A Brief History of Garbage Cans

A Brief History of Garbage Cans

As long as there’s been humans on Earth, there’s been garbage. Over time, various methods have been employed to deal with the mess we leave behind each day.

Garbage collection became an official system in England 1875, and the first garbage receptacle

was created, which was used to store ash form burned waste. It was emptied on a weekly basis, and residents were charged even if the bin was empty. The United States caught up 10 years later, with a comprehensive waste management system in New York City. Once incinerating garbage became a regular practice in the U.S. around 1914, horse-drawn carts used for garbage transport were replaced with motor carts.

For the next few decades, inventions from plastic to disposable razors began to increase at a breakneck pace, and dime stores became the norm. By 1968, about one-third of America started sorting their garbage, marking the need for more garbage bins, and recycling became a word recognized in the mainstream. Part population growth and part boom of a consumerist society, the amount of garbage that Americans consumed skyrocketed. Garbage cans became so common that home magazines start publishing articles on how to conceal them or make them part of your home d├ęcor. By the 1980s, people started painting and decorating them. There were garbage cans in the shape of dolphins on the coast, and bear-proof garbage bins in the forest.

The classic garbage can also starts to change its appearance in the 1980s as municipal pick-up companies start using trucks that automatically pick up trash bins with their arms. Since 1995, public trash cans in France were replaced with clear hanging bags after terrorist bombings killed 25 people. Meanwhile, the recycle bin industry has taken a life of its own as living green has increased in popularity in the public consciousness. Today, we have three main kinds of trash receptacles: trash cans, dumpsters and trash bins on wheels.

As humans continue to evolve, so will our innovation in dealing with the most basic byproduct of our existence — our garbage. Who knows? Maybe one day drones will be swooping down to collect our trash. Only time will tell.