Having worked in the printing industry for many years, I was very familiar with recycled paper. When I left the industry in 2004, the highest percentage of recycled fiber content in paper was around 60-70%. And even papers that are not considered recycled fiber have some small portion of recycled pulp. It's interesting but I think it's more interesting to find out what else is made from all those products that we recycle. There are so many items that we recycle, it's hard to imagine just what gets made from all that stuff.
Well, let's take a look. Tires, for years these have been a big problem. You can't throw them out. You can't recycle them with other items, they have to go to a special location. Someplace that will accept them and dispose of them properly. Plus you have to pay to leave your tire. And goodness only knows you don't want to be around them if they catch on fire.
So here's what I found out. I knew that tires could be used to make landscape materials because I bought these things that went around trees to help keep weeds down. They were brown in colour, very heavy, maybe about 1" thick and sort of made to look like a weave of some sort. They were effective until the tree trunks got too big. But anyway, apparently, trash cans can be made from recycled tires; door mats (see photo at right), low-noise pavement and how about this... recycled sails and bicycle tires are made into bags. Yes, bags. Visit Treehugger.com and read how Teamwork Bags is done.
My french linguistics prof likes to collect sayings in English, that while they make sense in one regard are not grammatically correct. He had an environmentally friendly shopping bag that claimed "I used to be a pop bottle". I wasn't surprised by the saying, just that they made a fiber that looks like cloth from plastic.
Plastic pop bottles are really interesting. I visited enotes.com and saw an item about Fortrel EcoSpun, a new fiber made from recycled plastic pop bottles. I guess that's what was used to make that shopping bag. The page also has a list of other items that are made from the different types of plastic. It's pretty cool, really.
Apparently, glass has been recycled for years, melting it down, making new bottles etc. But it's also used to make the glass squares for tile, decorations -- it can be made to look recycled or like new material.
So many things can be done with these products that we discard. For an interesting take on creativity, visit Popgloss. They have numerous photos of very creative ways of using materials, such as crocheted grocery bag shoes (left) or necklaces made with recycled bottles. All kinds of interesting items. Granted these are not regular recycled products but it does show what can be done if the desire is there.
The list is probably endless as to the new products created by the old discarded products. Just keep on recycling or better yet, try not to use products that create so much waste. Remember to Reuse whenever possible!
Snake Western Pennsylvania
3 years ago