15 Surprising Things That Are Made from Recycled Materials

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istock

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. 

2. SOAP 

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. 

3. ROADS

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. 

4. TROPHIES 

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. 

10. BRICKS 

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.  

13. COFFINS 

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. 

15. TOOTHBRUSHES 

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.

5 Facts About Charles Ponzi and the Original Ponzi Scheme

Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain
Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

Some of the most infamous scams in history have been Ponzi schemes, but before Bernie Madoff (or Bitcoin), there was Charles Ponzi himself. The con he built was so successful that his last name became synonymous with fraud. In January 2020, a century after he set up his fraudulent Securities Exchange Company, the phrase Ponzi scheme is still used to describe any scheme in which funds from new investors are used to pay back old investors. Here are some facts about Ponzi and his scheme that you should know.

1. Charles Ponzi arrived in the U.S. with $2.50 in his pocket.

Charles Ponzi was born in Lugo, Italy, in 1882. As a young adult, he worked as a postal worker and studied at the University of Roma La Sapienza. Neither path panned out for him, however. In 1903, when faced with dwindling funds, Ponzi boarded a ship for America in search of a better life. But Ponzi wasn't a master hustler at this point in his life; he arrived in Boston with $2.50 after gambling away the rest of his life savings on the ship.

2. Charles Ponzi spent time in prison before his famous scheme.

Ponzi was no stranger to crime before concocting the scheme that made his surname infamous. Not long after arriving in Boston, he moved to Canada and got in trouble for forging checks. He spent two years in a Canadian prison for his offenses. Back in the U.S., he served a term in federal prison for illegally transporting five Italians immigrants across the Canadian border. It was only after his so-called Ponzi scheme began to crumble that his criminal history was made public by journalists, thus speeding up his downfall.

3. Charles Ponzi got rich off the postal system.

In 1920, Ponzi discovered the key to the ultimate get-rich-quick scheme: an international postal reply coupon worth $.05. It had been included in a parcel he received from Spain as prepayment for his reply postage. Thanks to an international treaty, the voucher could be exchanged for one U.S. postage stamp worth a nickel, which Ponzi could then sell. Ponzi knew that the value of the Spanish peseta had recently fallen in relation to the dollar, which meant that the coupon was actually worth more than the 30 centavos used to purchase it in Spain. He took this concept to the extreme by recruiting people back home in Italy to buy postal reply coupons in bulk from countries with weak economies, so that he could redeem them in the U.S. for a profit.

4. Charles Ponzi swindled $20 million from investors.

Ponzi technically wasn’t breaking any laws with his postal service transactions, and if he had kept his idea to himself he would have gotten away with it. Instead, he turned his small money-making operation into a wide-reaching scam. If people invested money into his “business” of cashing in foreign postal vouchers, which he dubbed the Securities Exchange Company, they would get their money back plus 50 percent interest in 90 days. The deal was too good for many investors to pass up.

It was also too good to be true: The money wasn’t being used to buy coupons overseas. Ponzi kept most of the investments for himself and used the flood of money coming in from new investors to pay off the old ones. Many investors were so thrilled with their returns that they invested whatever money they had made back into the business, which helped Ponzi keep the sham afloat.

Ponzi was finally rich and famous, but soon enough, cracks in the scheme started to form. The Boston Post launched an investigation into Ponzi and revealed that in order for his business to be functional, he would need to be moving 160 million vouchers across world borders. There were only 27,000 postal reply coupons in circulation at the time. The final blow came when the publicist he had hired to represent him came out against him to the public. His system fell apart and it was revealed that he had stolen $20 million from investors.

Because he had lied to his clients about their investments through the mail, Ponzi was ultimately charged by the federal government for mail fraud. He served three-and-a-half years in prison and then served an additional nine years for state charges.

5. Charles Ponzi didn’t invent the Ponzi scheme.

Though Ponzi schemes were eventually named for him, Charles Ponzi didn’t invent this type of scam. There were many crooks before him who used the same method to exploit investors. Charles Dickens even wrote pre-Ponzi Ponzi schemes into his 1857 novel Little Doritt.

It’s possible that Ponzi got the idea for his own fraud from William F. Miller, who pulled a similar stunt working as a bookkeeper in Brooklyn in 1899. But it was the highs of Ponzi’s success—and the lows of his demise—that made his story so memorable.

14 Candid Photos of Martin Luther King Jr.

Getty Images
Getty Images

January 20, 2020 is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the federal holiday that celebrates the life of the civil rights activist. The holiday—which was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1983, and has been observed annually since 1986—is held on the third Monday in January. (King was born on January 15.) Here's a look back at King in action.

Martin Luther King Jr. on the phone
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  • American civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. sits on a couch and speaks on the telephone after encountering a white mob protesting against the Freedom Riders in Montgomery, Alabama, on May 26, 1961.


J. Wilds/Keystone/Getty Images
  • American civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King arriving in London on October 1, 1961. He was in England to be the chief speaker at a public meeting about color prejudice and to appear on the BBC television program Face To Face.


Three Lions/Getty Images
  • American president John F. Kennedy at the White House on August 28, 1963 with leaders of the civil rights March on Washington (left to right): Dr. Martin Luther King, Rabbi Joachim Prinz, A. Philip Randolph, President Kennedy, Walter Reuther, and Roy Wilkins. Behind Reuther is Vice President Lyndon Johnson.


William H. Alden/Evening Standard/Getty Images
  • King raising his hands in a restaurant on September 21, 1963.


Evening Standard/Getty Images
  • Canon John Collins greeting King at London Airport on December 5, 1964.


Keystone/Getty Images
  • King receives the Nobel Prize for Peace from Gunnar Jahn, president of the Nobel Prize Committee, in Oslo, on December 10, 1964.


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  • President Lyndon B. Johnson discusses the Voting Rights Act with King in January 1965. The act, part of President Johnson's "Great Society" program, trebled the number of black voters in the south, who had previously been hindered by racially inspired laws.


William Lovelace/Express/Getty Images
  • King and his wife, Coretta Scott King, lead a civil rights march from Selma, Alabama, to the state capital in Montgomery in March 1965. On the left (holding bottle) is American diplomat Ralph Bunche.


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  • King addresses a crowd in front of the Capitol Building in Montgomery, Alabama, following a voting rights march from Selma, Alabama, in March 1965.


William Lovelace/Express/Getty Images
  • King listening to a transistor radio in the front line of the third march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, to campaign for proper registration of black voters, on March 23, 1965. Among the other marchers are: Ralph Abernathy (1926 - 1990, second from left), Ralph Bunche (1903 - 1971, third from right) and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907 - 1972, far right). The first march ended in violence when marchers were attacked by police. The second was aborted after a legal injunction was issued.


Keystone/Getty Images
  • King addresses civil rights marchers in Selma, Alabama, in April 1965.


Express Newspapers/Getty Images
  • King speaks to reporters during a march en route to Jackson, Mississippi, on June 11, 1966.


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  • Watched by Dr. Charles Bousenquet, King signs the Degree Roll at Newcastle University after receiving an honorary Doctor of Civil Law degree, Newcastle, England, on November 14, 1967.


John Goodwin/Getty Images
  • King speaks at a January 12, 1968 press conference for Clergy & Laymen Concerned About Vietnam, held at the Belmont Plaza Hotel, New York City. He announced the Poor People's March On Washington at this event.

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