There is no doubt about it. We are a society dependent on symbols to operate in daily life. It’s not just in this country. There are universal signs for all kinds of things, like bathrooms, CPR and first aid, as well as for things like eat or drink. It only makes sense that something as important as recycling would have its own symbol as well.
It’s unlikely that you would be able to find a person out there that wouldn’t recognize the recycling logo for paper. It is as famous at this point as the American flag. Those three arrows have an interesting history that few people ever take the time to learn about. Take a look at the story behind the recycling logo for paper. Its past is as colorful as the history of recycling itself.
The first recycling center in the U.S. came about in the 1960’s. Very few people were even interested in or understood what the whole movement was about. The recycling logo for paper had its first beginning shortly after the introduction of the first recycling center on the first official Earth Day back in 1970. By this point in history, there was a greater awareness among the general population about the need for smarter consumerism and more energy and resource conservation. A logo was needed that people could remember and relate to. It’s at this place that the Container Corporation of American became involved.
The Container Corporation of American already had a long established track record for recycling paper and other goods. In the best interest of the environment and to create greater awareness of the recycling movement it was decided that a contest would be held to find the best recycling logo for paper. The contest was nationwide and intended to gain the attention of the country’s best artists.
As history shows us, over 500 students, artists, and environmental activists entered the contest. The symbol we have come to associate with all things natural, recyclable, and healthy was submitted by a 23 year old student at the University of California. Gary Dean Anderson was awarded $2500 dollars in tuition money for his efforts.
Another little known fact about the recycling logo for paper is that Mr. Anderson drew his inspiration from the famous Mobius strip by the artist M.C. Escher. The strip is a continuous loop with only one edge and has only one side. It’s easy to see why this design would have played a part in the creation of the recycling symbol. The actions of recycling and reusing are a continuous pattern. The classic symbol for recycling can be found on recycled products, bins, and a host of other items associated with the recycling movement.