Media attention on the impact individuals have on the environment has never been as focussed as it is as present. As terms such as 'carbon footprint' and 'climate change' become ever part of our lives, recycling, too, is receiving much attention in the press.
A forthcoming paper in Historical Research argues that recycling can only ever succeed if a sense of crisis is linked to it. Looking at the historical context of disposal, from the 1800's to the modern day, this research argues that a sense of patriotism and urgency are inherent to increased refuse efforts and that, without these, recycling faces too many challenges, not least because it is often far from profitable on its own account.
The study looks in-depth at the increased recycling efforts which surrounded the two World Wars, and the lulls which came after the conflict had ended, and concludes that the desire "to pursue more affluent styles of living" after 1945 "dealt a permanent blow to the prospect of establishing recycling on a more permanent basis."