Come a Long Way in Waste
so caught up in the future of our industry, we tend to forget
that the topic of waste management has concerned mankind for
thousands of years. It is possible that even prehistoric man
took measures to separate waste disposal from daily life.
the Ancients Worried About Waste and Its Disposal
the Pharoahs decided to build the Pyramids, they established
villages to house the workers. Because these projects took
years to complete, generations were expected to live and die
within the walls of these villages.
aspect of the village was waste disposal. Archaeologists are
able to tell us that the waste area was generally located
to the southwest of the village, where an incline would carry
the waste downhill and away from the village.
Rome of Christ's day, the government built tunnels to drain
the marshes around the city and carry away the waste into
the Tiber River. Of course, the pollution of the river was
always a concern after that.
Dark Ages - Dark and Smelly
where narrow streets and overpopulation made life suffocating,
to say the least, the town council tried a number of ways
to manage waste. They required residents to clean the street
in front of their buildings and charged fines for failure
to do so.
might be considered the first garbage vehicles, the council
hired "rakers" to gather whatever garbage remained
and cart it to dung boats located on the Thames River. No
doubt, some of the dung found its way into the river, as well.
the major reforms of the reign of King Edward I(1271-1307)
was the installation of pipes to carry off human waste.
during the Renaissance was the model of everything modern,
from government to art. The town council established a bureau
of public sanitation in 1385 to provide clean drinking water
and prevent swamps. And this was before we knew that the presence
of swamps contributed to disease outbreaks.
also had the first known municipal commission of public health,
responsible for testing food and drugs offered for public
Did Not Originate in the 20th Century
air pollution caused by the burning of coal was such a problem
in London that the King requested John Evelyn to develop a
plan for dissipating the cloud which hung over the city.
plan was defeated by Parliament, because the legislative body
consisted of rich industrialists who were not interested in
changing their fuel habits. Thirteen years later, physician
Sir Thomas Browne warned that inhaling this smoke was sure
to cause longterm health problems for London's citizens.
Slow But Steady
mid-eighteenth century, most homes in London had running water,
and every ward(section) of the city had a scavenger to organize
the collection of waste. While some localities enjoyed the
luxury of sewers, London did not have a general sewage system
Civil War - Return to the Dark Ages of Waste Management
the Civil War in America, the Union army had a whole list
of health requirements, including the careful placement and
use of latrines and garbage pits with daily applications of
earth and chloride of lime.
and many of the officers, simply ignored the list. This meant
that garbage often rotted where it fell, leading to the inevitable
smells and disease.
Than Ever...Or Are We?
experts predict that one day every molecule of waste we generate
will be recycled into a different, useful product. While scientific
advancements offer us this window into a new reality, we still
must deal with waste management, day in and day our, year
in and year out.