5 Unusual Upcycling Uses With Natural Resources
Our planet can be considered a true chest of wonders, having a wide array of resources that could be used for multiple purposes. There are resources that are in front of our eyes, but so many people are not aware of their existence. Using them could help us a great deal, not only providing raw materials for various processes, but also by promoting a clean environment, without the toxic effects of the chemicals that currently surround us. I’m sure the list goes on and on but I was astonished of these 5 unusual upcycling uses with natural resources.
1. Cochineal Bugs
You say what? Bugs in my food, bugs in my fabric? The use of Cochineal bugs as a natural pigment dates back to the beginnings of civilization as we know it. If you ever heard about carmine, the bright red color also known as crimson lake, natural red 4, or even E120, you should know that it is processed from the females of these bugs. This bug bears the name of cochineal insect, and it lives on cacti only, their natural area of breeding being Peru, Mexico, and Central America. Around 1950s, when chemical colors emerged, people forgot about the pigment offered by the cochineal insects. But today, together with the reveal that chemical colors are also toxic, these bugs are back in the spotlight. The bugs are being raised in farms, on plantations specially dedicated for them, Peru currently having the biggest farm of this kind. The insects are gathered by hand off the plants, immersed in hot water, and then sun dried. Then they are processed for extracting the Carmine acid, the substance that provides the bright red color. The resulted dye is mainly used for the making of cosmetic products, like soaps, lipstick, or nail products and dying fabric for clothes and home decor materials. You will also find it in the food industry, for making candy, juice, yogurt, and ice cream.
Photo Source is ElaineDuncan.com
2. Agave for Car Parts (This post is in collaboration with Ford/Jose Cuervo)
Can you imagine that the fibers of a plant could end up being car parts? Well, there is no need to imagine this anymore, because it is possible and it happens as we speak. It seems that the agave plant holds the answer to the idea of making sustainable car parts. This was possible after Ford, the famous car manufacturer, teamed up with Jose Cuervo, the famous tequila manufacturer. As you may know, tequila is made from agave, being a distilled beverage that is based on the existence of this plant. Jose Cuervo has impressive Agave plantations in the state of Jalisco, Mexico. But, just like in any other manufacturing processes, a lot of by-products result after taking what is necessary from the agave plant. Usually, these by-products end up being waste, a lot of waste considering the amounts of tequila made by the company. Luckily, this waste has a second chance of becoming something useful, as Ford takes the by-products and transforms it in a bio plastic material. The researchers of Ford currently test the new material to check on its durability and resistance to heat, as it is planned to be turned into trash bins, HVAC units, or wiring harnesses. The future for these agave fibers looks bright, because the results of the tests are favorable. They are both resistant and aesthetic, making them the perfect candidate. Besides making a car more eco-friendly, at least partially, by eliminating the existence of parts with toxic components, the new bioplastic obtained from agave will make the car lighter, which will also positively influence the car’s fuel consumption. The collaboration between Jose Cuerva and Ford is young, having started this summer, but it is already very promising. Both companies are concerned about building a sustainable development, so reducing the amount of waste and creating eco-friendly items is just the way to go.
3. Bamboo for Floors and other uses (This posts contains affiliate links from Amazon)
The bamboo is another incredible plant, being original from Asia, where it also has a significant economic value. It is used as a construction material, food source, and as prime component in the making of many items. It has a compression strength that is higher than the one of wood, brick, or concrete, and a tensile strength that is almost as good as the steel’s. In other words, it is a sturdy, flexible, and reliable material. Bamboo can be used for making floors, floor mats, as construction material, in cooking, as textile, in making furniture, musical instruments, and bed sheets. However it is used, bamboo will have great aesthetics, will be extremely functional, and will prove to be very resistant in time. This is a very interesting website to visit to learn more about bamboo and to get inspired with thousands of it’s uses.
Used tires can turn into waste that is hard to manage, because it takes a very long time for tires to decompose. Wikipedia states that there are over 259 million tires discarded annually. Luckily, there are a few ways of reusing tires that will prolong the life of this material and help us in various ways. For instance, used rubber tires can be used for playgrounds, as they can become swing chairs or obstacle courses for the young ones. Some people use rubber tires cut in small pieces as garden bed, just like bark mulch is used, to retain water in the soil and prevent weeds from growing. Recycling old tires into coffee tables, magazine baskets and chairs can be a unique way to add decor to your home.
5. Banana peels
Many people throw away banana peels once they have consumed the fruit, without knowing the multiple uses a banana peel can have. If you have a garden, for instance, you can cut the banana peels in little pieces and scatter them on the ground, around your flowers and vegetables. These peels have an incredible nutritional value, providing manganese, potassium, and other precious minerals. You can even put pieces of banana peels in a water container, let it sit for a while, and use this water to feed any kind of plant. If you have a bug bite, rubbing the soft white side of a banana peel on it will help the pain and itching. Also, did you know that you can polish your shoes with banana peels? Again, rub the soft white side of the peel on your leather shoes, and then gently wipe it with a clean cloth.