The History of Trash
The History of Trash, produced by IFAGE-Filmproduktion and commissioned by ZDF’s Terra X, reveals many astonishing stories beginning with the early Stone Age. Waste has existed since humans appeared on the scene. Once we started to walk upright, our hands were suddenly free to make tools, but also to "drop" or deliberately throw things away. Garbage.
At the start of human history, waste disposal was still very minimal: the things we produced with such effort were too valuable to simply throw away. From waste stone to broken bone needles – we reused things as much as possible, as archaeological findings have revealed. Nevertheless, today, archaeologists in particular are interested in the things we have thrown away. For example, the relics left behind by the Danish Ertebølle culture, whose members made their homes on huge mountains of mussel shells, show that mankind's relationship to garbage was initially quite informal.
With the onset of urban living waste and faeces became a problem. The film reveals the logistical challenges that were faced in Roman times and the Middle Ages and how London's sewers, built between 1859 and 1865, are still considered a great feat of urban infrastructure development today.
Over the centuries, the composition of the rubbish changed, sometimes dramatically. This is because every human invention created a new type of garbage. Ceramics proved to be the first stubborn type of garbage, to which an area in Rome still bears witness today with fragments of an estimated 50 million amphorae, the first mass-produced "disposable packaging" in history. However, this waste was still harmless to the environment. This is no longer true for modern packaging. Today, the world is faced with a mountain of plastic that threatens the oceans in particular.
Delving into the past shows that humanity may be condemned to "littering", but that we have also repeatedly found strategies to cope with the problem.