Five tantalizing tales of bizarre recycling

You recycle, I recycle (at least most of the time) and we think  we’re probably both fairly serious about recycling.  No, no we’re not.  We live in a world where they are extreme recyclers – folks who take it one step beyond.

To be honest, most of these are reusing, which is a step above recycling.  Even better.

Bomb Proof Recycling

London has recently installed a series of newspaper recycling bins that are capable of containing or withstanding a serious bomb blast.  The bins are very expensive, but if they end up making any money, 1% of that will be donated to the World Wildlife Federation

Beer Bottle Temple Builders

A group of Buddhist Monks in Sisaket, Thailand collected very large numbers of bottles to build the Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew temple.  As long as you make sure to wash off the labels, the walls become patterned stained glass windows.

Making paper out of poo

Much pooh contains lots of fiber; paper is made of fiber.  You can make paper out of horse, sheep, moose, panda, donkeys, and more.

My favorite is Mr. Ellie Pooh who makes elephant pooh into paper made into beautiful stationery products.


Freegans believe food should be free: that is a right and should accessible to all.  They also see our society as creating way too much waste.  Freegans set their lifestyle by collecting food and other necessary products from any place they can.  This includes dumpster diving, but can also include field gleaning or anything else in order to recycle perfectly good food.

Art Cars

Have a bunch of stuff and don’t know what to do with it?  Glue it to a car, just make it look pretty.  The art car phenomenon was beautifully unhip before recycling ever was.

Driving on into the sunset

I have a car that gets about 30 mpg, which I thought was pretty good for a ten-year-old American car.  There are folks out there who put that number to shame, they are called hypermilers.

What sets them aside of the rest of us, the merely thrifty?  I do the basics – keep my tires inflated right, keep my engine tuned up and running well, I don’t drive aggressively, etc.  These folks take driving much more seriously and engage in a set of behaviors aimed at boosting mileage as high as possible – doubling it or possibly reaching the Holy Grail of 100 mpg.  Warning: some of these driving behaviors are extreme, and I would certainly not attempt them.

Hypermiling ideas.

Don’t speed – really, drive far below the speed limit

Drive a stick

Draft behind trucks (I really don’t recommend this one)

Don’t ever break unless its an emergency (same as the one above)

Weight loss: Don’t carry extra loads, possibly even rip out your back seat

Aerodynamics: Rip the luggage rack off your car and rip off anything else that is getting in the way of the wind, add aerodynamic doo-dads (below) if necessary

Aerodynamic tail from Wired Magazine’s Hypermiling page makes me want some sheet metal and duct tape – the paint is optional.

Stopping: turn your engine off at a traffic light

Accelerate slowly after stops

Purchase high performance after-market car parts

Avoid braking: coast and glide, slow naturally if possible

Ridge riding with a wheel along the white line to the right of the road to reduce friction

Pulse-and-glide:  Accelerate into turns and coast out

Always know your mpg

For lots more ideas and resources, visit Ecotrekker’s Ultimate Guide to Hypermiling

This all looks like a fun and interesting hobby, and we can learn a lot from the hypermilers.  Still, we shouldn’t have to engage in life-threatening behavior in order to get a decent mpg.  The auto industry has known how to increase mileage for years – adopting many of the innovations the hypermilers do: less weight, more aerodynamics, certain types of parts.  The Automotive X Prize is offering large-money prizes for production ready high mpg vehicles.  Real change – for everyone.

Weekly heroes: Find it, re imagine it, and sell it edition

This week’s thanks goes out to all the crafters who find someone’s trash (old license plates, cards, t-shirts, etc.) and are able to look at it with insight and imagination, turn it around in their brain and hands, and make something else out of it.  Ultra-small business hold great hope for an economy on a humane scale.

My favorite item made by one of these creators is pictured below, a headband made by L.M. Lowell from 2bLovedAgain.  It’s two t-shirt sleeves sewn together and decorated and I use it at least once a week – for over two years now.  Pretty good for some old junk.

Another favorite set of heroes are Sally and Laurie Pillman at Garden Glitz.  They find old plates, cups, saucers, etc. and re-purpose them into flowers, birds, insects, and toadstools.  These beauties are now all over town – my neighbor’s flower stares across the driveway at my husband’s bird-feeding cup.

These creators have learned to use their imaginations to have fun – and in the process help recreate a society with a smaller waste stream that consequently uses less energy.  They also take a hobby and expand it into an ultra-small business, which may one day grow larger and do some good for the economy.

Me?  My calling is to make art from old bottle caps.  I’ll keep you updated as this gets going.

A tip of the had also goes farmer’s markets, craft shows, Etsy, and all those who create markets for these ultra-small business people.

Betty White v. Chuck Norris

Everyone knows that Betty White is a fantastic woman and a wonderful actress.  She is also a great environmentalist.   Last year, she made a calendar (below) the proceeds of which went to the Morris Animal Foundation.

Betty always wanted to be a forest ranger when she was a girl, but couldn’t because they didn’t allow women rangers then.  Now, the U.S. Forest Service has named her an honorary U.S. Forest Ranger.

White is saving the saiga antelope in Kazakhstan.

White has written a book about animals at the zoo.

What has done a pile of amazing things – so, of course, my question is how does she stand up to Chuck Norris?  (I invite you to play along here)

When Norris does a push-up, he pushes down the earth.  When White does a push-up, the earth rises to meet her.

Norris got to the end of the bottomless pit, and White was waiting for him there.

Multiple people have died because Chuck Norris gave them the finger.  Betty White is far to refined to have to use a rude gesture to get her way.

Norris isn’t allowed on airplanes because his fists are deadly weapons.  White  isn’t allowed on airplanes because her brain is a deadly weapon.

Chuck Norris has already been to Mars; that’s why there are no signs of life there.  And that’s why they are sending Betty White there next.

When the Boogeyman goes to sleep every night he checks his closet for Chuck Norris.  Then the Boogey man calls Betty White and she makes sure everything is ok.

Norris doesn’t believe in Germany.  Germany believes in White.

The chief export is Norris is pain.  The chief export of White is muffins.

When she heard Norris once kicked a baby elephant into puberty,  Betty White – who loves all creatures –  dressed Norris up as a giant peanut as punishment.  And let the adult elephants have at him.


Weekly heroes: Four on the floor edition

The Pontiac GTO, also known as the Goat, rules in the annals of the American Muscle Car.  Well, not the current one, but this one:

This very car was modified by a crew of green gearheads from Bad Ass Gas to run on compressed natural gas (CNG).  CNG is the cleanest running of the current alternative fuels for cars.  They then drove the car the full distance of Route 66.

Why do I love this?  This shows again that being green doesn’t mean giving things up, and it does mean you can have a lot of fun figuring out new ideas as you tinker with them.  What’s next?  How about a Bad Ass Gas Trans Am?

It may not be the perfect solution, but as for now, it’s one bad-ass idea!

Weekly heroes: With a machete edition

Some folks say that environmentalists don’t have a sense of humor.  Other put greens and hunters / fishers on opposite side of arguments.  And, just sometimes, a hero comes along wearing an old trash can filled with nails and wielding home-made Wolverine claws while riding water-skis.  And they prove everyone else wrong.

In Illinois (and much of the rest of the Midwest) several invasive species of Asian carp are wreaking havoc in the waterways and headed toward Lake Michigan.  The Army Corps of Engineers have built an electrified barrier in Chicago.  Illinois is working to allow fishers to donate cleaned and de-boned fish to food pantries   (with the biggest problem being the de-boning.)  Additionally, these fish have a personally vendetta against you and will leap from the water to slap you upside the head.

Image from Prairie State Outdoors

What we need, from all of this, is something to bind us together in the protection of our environment, perhaps something like Snake Whacking Day. I give you the fine young men from Peoria Carp Hunters.

And, these folks will take you out on the Illinois River and teach you the ever-so-fun basics of endangered species removal – largely using a compound bow.

Asian Carp are a problem that is immediate and tangible. It’s not far away in space like the Amazon or in time like global climate change.  Any of us can start working on it today – with a fishing line, a bow, or even a trash can covered in nails wielding Wolverine claws.  Bravo to the young men at Peoria Carp Hunters for bringing some joy into it.