It's a stretch of the imagination to think the soda bottle you drank from last night could be the shirt you wear in the future, but that's exactly what can happen if you recycle. Plastic is endlessly useful--so much so that it's a huge waste of potential, resources and energy for it to languish in a landfill. Without processing, you can turn plastic bottles into craft projects and useful home accessories. When you process it, you get a range of products as different as lumber and fabric.
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Turning plastic bottles and other post-consumer plastics into lumber solves several problems traditionally associated with wood, according to the federal government's Sustainable Practices and Opportunities Plan (SOPP). Plastic lumber doesn't mold or rot. It also doesn't attract or house insects and animals. It's made into custom shapes and colors with minimal processing. The drawbacks to plastic lumber are its inability to be used in load-bearing walls and its tendency to expand and contract in extreme temperatures.
Plastic fabric is called the vegan wool because of its resemblance to products made from the animal's coat. Strands of melted plastic are woven into fabrics in similar ways to traditional threads. This thread gets made into fleece blankets and clothes. It's also used in baby products, like bibs and cloth diapers because it wicks moisture away and holds it in while still being light-weight. Members of the eco-friendly community are torn between plastic-based fabrics because while they're recycled, they're not natural fibers.
Other Plastic Products
Plastic is most easily processed into plastic. Bottles are processed at manufacturing centers and made into bottles and containers of all shapes and sizes. According to Earth911, it takes 2/3 less energy to make something from recycled plastic than to make it from oil. This makes a significant difference in our environmental impact since processing plastics alone makes up four percent of our nation's energy usage.
You don't have to take plastic bottles to a recycling center to recycle them. You can repurpose them in your own home. Crafters and the eco-conscious use plastic bottles to store items, create home decorations and plan indoor and outdoor container gardens. They can be fashioned into pencil cups, piggy banks, scoops, terrariums and vases according to Artists Helping Children. These are just a few of the many ways you can recycle the bottles.