Speed Reads

It wasn't all bad

Through repurposing, this company keeps millions of pounds of waste out of landfills every year

RepurposedMaterials gives new life to commercial waste that is otherwise bound for the landfill.

The Denver company estimates that every year, it keeps 3 million pounds of refuse out of dumps across the United States. Its founder, Damon Carson, accepts all kinds of industrial waste — think hundreds of pounds of rope, used fire hoses, and street-sweeper bristles — and connects these castoff items to new owners.

The bristles, for example, can be put out in a field so livestock can use them as backscratchers, and the fire hoses can be used as bumpers to protect boat docks. Recycling takes energy, while repurposing does not, so RepurposedMaterials makes sure the items stay in their original forms. "Why grind something up," Carson asked Popular Science, "why melt something down, if it still has value?"

On average, about once a week Carson will receive an item he's never had before — recently, it was ceramic paper — and he gets to work learning about the product and then finding the right new owner. Carson got the idea to start RepurposedMaterials while working in the trash business, and saw up close how wasteful people can be, throwing away perfectly good items like windows still wrapped in factory plastic. Since then, he has found that even if it doesn't seem like it, every discarded item that comes his way has value. Read more at Popular Science.