The world's 10 craziest recycling programs

The fact that “going green” has become this decade’s de facto cool global issue to support is a good thing. Whether it’s Al Gore winning prizes for his activism or nations around the world being forced to do their part to improve the environment, going green helps us all. But in the rush to hop on the green bandwagon, some cities and programs around the world might be sometimes taking things a bit too far. What follows is our semi-exhaustive breakdown of some of the odder well-intentioned recycling efforts and unfortunate foibles currently plaguing the global green movement.

1. Green Gums: Fake Chompers Equal Real Pay Day
The Japan Society for the Recycling of Dentures has embarked on a plan to make your fake chompers pay off after you’ve discarded them. Inspired by the efforts of 63-year-old Isao Miyoshi, the program is designed to collect old dentures and extract the embedded silver, gold and palladium housings, yielding an average of 3,000 yen (about $30) per set. According to the JSRD, 80% of the proceeds go to the Japan branch of UNICEF. In the first two months of the program, Miyoshi earned enough to donate over $10,000 to UNICEF, ultimately proving that mining the old gums of the elderly isn’t just environmentally green, but could end up putting a heap of green in your pocket as well.

Via Inventor Spot


2. Concealed Weapon: Japanese To Start Packing Chopsticks

A new initiative has emerged from the halls of Japan’s government that aims to have Japanese citizens carry their own set of chopsticks rather than using the disposable ones found at most restaurants. While the plan also includes encouraging citizens to use public transportation and ride bicycles — two activities Japanese citizens already indulge in to a greater extent than most of the planet — expecting fashion-conscious Japanese to suddenly start packing chopsticks as a part of their meticulous ensembles is perhaps a bit too ambitious. Nevertheless, in the land of cosplay, robotic secretaries and real-life “soylent green” (i.e. natto), don’t be surprised if the newest fashion trend to hit Japan turns out to be something involving chopstick holsters.

Via International Herald Tribune


3. Asahi Beer: Good For Ails Ya

Believe it or not, the next sip of Japanese beer you take could, in a roundabout way, save a life. Asahi beer isn’t just the most internationally recognizable of Japan’s brews, but it turns out to be the most environmentally friendly. According to a recent report in the U.K. Telegraph, Asahi makes good use of every bit of waste produced by the brewing process. While it probably wouldn’t surprise most to learn that Asahi recycles its own paper, bottles, cans, and even plastic hop sacks, it would floor most to find out that the company turns its waste yeast into pharmaceutical products for the mass market. We’re unclear on the exact details of the process, but if the next Japan cold remedy you ingest has that extra kick, you can let your imagine wander and consider the frothy possibilities.

Via The Telegraph


4. Möbius Trash Strip: Faux Recycling For Show

The U.K. may pay a lot of lip service to the sport of going green, but according to recent reports, the efforts of the environmentally conscientious are often thrown away as rubbish. The Telegraph reports that after being gingerly placed into local recycling bins, about 240,000 tons of plastic, paper, and glass ends up being burned or simply sent to garbage landfills. In short, tons of recyclable trash in Britain gets the common heave-ho into the waste dump, ultimately making the efforts of thousands of well-meaning Brits, well, meaningless.

Via The Telegraph


5. Save The Gorilla, Save The World

A little-known fact about cellphones is that their construction often relies on a metal known as coltan. According to numerous reports, the mining of coltan ore is responsible for the 70% decrease in Africa’s lowland gorilla population. Organizations like Eco-Cell hope to make a dent in this phenomenon by making it easier for cellphone users to put their flashy communicator to better use once they move on to a new model. Who knew that properly disposing of your souped-up phone could actually save an innocent primate somewhere?

Via eHow


6. Sweat And Urine Cocktails Coming To A Space Station Near You

Anyone dreaming of one day becoming an astronaut should be aware that space flight is not for the squeamish. The Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama has been researching and testing a method that would allow astronauts to obtain their water needs via the recycling of sweat and urine waste (think: the Stillsuits worn by the Fremen in Dune). Yum! But the system isn’t just focused on outer space; the charity organization Concern 4 Kids also hopes to bring the water-recycling technology to impoverished regions of the world. The technology, pushed forward by Hamilton Sundstrand, could turn out to be the most important recycling innovation ever, assuming we can pretend we don’t know where our water has been.

Via Fox News


7. Is That A Condom In Your Hair, Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?

Filed under “recycled items you should never put on your head” comes news that condoms are being recycled in China as hairbands. According to reports, recycled condoms used as hairbands are showing up in the Chinese cities of Dongguan and Guangzhou, threatening to spread sexually transmitted diseases via fashion accessory. Chinese law prohibits such reuse, but the practice is apparently widespread. Aside from the incredibly disgusting imagery connected with wrapping your hair in an old condom, we’re still compelled to offer nominal kudos for such an innovative (albeit dangerous) recycling trick. Ick.

Via AsiaOne


8. California Vintage: Toilet Water On Tap

Orange County, California is known for many things, from the hedonistic (as the setting for Richard Linklater’s film A Scanner Darkly) to the mindlessly harmless (the television show The O.C.), but a new water-recycling plan will likely put it on the map in an entirely different way. The program, called “indirect potable water reuse” or “toilet to tap” by some naysayers, purifies the local sewer water. Although this practice has been used for years to grow crops, sending the water directly to your tap is a new turn that might just inspire the gag reflex in even the most passionate recycling activists.

Via The New York Times


9. Crushed Glass Beach

Broward County, Florida officials are raising eyebrows with a new plan to reclaim some of its lost beach area succumbing to erosion — spreading recycled crushed glass. The plan would spread 15,600 tons of the glass material, or fake sand, over the county’s beach areas each year. Although controversial to some, the technique has been successfully employed for the beaches of on the Dutch Caribbean island of Curacao and in Lake Hood in New Zealand. Nevertheless, the idea of frolicking in a pile of sand that might have the errant shard of uncrushed glass waiting to nick you is unpleasant, to say the least.

Via Breitbart News


10. Scientist Hopes To Use Poop To Grow Your Space Food

Masamichi Yamashita, a researcher at Japan’s Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, recently held a lecture directed to his peers on the merits of recycling human waste to feed spacefarers. At the 36th Assembly of the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) in Beijing, Yamashita laid out a plan that argues for the healthy recycling of human waste to grow food in situations where humanity attempts to colonize new planets without an Earth-like ecosystem. Yamashita refers to the process as hyper-thermophilic aerobic compost, but most Earth-bound food lovers will probably refer to the idea as Poop A La Carte. As in, no seconds for me, thank you.

Via People's Daily China