For most of history, disparate parts of the world were at best tenuously connected by shipping and trade. With the introduction of a more standardized method of transporting goods, however, true globalization could finally take root.
If you’re plugged into the sustainable lifestyle scene, you’ve doubtlessly encountered any one of the inventive uses for repurposed shipping containers. The variety of functions these cumbersome metal boxes have been appropriated for is impressive to say the least -- from housing to shopping centers to “learning laboratories” in developing regions, it seems that the possibilities for their reuse are endless.
Shipping containers are trending in the sustainability industry for good reason: while the steel containers have a lifespan on the shipping circuit of about 10 to 15 years, they have an “infinite lifespan” when they remain stationary and are properly maintained. There are countless decommissioned containers sitting in ports just waiting to be put to new uses -- and innovative people all around the world have been doing just that.
While today, much of our focus is on their secondary uses, you might be surprised to learn that shipping containers were actually one of the most important innovations of the 20th century and a major driver for global development. Let’s take a look at how exactly the shipping container changed the world.