Before plastic, rubber filled American homes
Rubber is still ubiquitous. But in its heyday, it was being molded into everything from gloves to toys.
Before our lives were inundated with things made of plastic, rubber was America's go-to manufacturing material. The 1940s saw a boom in rubber production before cheaper, versatile plastic replaced it in the next decade. Like plastic, synthetic rubber is bad for the environment. The production process releases soot into the atmosphere, and the U.S. alone discards millions of tires each year. But also like plastic, rubber used to be mass-produced with a fervor.
A 1940 National Geographic article written by J.R. Hildebrand on the then-burgeoning rubber industry notes that B. F. Goodrich, now a tire manufacturer, once led the way in all things rubber, making tens of thousands of products.
It's not easy to convey the breadth of products that were once