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Paperbag Machine

Source: Smithsonian

Margaret Knight was born in 1838 in Maine. When she was twelve years old, she visited a textile factory where she saw a worker who was injured while he was working at a machine. This inspired her to invent a machine which stopped when it malfunctioned. She later patented many inventions including a numbering machine and a rotary engine. However, she is most famous for the brown-paper bag which, unlike plastic bags, can stand upright without support. She patented it in 1871.

Plastic bags are much cheaper than paper bags, but they also pollute the environment. Supermarkets are now more often providing paper shopping bags because they are, of course, biodegradable.

Margaret Knight's original wooden machine is in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C.
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