Recycling has come a long way!
On my way to writing a column about reminders, I stumbled onto some fascinating information about recycling. Did you know that recycling existed as far back as the caveman days? Now it certainly wasn’t as we know it today with green bins and special trucks to pick them up, but the general philosophy seems to have been in place hundreds of thousands of years ago according to a conference at Tel Aviv University in Israel.
Tel Aviv archaeologist, Ari Gopher reasoned that our prehistoric ancestors learned to recycle the objects they used in their daily lives for the same reasons we recycle today–to conserve energy and raw materials. If they reused flint for another purpose, they didn’t have to go to the quarry to get more. Evidence presented at the conference proposes that early hominids “would collect discarded or broken tools made of flint and bone to create new utensils.” While it’s been suggested that flint was repurposed as much as 1.3 million years ago, verified proof has the timeline several hundred thousand years later.
In 2017, Qesem cave was discovered near Tel Aviv dating back to between 200,000 and 420,000 years ago. This was quite a find for a few reasons. Scientists believe it to be the site of a school making it the oldest in history. And it appears to be where humans seem to have taught each other to make tools. No word yet on the price of tuition. Seriously though from what has been excavated, flint chips that appeared to have been reshaped into small blades were found among the artifacts. Of the many different kinds of tools unearthed, it was determined that one in ten had been recycled in some way. That means a 10% recycling rate which is better than the statistics for some modern communities.
Recycling has come a long way from the early beginnings of our ancestors. And the innovative ideas both in the U.S. and worldwide keep expanding the definition of recycle, repurpose and reuse. For example, in Turkey recycling stations give kibble food for stray animals in exchange for plastic bottles. Brazil has recently initiated a venture aimed to collect vegetable oil from homes and businesses, and process it into highly useful biodiesel fuel. Briquetting is a technique that transforms dust from workshops into bricks that burn better than wood on an open fire. Beneficial ideas indeed.
So maybe this column was about reminders after all…a reminder of how important it is to our future that we remember to recycle, repurpose and reuse today.
Originally published in the Orange County Register, Laguna Woods Globe edition, October 11, 2018