Tuesday, June 19

Things that need reusing

In addition to recovering old usable tools from thrift stores (and learning to use them), here's my current re-using list. (I post these hoping that someone in need of a good, recycling-based business idea will run across them!)

  • Clothing fabric. Americans throw away an average of 68 lbs of clothing a year. We clothe entire nations in our cast-offs, while buying new ourselves. I was at an event where there were these wonderful, classic patterned quilts. The friend I was with asked about them, they're made in a factory from new materials. There's just something wrong about making a classic quilt from new materials instead of re-using the ones you have...
  • Newsprint - Okay, yes. It can be composted ground up into pulp. But what about another use before that? What about turning them into take out containers? (Maybe with a food-based wax coating...)
  • Greeting cards. I am experimenting with making wire-bound journals from these, preferably with recycled wire.
  • I need a plastic container swap. My local recycling company doesn't take #5 plastic and I have a small box of lidless containers and container-less lids. Seems like someone could collect 'em, match em up, run 'em through a sanitizing dishwasher and then sell them... as used of course.
  • This is more of a reducing thing than a reusing thing, but supporting local dairies that still deliver milk in re-usable glass containers. The market for plastic recycled milk jugs is incredibly, depressingly small.
  • On a similar tangent, EcoDragon, which used to make woven hemp shoes without glue, seems to have disappeared. If the plans were available somewhere, it seems like there are fibers that could be recycled into woven shoes.
  • CDs and cases. No ideas here, but they're ubiquitous and durable. Seems like something could be done with them... Hey... how about a purse lined with a t-shirt to keep things from falling out? They can be broken, what about cutting or drilling them?
Feel free to continue the brainstorm in comments. (Note: Brainstorming is tossing out ideas sparked by previous thoughts, not the evaluation of ideas. You can do that when you're writing your business plan. ;-) )


Wendy said...

CDs could make good drink coasters :). So, like all of those bars and restaurants that use those cardboard ones that are thrown out, could use recycled CDs instead.

In days of yore, old clothes that couldn't be otherwise salvaged were used to make braided rugs. Now, I guess those ones people can buy at Pier One are made using new materials rather than recycled materials.

Jon said...

How about hand cranked plastic shredder... that when your done you dump the shreds into sub-divided storage devices... so your orange laundry soap bottles don't get mixed in with the milk bottles. This would take up less room at recycle centers or land fills if your area doesn't recycle a specific type of plastic.

I also think there should be legislation should be drafted that provided some incentive for alternate planning... tax breaks for neighborhoods that have community gardens and composting sites, that are close to mass transit, etc.


Anne said...

Interesting thought on the planning/zoning. It would be a great way to increase the value of agricultural land. Maybe tax carbon at the pump but refund it for gardens...

Anne said...

Oh yeah! Rugs! I remember helping my Mennonite neighbors make one of those.

anna banana said...

thank you for mentioning these. i've been looking for interesting, comfortable sandals for a while now!

along the lines of what jon said about shredding plastics, could that shredded plastic possibly be used for housing insulation of some sort? between walls, maybe?

anna banana said...

oh. dang. it does look like they've disappeared. *goes to dig further*

Anne said...

We have a company here that is selling insulation made from recycled industrial cotton fibers: http://www.ecoproducts.com/Building/build_insulation/build_cotton_insulation.htm

You know, I think another thing we're making too many of is ceramic mugs. I t would be cool to figure out how to replace single serve portable water bottles with a mug. I think you'd need a sippy cup cover that fit on them...

Cheryl said...

A guy over at instructables.com made a cool roof for his dog house that was shingled with old cd's.

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NotSoBigLiving is the story of a woman inspired by Sarah Susanka, Bill McKibben, Airstreams, Tumbleweed houses, Mennonites, Jimmy Carter, hippies, survivalists, Anasazi, Pema Chodron and Joko Beck, Scott Peck, Buckminster Fuller, and Al Gore to see what she can do to reduce her carbon footprint in her mid-80's suburban townhome. Strategies include roommates, alternative travel, organic eating, planting a victory garden, mindfulness, and a belly full of laughter.