We live in a disposable society and generate tons of garbage each year. Yet one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, as Scotsman Angus Carnie discovered when he built a house out of rubbish.
After 20 years of working in the recycling industry, the 55-year-old decided to put his skills to good use. In six months, he built a modern house from scratch. And he only used recycled waste in its construction.
The house has all modern conveniences and runs on renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power.
Angus selected materials earmarked for landfill and used his skills to give them a new lease on life. He salvaged black powder from old printer cartridges and used it to paint the walls. He melted and compressed a variety of plastic products to provide insulation. He used jam jars for light fittings and old apple crates for furniture. His home also harvests and filters rainwater.
The house is completely self-sufficient and fully-functioning. And it cost a lot less to build than a normal house would. Angus believes people should find other uses for things before throwing them out. He explained, “People can’t keep using stuff. We have got to come up with alternative ways to use things.”
Angus said he built the house to show what can be done with the stuff we send to landfill. He is frustrated that Scotland lags behind other European countries when it comes to recycling.
Sweden, for example, is aiming to become the first zero-waste society. Since 2011, under one percent of Swedish households sent waste to landfill. The effectiveness of their recycling system is so off the charts, they’ve run out of rubbish. For several years, they have relied on trash from other countries to keep their recycling plants going. They use the energy generated from burning the trash to heat Swedish homes.
Sweden is also committed to taking care of their environment. In 1991, it slapped a heavy tax on fossil fuels, and now half of its electricity comes from renewable energy.
The Swedish authorities believe that communication is key in educating people about recycling. They give customers a discount at clothing shops for handing in old garments. They also offer a can and bottle system which rewards people with money for every item they recycle.
Swedish citizen, Daniel Silberstein, said recycling is now second nature to him. He stresses it’s all about creating the kind of world he wants his daughter to grow up in. He said that one day in the future, we’ll look back at this age of waste and it will all seem crazy.