Some recycled goods or projects are just plain weird! While others are simply wonderful. As They say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
All recycling is good, don’t get me wrong! Whatever we can do to promote keeping junk and garbage out of our overloaded landfills is worth it.
Let’s Start With Weird
Diesel from Diapers? There are a couple of companies, one in Canada and one in Japan, that have developed two different processes to create fuel from dirty diapers. Yes, this is the ultimate poop power. Apparently, the dirty diapers, baby and adult, are collected and treated. The Canadian process, called pyrolysis, chemically breaks down organic materials, literally cracking their molecules by heating them up in an oxygen-starved chamber. The process doesn’t involve combustion and emissions are strictly controlled. Three materials are produced; a synthetic methane-like gas, a diesel-like oil and carbon-rich char. Japan’s solution is different. Dirty diapers are deposited into an SFD machine that “pulverizes, desiccates, and sterilizes them, reducing the trash to less than one-third of the weight and bulk of its original size.” This produces a fuel of a different type: a bacteria free, odorless, pellet that can be used in biomass boilers or heating systems.
Yet other companies actually recycle the sterilized materials into plastic wood, plastic roofing tiles, absorbent materials and green energy. Watch where you step!
More Poop Uses
Dung from herbivores has long been used to make paper. Elephant and rhino dung paper is a popular tourist item in South Africa. But another use, not often seen by tourists, is the use of dung as floor polish. Although not used extensively these days, in the past this was the polish of choice. Fresh, moist cow dung, yes, those gooshy cow flops were smeared by hand onto the surface and as it dried, polished to a high shine. When dry, the dung has no odor at all.
In Wales, where there are almost as many sheep as in New Zealand, an enterprising group is making scented Sheep Poo Paper. You can even buy a scented hanger for your car – or your closet.
To Die For
Biodegradable coffins. The ultimate last minute greening of your last resting place. The Ecopod is a handcrafted coffin, made from recycled newspapers and finished with “100 percent mulberry pulp.” You can go to rest in your pod painted whatever color you would like, with or without a silkscreened motif. Or if you are into bling, it can be painted gold. Suitable for cremation or burial.
Who would have thought used dentures would have any recycle value? With almost 4 million sets manufactured around the world, each set contains about $25 worth of precious metals, including gold and silver. The Japan Denture Recycling Association (JDRA) has launched a denture-recycling program and the proceeds are donated to UNICEF and other organizations. To date, it has raised more than $250,000 for UNICEF and other organizations.
Although this isn’t really weird or gross, it’s a creative way to recycle old Mac computers. Called the Macquarium, the fish tank is housed in the case of an old computer. The now-defunct i-Mac in its colorful, translucent case is especially eye-catching.
And Now the Wonderful
Where to start? There are so many ways to recycle basic stuff. People are wonderfully creative.
Clothing seems like a good start. The basic clothes swap, or “Naked Lady Party,” brings friends together to swap clothes they are tired of, but in good nick. Bring five pieces (or whatever number everyone agrees on), take away the same number. New wardrobe, new look and clothing gets a new lease on life. Whatever is left can go to the local thrift store, Goodwill or Salvation Army.
You might have seen bags and purses made from fused plastic. But some people are taking this plastic recycling idea further and creating complete outfits. The Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County, a suburb of Chicago hosts a fashion show each year called The Flashy Trashion Show where designers, both adults and children, create whole outfits from trash. The fashion show idea is beginning to catch on in other parts of the country.
If you’re not into making complete outfits, how about making plarn, yarn made from strips of recycled plastic bags. Creative aficionados make bags, hats, mats and all kinds of articles from this. Or perhaps jewelry making is more your style. Paper beads use recycled newspaper rolled into balls, dried, painted and strung on – you could use recycled fishing line – string.
For you ladies. Ever buy a bra that you thought was perfect until you got it home? Then thought, “OMG, what was I thinking?” Or perhaps you lost weight and have some perfectly good bras that you will never wear again. Bra Recyclers to the rescue. This company buys and sells recycled bras and distributes them around the world. They also work through Ambassadors to provide deserving women with the necessary support.
Music from trash? Definitely
Bash the Trash is a group founded by John Bertles and Carina Piaggio, based in New York. This group takes recycled and reused materials, then builds and performs on instruments made from it. They perform in schools where each interactive performance introduces the audience to a journey in sound, science and music, “how instruments are made, why they work, and how to make your own. And of course we highlight environmental issues and how each of us can help fight global warming.”
Also performing on “invented instruments,” Electric Junkyard Gamelan uses “innovative instruments such as the Rubarp and Big Barp (electric rubber band harps), the Sitello (an electric cello/sitar combo), the Terraphone (copper pipe horn), the Clayrimba (a three octave tuned clay pot “marimba”) and an arsenal of percussion instruments fashioned from old farm equipment, turntable platters, saw blades, and truck springs.”
The ultimate recycled art is the traveling army of Trash People by H. A. Schult. The Trash People are made from crushed cans, electronic waste and other rubbish and are his critical commentary on constant human consumption. He has been travelling around the world with his collection of trash people since 1996. They are now installed on the ice at Longyerarbyen, Norway.
This project is not for the faint of heart. Consider a Christmas tree made entirely of recycled materials – including 22,500 plastic bags – and an angel made from cling wrap and milk bottles. The Eden Project in Cornwall has put a 21st Century spin on the tradition. This is the ultimate ever-Green tree.
When you look at the Scrap House that was built in San Francisco, it’s hard to believe that it was created from garbage straight from the waste stream. In 2005, a team of architects, builders, structural engineers and scrap artists came together and built a house entirely out of garbage. It was built as an experimental house and after its short life on Civic Center Plaza, it was disassembled and returned to the recycling center and various salvage yards.
This is under the art heading because composting is an art. What better and more complete way is there to take discards (food and garden waste) and have a complete natural product returned, that in its turn replenishes the soil to produce more food and garden?
As always, the creative artists continue to invent new ways to present beauty in our world. In some parts of the world, artist use recycled stuff out of necessity. In South Africa, arts and crafts created from recycled copper wire and beads abound. In addition, unique, fanciful objects are created from recycled plastic bags.
This comes under Wonderful because it is something just about everyone uses at some time or other. In the process of manufacturing it, since 1999, the company claims to have used more than 24,000,000,000 recycled plastic bottles. What do they make? Carpets. Mohawk Flooring was recently placed in Newsweek’s top 500 “greenest” companies list.
The crew at Ecology Global Network hopes that these recycling ideas have sparked some creative thoughts in our readers. We’d love to hear about any weird and wonderful ways you’ve seen.