Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle: Really?

by Curt Kovener

Reusing reclaimable materials makes good financial sense and keeps landfills from becoming ski resorts. Here is some interesting tidbits of how others have reused and repurposed recycleables
•It takes three months for a recycled aluminum can to make its way back onto the shelf in reincarnated form.
•In 2002 researchers from Rutgers University built a 42-foot-long bridge over a river using plastic beams made from polystyrene cups and polyethylene milk jugs.
• During World War I, enough metal was salvaged from women’s corset stays to build two warships.
•In China, more than 1 million unsold copies of British singer-songwriter Robbie Williams’s latest CD were be used to resurface roads. (I’ve never heard of him either.)
•In Asia, an enterprising dental technician established the Japan Denture Recycle Association in 2006 to cash in on the precious metals in discarded choppers.
•Each year Americans junk more than 80 million dollars’ worth of copper, gold, silver, palladium, and platinum in the form of retired cell phones.
•An Australian nut orchard converts the shells of vintage Macintosh computers into houses for pest-eating birds.
•Beginning in ancient times, tanners collected human urine to use in turning animal skins into leather. In the Middle Ages, urine was also used to make saltpeter, an essential component of gunpowder.
•Cities get recycled too: Masonry from Roman settlements made a handy source of stone for medieval church builders.
• In 1821 Turkish soldiers surrounded Greek forces holed up in the Parthenon and started stripping lead from temple columns to make bullets. The horrified Greeks promptly sent the enemy a fresh supply of ammunition to discourage further recycling.
• There are now sheep-poo air fresheners. Sterilized sheep droppings are turned into packets stuffed with grass- or daffodil-scented material. ( I guess it doesn’t smell b-a-a-a-d.)
• Ecopods, a British company, sells stylish coffins made from hardened recycled paper, available in a range of colors including indigo and silver.