The ancient Romans are credited with many of our modern-day amenities including indoor heating, sewer systems, urban planning, and concrete. New evidence shows that they were even pioneers of recycling.
A team of researchers at Pompeii discovered piles of trash outside the city walls. What initially looked like junk turned out to mirror the construction materials of many structures inside the city. The piles were filled with plaster and ceramic to be resold for new building projects. This evidence shows us that the Romans were some of the world’s earliest recyclers.
“We found that part of the city was built out of trash,” said Allison Emmerson, a member of the University of Cincinnati’s excavation team. These piles were essentially a modern-day equivalent of a recycling center and were being used to build new homes, roads, and walls.
This early recycling process is evidence that no society wants to live surrounded by trash. Their ingenious repurposing serves as an example for our modern world. The average American generates 4.51 pounds of garbage per day, if we don’t reduce and reuse, we will be buried by a mess of our own creation.
The most effective waste management systems value commodification in addition to the removal of waste. If the ancient Romans could recycle, so can we.