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What are some ideas for re-purposing common disposable items?

There are many items that are disposable that we now recycle. However, it takes energy to recycle things and I was wondering if some of this energy might be saved by re-purposing the items to a second functional need with no real treatment. Examples of disposable items that might be re-purposed include soda bottles, car tires and cardboard boxes. One example of a re-purpose is car tires being bound together and turned into reefs for sea life.

I am sure there are many items and uses. What are they?

I am mostly interested in functional uses rather than artistic ones.


Closing Statement from Robert Galway

Thanks everyone for providing ideas.

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      Nov 1 2013: not only is it recycled but it also looks cool.
      Downside: not everybody is an architect being able to build such structures.
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        Nov 1 2013: I would love to visit one of these Earthships, I am very curious as to how the sewage system works.
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        Nov 1 2013: Maybe a study of primitive architecture, native architecture and even animal architecture would help magnify the small (but growing) vision of the "sustainable" future. I think a vast majority of people do not believe there can be a symbiotic relationship between man and nature...at least a relationship that leaves man as comfortable as we have grown accustomed to. I think most still see saving the environment as a chore that will leave us living very frugal lives.
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          Nov 1 2013: You are right, marketing of all these environmental groups really isn't doing a good job because at the end folks get the impression that we have to move back in time when people lived in caves.
          I don't think this is necessary. We just have to be more conscious about how we interact with our environment. If everybody does a little at the end it all ends up when multiplied by 7 billion
    • W T 100+

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      Nov 1 2013: Michael Reynolds needs to come on TED.........thanks for sharing the video.
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        Nov 1 2013: You are very welcome and I agree, I think he could make a wonderful contribution to the ever growing list of talks.Thanks for taking the time to comment.
    • Nov 1 2013: Wow! Great Youtube video! Earthships instead of houses to "avoid per-concieved notions of houses". Love it! You could use exercise bikes to supplement the solar cells and batteries. You could grow food on the roofs of an earth houses as use the root structure to help hold things as well.

      These folks are purists, which is great, but there is also a lot of middle ground between the purist and the rest of the population, where one or two steps in the direction taken by the purists by large number of people, have an increased combined effect.

      Rammed earth construction has been around for a while.( http://home.howstuffworks.com/rammed-earth-home.htm) One idea is to re-purpose things that supplement this technique, maybe with discarded materials used as the "re-bar". Another aspect is the benefit of matching the construction technique used, to the area your in. This should save on transportation costs of materials and make alternative materials more attractive.

      This has been around for a long time, but Mother Earth News has some neat ideas on this style of life.
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      Nov 1 2013: That is very cool Glenn....enjoyed it.!

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