It seems like garbage removal has been around forever. If you grew up in the 1960s or later you may have never visited a landfill or a dump. Your interaction with garbage removal might only be taking your garbage out to the garbage can or dumpster, knowing it will disappear in a few days. But garbage removal is relatively recent invention. 

The concept of garbage removal goes back into the B.C.E.’s The first known garbage removal was practiced by some Greek Communities. But organized garbage removal is largely a late 19th and early 20th century invention. Before the Industrial Revolution and before the urbanization of both America and Europe trash was either burned, or buried in a backyard. Occasionally trash was simple thrown into the street or discarded in an alley. 

In the mid-1800s trash and garbage in streets and alleyways became a genuine health problem. Disease spread quickly from unburied garbage. Also the streets and alleyways were simply dirty and unpleasant to look at and walk on. The first organized garbage removal began in New York City in the late 1800s. Garbage removal as a service started in the cities.

Organized garbage removal did not reach many parts of America until the Great Depression. Even then many parts of the rural United States simply burned or buried their trash. Garbage removal would not reach these parts of America until the 1950s and 1960s when rural American began to transform into suburban American.

So garbage removal is largely a 20th Century invention that made our lives healthier and cleaner.

March 15, 2013