Sunday, February 6, 2011

Who Knew? -Unique Ways of Recycling-

When I moved to Dunlap, IL from Japan, I experienced a lot of changes. The houses were larger. We used a school bus to go to school. We ate in a cafeteria, instead of the classroom. And, gasp! There was no recess!
One of the things I had a hard time adjusting to, though, was the way one throws their trash away in the US. In Japan, we had two bins we used every day; one for burnable, and one for unburnable trash. Apart from that, it was normal for a household to have separate bins for plastic bottles, cans, glass bottles, and newspapers/magazines. So, being accustomed to separating trash in a certain manner, it was a revelation to me that Americans threw their trash all in one garbage bin (unless, of course, you explicitly went to a location where you could deposit all of your recyclables).
This difference made me wonder: how exactly are these recycled goods recycled? Here are a few interesting results.
These airplane trolleys are reused as bookcases, bookshelves, desks, and much more.

Unwanted clothes are stitched together to create a simple carpet system that can easily be cut into any size.

This building block called BituBlock is extremely strong and durable – despite the fact that it consists of post-consumer recycled products such as ash, glass, and even sewage.
Lastly, glass bottles are crushed to be mixed into cement, which reduces the amount of cement used, not to mention making the road a more pleasant site to behold. I know they do this a lot in Japan, and since cars aren’t used as much in this country, I was always dazed at how the road sparkled while I walked with my friends.

It is amazing how so many materials can be used in such an original, innovative way. And no doubt there would be more to come in the future.

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  1. This is interesting, it is always good to see recycled materials be used for practical uses. As for the United States and recycling, it is true we do not recycle as much as we should. This however is variable due to the proximity of large city's. The closer you are to a city the more likely you will see recycling plants. It is nice to see these innovative products, but I enjoy seeing more practical items being made.

  2. Wow! I would imagine it would be quite the change after moving from Japan to a town in central Illinois. But, as well, I too have many times wondered about what happens to the trash that is thrown out by the curb each week in Northbrook, Illinois. When I used to attend a summer camp in Colorado, the trash was done in an extremely similar fashion. The camp as a whole, almost acted self-sufficiently in the way that it separated its own trash and burnt it on sight as well. I always wondered why the camp did this, but I figured it had something to do with the fact that the camp was very old when it was founded, so there might not have even been regular trash collection back then, which would force them to find their own way to dispose of trash. But, perhaps, after reading that Japan does this today in modern times, I figure that maybe it is simply a environmentally friendly way of disposing of trash. But still, I wonder then what happens to the trash I throw out here at home. Is it burned as well? And if so, where? Is it buried underground? Or is it all just thrown in landfills? Possibly, it is a combination of all of these, but even so, I found the ways in which old things are recycled to be very interesting. Particularly, the way that old clothes are made into carpets seemed very strange to me. Personally, I would never want a carpet in my house made from a bunch of strangers’ laundry, but nonetheless it’s nice that the world has found use for other peoples’ garbage. Truly, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.