Who Invented the Rubber Bands? Are Rubber Bands Compostable?
Experts believe ancient civilizations in the regions of Mexico and Central America harvested latex from rubber trees. To make this material less brittle, they mixed it with juice from morning glory vines. This blend was easier to shape. It was also strong and waterproof. The Mayas, Olmecs, and Aztecs all used this rubber to make everyday items like shoes. They also turned it into balls for their sporting events.
Early European explorers to the Americas were intrigued by these creations. They’d never seen rubber before. Many of them took rubber goods from the Americas back to Europe. However, it would be many years before they learned to make usable rubber of their own.
Thomas Hancock made the first known rubber band in England in 1843. He did so by slicing a rubber bottle from the Americas into bands. Hancock’s invention wasn’t as stretchy or bouncy as today’s rubber bands. An American, Charles Goodyear, developed vulcanization in 1839. The process involves heating rubber and sulfur. This creates a more durable and usable form of the material.
On March 17, 1845, Stephen Perry of the rubber manufacturing company Messer’s Perry and Co, Rubber Manufacturers of London patented the fist rubber bands made of vulcanized rubber. Perry invented the rubber band to hold papers or envelopes together.
The contributions of all three inventors led to the rubber bands we use today. They’re still made in much the same way. They start as long rubber tubes, which are then heated and pressurized. Finally, the tube is cut into bands. After being washed and dried, the rubber bands are ready to sell in the market.
Rubber comes from the sap of a rubber tree, and the rule with composting is: If it once was alive, it can be composted. However, rubber takes a long time to break down or biodegrade, so it’s best to reuse rubber bands rather than toss them in the compost bin.