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Cardboard – Slightly More Interesting Than You’d Think

Cardboard is probably the biggest source of business waste in the world.  It is used in the transportation of 90% of products in the US, accounts for 20% of all municipal waste, and, of course, it should be recycled unless oily, greasy, wet or laminated with polyethylene. Occasionally people get inspired to do other things with cardboard as well.

When man wants to soar with the birds, the best he can do under his own steam is reach for a wing suit and glide at speed. But when a man in a wing suit needs to career back down to earth, his landing material of choice is cardboard. On the 23rd of May, British lunatic Gary Connery piled out of a helicopter at 2,400 feet, his only nod to safety some scraps of material stretched between his limbs to act as an ersatz patagium… and his trusty cardboard runway. Gary reached his optimal speed of 80 miles an hour and swept into the 18,600 boxes as if his life depended on it, in the process establishing some sort of world record. Precisely as planned, the boxes cushioned his fall and prevented him suffering serious injury, thus thwarting nature’s will. It wasn’t long before news of the cardboard’s achievement had circled the planet.

Jacksons recordGreat Beyond / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Of course, cardboard doesn’t just help set records, it also makes them. Quite literally! In the early days of the phonograph, enterprising merchantmen hypothesised that if you coated cardboard with a thin layer of plastic, it would make an entirely unacceptable alternative to vinyl records. The plan was deemed good, and soon thousands of people were introduced to the aural equivalent of popping a popadom on the record player. Cardboard records were even given away with cereal packets, which are also made of cardboard (ha, got you! In fact they’re made of paperboard). Pop combos such as the Jackson 5 managed to give away their music by this method. Some say that this does not show cardboard in a good light, but cardboard does not care.

Well, that’s enough cardboard amusement for now.

Emma George has been researching cardboard on behalf of

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