How we manage our waste and our consumption of resources is something we should all be concerned about. While separating your papers and plastics is a great way to start recycling at home, there are a number of other options and systems you can incorporate into your recycling routine.
The internet is a great resource for hacks and tips on how to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Here are just a few genius systems that you can build at home to help make the world a cleaner, greener place.
1. Precious Plastic: Open-Source DIY Plastic Recycling Machines
One of the worst culprits when it comes to waste is plastic. Our oceans are currently chock-full of the stuff, and it's estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish. With this in mind, recycling plastic should be a high priority for all of us.
That's why Precious Plastic, a Dutch organization, has created simple machines that can effectively break down most plastics and allow for them to be recycled. The plans for the machines are open to anyone, and can be built inexpensively with accessible materials. Their machines allow for plastics to be reused in 3D printing, as well as a number of other manufacturing processes.
2. Look Out, Tesla: How to Make a Homemade Powerwall
Unsure of how to recycle your old batteries? Why not make your very own Powerwall? Many intrepid DIYers online have been turning old batteries into energy storage systems, hooked up to either wind or solar sources.
Take YouTuber Peter Matthews, for example. Matthews' amazing homemade Powerwall is made of 4,480 18650 batteries, and can store 40kwh of energy. He generates this energy from 40 solar panels on his roof, and thanks to the Powerwall can power most of his home cleanly. So next time you're thinking about throwing out your batteries, think about building something instead.
3. Clean and Simple: Filtering and Reusing Grey Water
One of the biggest issues when it comes to conserving and recycling water is grey water.
Grey water refers to any water used in your home that is gently used - for example, water from your washing machine, shower, bath etc. Luckily, there are ways to filter and reuse grey water, and drastically cut down on your water consumption.
Youtuber, Brittany App, constructed a grey water recycling system that allowed her to filter her waste water and use it to irrigate her garden. She used a pond pump connected to a piece of hose, which then ran into her garden house from the bath. If you do decide to recycle your grey water for watering your garden, make sure you're only using biodegradable soaps and detergents to avoid releasing any potentially harmful chemicals into the soil.
4. Turn a New Page: How to Make Paper at Home From Recycled Paper
One option for dealing with your paper waste is to dispose of it at the appropriate recycling bin or center. However, did you know that you could recycle your paper at home by yourself? Youtuber Make Something shows how you can make your own paper, using easy to find tools and materials.
Make or buy a deckle, and spray with oil to prevent the paper from sticking. Blend your waste paper with plenty of water to create pulp. Submerge your deckle in a tub of water, and pour in the pulp. Remove from the tub and dry well. Experiment with the process to achieve different textures and colors, and start enjoying having a never-ending supply of paper.
5. Reduce Water Waste: Creating a Homemade Shower Loop
Another great way to recycle your grey water is to just reuse it in the same setting. For example, you can filter and run your shower water back into your shower using a few hacks. Shower Loop is an open-source guide to creating a water loop that will allow you to reuse your shower water.
Their system uses a series of filters to clean the water and make it suitable for bathing again. Once reused the first time, you can reuse the water again in either your washing machine or toilet, so that each batch of water gets multiple uses. Their website walks through all the necessary steps and materials to allow you to build your own super helpful water recycling system.
6. Get Crafty: Spinning Yarn From Plastic Bags
Most people have already made the switch from plastic shopping bags to reusable canvas bags. However, if you do have a lot of plastic bags lying around in your house, you can still find a use for them. Blogger and artist Helle Jorgensen walks you through how to turn plastic bags into usable yarn.
The process couldn't be more simple. Just flatten the bags, remove the handles, and cut into narrow strips. Tie the strips in the middle, and wind into balls of yarn. You can then use the yarn for crafts, or creating a number of plastic woven goods. Get creative and see what you can make from your plastic yarn.
7. Keep It Clean: Turning Soap Scraps Into New Bars of Soap
Nothing is more annoying than when your bar of soap reaches that thin, barely usable stage. Instead of just dumping it, you can save up your soap scraps and recycle them into new bars of soap. Instructables user mxx posted a detailed guide on how to create your own soaps at home.
They run their scraps through a meat grinder, though breaking the scraps up through other means works too. Make sure your scraps are fully dry before grinding. Once ground, mix with cold water and pour into a greased mold. Allow to dry for a few days, and then remove from the molds. There you have it, your own homemade recycled soap!
8. Stay Warm: Using Waste Styrofoam For Insulation
Styrofoam is bad news when it comes to the environment, as it takes over 500 years to degrade. Rather than just dumping your styrofoam, why not try to integrate it into your home? Waldemar Sha posted a genius guide on Instructables on how to recycle styrofoam scraps into insulating panels.
All you need is plaster, styrofoam, and corrugated cardboard. Spread the plaster across the cardboard, and layer with your styrofoam. Sandwich between another piece of cardboard and allow to dry. If you do end up using these insulation panels, be sure to note that they're best used in dry conditions only.
9. Double Efficiency: Reduce Water Consumption With Combination Toilet and Sink
You might have already come across combination toilets and sinks, but you probably didn't realize how easy it was to create this water-saving system at home. MechEngineerMike posted a handy tutorial on Instructables on how to build your own combo using 3D-printed parts.
The system allows you to use clean water to wash your hands, which is then recycled into the rim of the toilet, which serves the next flush. It's a simple and effective way to get two uses out of one batch of water, and reduce your water consumption.
10. Green Gardening: Creating Planting Pots from Coffee Grounds
Instead of throwing away your coffee grounds, why not turn them into something new? User TVG3000 shows you how to turn the remnants of your favorite hot beverage into biodegradable planters for your houseplants.
All you have to do is mix coffee grounds, flour, and water to create the clay. You can either build your clay around an existing biodegradable pot, or make your own in a mold or with your hands. You'll never need to buy a plastic plant potter again!
11. Make Scraps Work: Turning Food Waste Into Biofuel
Composting is a great way to dispose of your food scraps and other biodegradable waste, but what if those same scraps could be used for power? Venkat Jayanth struck upon a method to turn leftovers into usable biogas.
Simply enclose the leftovers in an airtight container. As the waste decomposes, it releases natural gases like methane and carbon dioxide, which can then be burned for electricity and heat. Jayanth claims to have created his system with parts costing just $2, which you can read more about here. So next time you have leftovers, why not get them to power part of your home?