Given its symbiotic relationship with commerce, it should be no surprise that the progenitor of the mass-produced cardboard box, a Scottish émigré named Robert Gair, was himself a manufacturer.
Gair arrived in the United States in the mid-19th century, fought in the Civil War on the side of the Union and in 1864 opened his first paper-bag-printing factory in New York. He probably would have forever remained a bag man had one of his machines not malfunctioned in such a way that the sacks came off the line marred by a series of horizontal slices. Eureka! If a machine could be inadvertently programmed to slice open a paper bag, Gair reasoned, it could be purposefully programmed to slice and pre crease stacks of paper. “Shortly after this,” in 1870, The Times later noted, “he made the first folding boxes, and the idea was an instant success.”
Today, the online economy is burying us in it.
Entire forests and enormous factories running 24/7 can barely keep up with demand. This is how the cardboard economy works.
But where does all that cardboard come from?
If you’ve been wondering, and wonder you should, where all that cardboard comes from before it was the cardboard on your doorstep – it was course brown paper, and before that it was paper, and before that it was a river of hot pulp, and before that, it was a tree.
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