They say you shouldn’t reinvent the wheel, but no one said you couldn’t add them to things to make them better!
Take the modern plastic ‘Wheelie Bin’ for example. It’s a bin. With wheels attached to it. Simple enough, right? Yet this innovative garbage disposal tool has a long and proud history that may surprise you.
After all, the daily grind of collecting and getting rid of rubbish has been a challenge from the first day man ditched the open plains and went to live in a cave – so anything to make it easier has always been welcomed.
The First Bins
There is widespread archaeological evidence showing that ancient humans collected and disposed of their trash in a highly organised manner, with digs in the Himalayas even turning up signs that people used wheeled carts to haul big animal bones around in.
When humans starting clumping together in larger and more sophisticated settlements, villages to towns and then cities, the challenge to deal with all the waste being generated was tackled again on a larger and larger scale.
The Ancient Romans established the very first municipal dump around 400 BC, and they even invented the first garbage men, who hurled refuse from the streets into a horse drawn wagon. There’s even evidence from digs at Pompeii of Romans using a crude form of wheelie bin to haul muck away with.
More Rubbish, Bigger Solutions
In modern times, as more and more people moved to live in cities and were pressed together cheek to jowl, the need for organised garbage disposal became crucial. In the cities and towns of Europe’s Middle Ages, people often preferred to drink beer rather than water from the rivers, there was so much garbage polluting them.
Something had to be done about this smelly and unsightly part of life, so local authorities began collecting rubbish on a grand scale and getting rid of it – and demanding that everyone get in on the act too. However, as the years wore on, the invention of disposable items like tin cans, razor blades and food packaging made the piles of garbage get bigger and bigger.
Enter the Wheelie Bin
In modern times, authorities began distributing waste bins to households and organising regular, professional disposal services. The only snag was that the early bins were often bulky and difficult to carry to the street for pick up. Even the invention of a lightweight tin bin with handles still caused problems, and probably a few sore backs!
That was until some bright spark thought, “why not just put some wheels on it?” The modern plastic wheelie bin with a flip top lid emerged in Britain in the early 1960s and quickly made its mark across the world as the refuse receptacle of choice.
People no longer had to break their backs hauling big boxes to the street side, and garbage workers didn’t have to have the physiques of Olympic weightlifters to get the rubbish into their trucks.
This simple invention, harking back to the very first days of rubbish collection, made a big comeback and is now a staple part of household cleanliness.