Garbage

What did cavemen do with their garbage? That’s probably not a question you ask yourself too often. But what people do with their trash is a Number One Priority here at 123JUNK and it’s always on the tops of our minds.

So we had to ponder—where would the world be today if it weren’t for garbage men and junk haulers?

Well, first off, the world would probably be disgusting. Mounds of trash would be everywhere. And it would smell bad. Luckily, we’re here to call so this doesn’t happen.

Way back when, people didn’t own much, and what they did own, they kept for a long while, repurposing items as they became older. Anything unusable, they commonly burned or buried. These trash piles are treasure troves for archaeologists!

As cities grew and populations expanded, there were more people making trash and less land available. So it started to build up. This brought on vermin and disease. Remember the Black Plague of the 1300s? More than 25 million people died of this disease within five years. The pandemic urged sanitation changes, and resulted in the introduction in London of the first garbagemen. Their job? The weekly raking up of trash into carts for disposal outside the city limits.

In the later 1300s, the British Parliament stepped in and decided to implement regulations. First, they mandated that people must keep their front lawns clean. Second, they banned the dumping of waste into public waterways and ditches. In 1407, they passed a law stating that all waste must be kept indoors until the garbagemen arrived. So it piled up.

With the onset of the Industrial Revolution in the 1700s, the concept of trash bins became popular in Britain to deter scavengers. People were charged for them whether they used them or not. Britain then created giant “destructor” plants to burn trash and generate electricity from the steam.

The History of Garbage in America

Here in the United States, Benjamin Franklin started up a street cleaning service in 1757, and encouraged people to dig pits to bury their waste.

In the mid-1800s, residents of Washington, D.C. were freely dumping their garbage and slop into the streets where rats, cockroaches and other unpleasants created infestations—even in the White House. In 1894, residents of Alexandria, Virginia were so disgusted by the sight and smell of trash barges on the Potomac River coming from Washington, D.C. that they began sinking them upriver. In 1885, New York City developed the first system for garbage management.

Come the early 1900s, people were still dumping trash everywhere, filling up the waterways and byways, despite the installation of incinerators. It wasn’t until 1934 that the Supreme Court banned people from dumping municipal waste into the oceans, and by 1945, sanitary landfills were in full use. The very first sanitary landfill opened in Fresno, California in 1937 using trenching, compacting and the daily covering of waste with soil. Burning of waste was prohibited in most areas by the Clean Air Act of the 1950s.

Modern Trash Hauling

In 1965, the Solid Waste Disposal Act was established, and once President Nixon created the Environmental Protection Act in 1970, recycling and environmental concerns came to the forefront.

1991 marked the EPA standards for landfill groundwater protection, and the beginning of hazardous waste programs.

And probably the most significant date—at least in our lives—was the founding of 123JUNK in 2008. We’re celebrating 10 years!

In a report by the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, every American produces 16.5 pounds of trash per day. And with more than 315 million people, that is more than 5 billion pounds of trash every day that needs to go somewhere. Two of the world’s largest landfills are right here in the United States: in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, with each processing more than 10,500 pound of trash daily!

Trash Hauling is Our Life at 123JUNK

We hope you enjoyed this brief journey through the history of trash. When you need your own junk and trash hauling, please think of 123JUNK. Your trash creates our history. Contact us today to schedule a pickup.

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