Throwaway is a project that unearths the hidden history of waste in Europe while simultaneously highlighting its significance as a marker of social change. It displays the profound changes in how we have dealt with rubbish in bygone years, and the way we think, or don’t think about waste. By looking at the past, it makes current criticisms and the resounding calls for change relevant and meaningful.
In addition to this website, the Throwaway project includes an exhibition in Brussels, a publication and a programme of activities.
Photograph © Mandy Barker
The exhibition Throwaway - the history of a modern crisis taking place in Brussels between 18 February 2023 and 14 January 2024 explores the issue of waste in Europe from a historical perspective, through four sections: Did you say rubbish?, From resource to refuse (1800-1945), Throwaway Europe (1945-today), Living with(out) rubbish. Starting with the industrial revolution, it brings us on a journey through wartime scarcity, the surge in post-war consumerism, and finishes with today’s insurmountable waste crisis.
This publication gives the floor to those behind the project: from curators and museum educators to the exhibition’s designers, as well as true local experts on rubbish. Academics outline how they view waste through the lenses of history, archaeology, sociology, anthropology and art.
The printed version of this book is available for purchase from the museum e-shop.
Digital version of this book is available for free here: Download PDF
Article Sweeping stories: conversations about rubbish with people on the ground available in English here: Download PDF
© German Environment Agency: Collection „Erhard”. Dessau-Roßlau: Specialized Library for Environmental Information.