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Cash For Your Trash

Scrap Recycling in America

Carl A. Zimring

Publication Year: 2005

In Cash for Your Trash, Carl A. Zimring provides a fascinating history of scrap recycling, from colonial times to the present. Integrating findings from archival, industrial, and demographic records, and moving beyond the environmental developments that have shaped modern recycling enterprises, Zimring offers a unique cultural and economic portrait of the private businesses that made large-scale recycling possible.

Published by: Rutgers University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xi

I am fortunate to have had the support of several people in the seven years I have worked on this project. At Rutgers University Press, Audra Wolfe was an able and helpful editor who provided excellent suggestions. Also at the Press, Marilyn Campbell, Adi Hovav, and two anonymous reviewers provided logistical help and advice that clarified my ...

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pp. 1-11

Paul Revere recycled. Readers may be surprised that one of the heroes of the War of Independence participated in an activity we associate with the late twentieth century. Revere did not call what he did “recycling”—that term first was used regularly by the petroleum industry in the 1920s—but he saved old metal objects for reuse, just as we save cans and bottles today.1 ...

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1. Rags and Old Iron

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pp. 12-36

Francis Bannerman III was angry. He had received in September 1872 what he perceived to be very poor quality goods from a Glasgow-based scrap trader named Peter Dixon. Bannerman was a Brooklyn-based businessman who bought and sold a wide range of materials ranging from old iron, lead, and copper to rope, waste paper, and war memorabilia. His complaint to Dixon ...

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2. New American Enterprises

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pp. 37-58

As the United States celebrated its centennial in 1876, Sigmund Dringer must have reflected upon his remarkable fortune in his new country. Dringer was an Austrian Jew who immigrated to New Jersey at the age of thirty. In the ten years after he entered the country, he rose from driving a junk wagon for a Newark junkman named Max Boehm for ten dollars a week to establishing ...

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3. Nuisance or Necessity?

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pp. 59-80

Abe and Sam Levinson were successes. Second generation Jewish immigrants living in Pittsburgh, the two brothers ran a profitable scrap metal yard and rag shop in the city’s Hill District, close to downtown. Their father, James Levinson, had founded the business on Pride Street, starting with a horse and wagon. His grandson Aaron remembers the yard had “all the junk that ...

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4. All Us Cats Must Surely Do Our Bit

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pp. 81-101

In September 1942, the Brooklyn Dodgers offered free admission to fans who brought ten pounds of scrap metal to Ebbets Field. In one day, sixty-five tons of mattress springs, bed frames, pots, pans, and assorted scrap metal were deposited outside the park by grinning fans lined up around the block to get into the game.1 Almost a year later, Girl Scouts and other youth ...

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5. Size Matters

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pp. 102-130

A festive mood was in the air in Michigan on 14 July 1966. On this day, Carl S. Albon, president of the Ogden Corporation subsidiary Luria Brothers, and Ben D. Mills, vice president of purchasing for the Ford Motor Company, led a group of men from both firms in turning over the first spadeful of earth at the two companies’ joint venture in Taylor Township in suburban Detroit. ...

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6. It’s Not Easy Being Green

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pp. 131-162

To say that Michael Bloomberg entered his term as mayor of New York City at a difficult time would be an understatement. Elected shortly after the attacks on the World Trade Center, Bloomberg assumed his duties in the wake of tragedy and severe budget shortfalls. He attempted to find savings wherever he could in his first few weeks in office. Bloomberg’s administration ...

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pp. 163-170

If the developments of the past two centuries provide any continuity with the future, Americans’ conflicting notions of what waste is will continue to foster tensions in how we use and reuse materials. Americans want to consume with no limit and to have clean homes and bodies. Americans also desire clean air, water, and landscapes. ...


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pp. 171-194


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pp. 195-204


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pp. 205-220

About the Author

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E-ISBN-13: 9780813537917
E-ISBN-10: 0813537916
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813536866
Print-ISBN-10: 0813536863

Page Count: 240
Illustrations: 6 photographs
Publication Year: 2005