Before curbside waste collection became the norm, Americans were more resourceful with items that now would end up in landfills.
Reusing household items used to be commonplace in the 1800s, far before blue recycling bins arrived at the curb of American homes. People weren't taught to separate garbage; they instinctively did.
Shirts became new items once they became worn. Fabrics were turned into quilts or rugs. The ragman came to purchase cloth to repurpose into paper. This practice was commonplace until the 1920s when Americans largely stopped reusing items.
It wasn't until the 1960s that recycling was tied to the environment, and by the 1970s, landfills were running out of space. Curbside recycling programs were then introduced to solve the emerging problem.
Learn more about the history of recycling in the original article.