They say we learn a lot from our elders, but quite how far back can we go exactly…?
With so much emphasis on recycling in the UK over the past few years, recent discoveries have brought to light how recycling has been around much longer than we thought, in fact a whole 1.3 million years when our predecessors were recycling away in the depths of their caves.
According to archaeologists, our ancestors the Neanderthals, amongst other species learned to recycle objects they used in their normal day to day lives. Archaeologist Barkai from Tel Aviv University explains how they would collect broken or discarded tools made from bone and flint to create new equipment, such as utensils they can use for various things, just the same as we recycle household waste to use again in the form of other things.
So, you might be thinking; why exactly did the Neanderthals choose to recycle? Well, with as much as 10% of the tools found in their caves being made from recycled materials, this proves it was not just a one off thing, but rather they actually introduced recycling into their lives and relied on it heavily for their survival. They adopted recycling as part of their lifestyle in order to preserve their energy and resources so they wouldn’t have to go out looking for fresh material every time – basic survival instincts. Examples of the type of resources they reused include stone hand-axes that would be reused to make smaller utensils such as blades and scrapers, even the shards of flint flakes created during the process would sometimes be recycled ensuring nothing went to waste.
The obvious difference between how we both recycle is that our predecessors recycled subconsciously, as a matter of basic instinct to provide for their families and continue their race. Researches have supported this with claims that early appearance of recycling highlights a basic survival strategy. Maybe one day we’ll do the same, not so much for the survival of our race, but recycling could become a subconscious action in order to help the economy function as efficiently as possible.
So, could it be said that our deceased Neanderthal relatives should take the credit for the recycling systems that we have in our lives today? As they did invent the concept of recycling after all, didn’t they?