You already knew that recycling whenever possible is a responsible thing to do, but did you know that some of the stuff in your recycling bin can find a second life as amazing and unexpected products?
1. KITTY LITTER
Certain brands of cat toiletry products are made from recycled newspapers, sourced from local centers whenever possible. On top of being green, because this litter is not clay-based, it also has the added benefit of not kicking up unpleasant kitty dust storms.
You may be surprised to learn that hotels don’t always throw out your mostly intact bar of soap left in the shower. Instead, services can clean the bars and send them to foreign countries where cleaning supplies are more difficult to come by.
The next time you’re cruising down a freshly paved highway, you might want to thank your renovation-obsessed neighbor: Discarded roofing shingles are a growing resource for asphalt manufacturers. The old pieces are ground up and used to improve the quality of pavement. Recycled glass can also be used to help the reflective properties of highway markers.
Regional sporting achievements or corporate accomplishments can now be recognized in an environmentally friendly way. Several companies are using recycled glass and even newsprint to make trophies.
5. WINTER JACKETS
Wearing trash has never looked so good! The polyester lining in coats can be created from old plastic bottles, with some jackets containing as much as 150 containers’ worth of material.
6. AUTOMOTIVE PARTS
Unless you’re driving a classic car, odds are your vehicle of choice has components made from recycled bottle caps and containers. Seat cushions, wheel liners, and splashguards are among the parts that use recycled materials.
7. TENNIS BALLS
Some tennis ball manufacturing processes result in a lot of unused, shaved-off rubber. Rather than waste these shavings, companies can utilize the remnants to make up to two million extra balls a year.
8. PLAYGROUND EQUIPMENT
The durable “plastic lumber” of slides, swings, and other recreational equipment is often the product of High Density Polyethylene, the same kind of tough material found in milk jugs.
9. BASEBALL BATS
Aluminum bats used in games from street stickball to the college level can be sourced from used aluminum cans. You’ll also find license plates, pie plates, and thumbtacks made from the highly versatile recycled material—heat-resistant and rust-proof, aluminum can be reused almost indefinitely.
Depending on your contractor’s preferences, you might wind up living in a literal glass house. Grinding down recycled glass into “cullets,” or very fine shards, can produce a material that’s perfect for use in bricks due to its smooth surface.
11. SLEEPING BAGS
As with jackets, the toasty filling of a sleeping bag can be the product of recycled plastics or fiber materials. You might even find one that uses discarded coconut shells for warmth.
12. BERRY BOXES AND EGG CARTONS
The next container of berries or eggs you grab at the grocery store might have started as old newspapers.
Your carbon footprint doesn’t stop leaving an impression when you stop walking around—so make your final resting place a green one. Several companies offer environmentally friendly coffins; some are biodegradable and made from recycled paper or bamboo.
14. STADIUM SEATS
With hundreds of thousands of hard plastic seats in arenas worldwide, using existing materials can make a major impact on sustainable businesses. Chairs in major stadiums are already being made from recycled plastic and scrap iron, while older chairs can be donated to teams in smaller leagues.
The plastic in toothbrush handles doesn’t need to be injection-molded from scratch—some companies use recycled yogurt cups. (Don’t worry: the bristles are new.)
Recycling can make everything old feel new again. Of course, we’re glad that some old things haven’t made a comeback. Like dial-up Internet.