Living

British scientists reveal that ancient Romans recycled

KENNEWICK — Another calendar, another year begins.

As we mark time, has anyone ever consider how long the idea of recycling has been around?

A recent article in Parade Magazine suggests it wasn't just a 1960's, be-good-to-Mother Earth thing!

Would it surprise you to find out the idea of reusing items goes back a lot further? I mean, a great deal further? Did the Romans recycle?

A story telling of some British archaeologists from the University of Sheffield who were studying glass vessels from the Roman era tells ofremolding and reuse. This wasn't just confined to drinking-type glass. Those included in the study were uncolored and colored glass vessels, bowls, jugs and plates.

Technically, you decolorize glass by adding certain minerals to it. For example, if you put in more amounts of manganese, then the product coming out of the furnace is going to have little or no color.

They looked at 128 items for 19 sites in Britain. They identified three distinct sources of raw materials (manganese, possibly) that went into the glass-making process. Theories abound about where the Romans first got theknowledge for producing glass, but the British think there were only three siteswhere it was made. Analyzing the 128 samples returned results showing that69 of the pieces showed signs of being composites of those three distinct, regional elements.

Admitttedly, the need to make pieces out of other pieces was probably more to do with loss of trade, scarcity of available glass during the end of their rule, being cut off from supplies of sand as the empire was reduced insize, then an overall need to protect the environment, but we're talkingrecycling technology here. Someone got the idea that you could make new out of old without consuming 100 percent new materials and they did it!

Start recycling this year. Start a "new" resolution for yourself that comes from a "really old" idea!

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