Need Your “Weird Recycling” Stories, Please

We’re working on a Freakonomics Radio episode that will probably be called “Weird Recycling” (or, possibly, “What Do Chicken Paws and Tongue Depressors Have in Common?”). It’s about people who find or create value from things that are typically thought to be worthless (or worse!).

I’d love to gather a few more examples and I can think of no population in the world better suited for this task than the Freakonomics readership.

What say you?

Thanks in advance.

Audio Transcript


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  1. jedwardcooper says:

    I second that Antartica recycle. Glitter and dreams, can’t beat that!

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  2. Shane says:

    My dad took the remains of an old piano down into the woods near his house and cut away the front section to expose the strings. He then hung ping-pong balls above the piano so that the wind would carry them to bounce and roll off the strings. Nature played this eerie symphony by itself; we could hear the strange and unpredictable music floating up from the woods from the back garden.

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  3. Brian Keaney says:

    In Cambridge, MA, there is a park where you can place your dog waste into a receptacle, and the feces are used to power an electric light.

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    • robin marlowe says:

      My daughter went to a camp where they recycle all the waste of the fruits and veggis. Isn’t there an expression, one man’s …. is another’s….

      so daughter has this idea of NY city without cars- trolley travel crosstown and up and down. And then could it be powered by all the waste. I wonder?

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  4. Megan W. says:

    Using the byproducts from the beer industry to salt/de-ice the roads: p11

    Herr’s potato chips uses the skins and dropped potato chips to feed a herd of beef cows. (I learned this on the factory tour)

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  5. Henry Scollard says:

    11 years ago I found a mysterious, robotic-looking device in the curbside trash of a salon in downtown Boston. The thing stood 6 feet tall, had wheels, and was festooned with all sorts of heaters, blowers, and even had a primitive (like, Intellivision-primitive) computer circuit board in which various hair types and treatments could be programmed. It looked like it had been beamed down from “Logan’s Run”, and you don’t need me to tell you that I swept it up and took it home. (I have yet to find a more effective drunk/chick/drunk chick magnet. Not that I’m looking.) Technically, it is a Jupiter mu-30 something or another (nobody has ever been able to tell me exactly what it does), but to me it’s always been the Robot. And the Robot has had quite a run over the last decade. He’s appeared in the book “Taking Things Seriously”, has been featured in the Pop Candy column in USA Today, and is currently 1/2 of my current ventriloquist act. He’s done book signings/readings, served as my Christmas tree, hell, he probably has his own fan page somewhere. Just don’t ask him for a “Rachel”, ‘cos those days are long gone.

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  6. Scott Downs says:

    Check out the Quittapahilla Creek Garbage Museum in Annville, PA. Excellent and weird all at once. My newspaper, the Lebanon Daily News has done numerous stories, but a better way to be introduced is to simply start from the beginning on their Facebook page.

    Love your books. Thanks so much for helping me see the world a little differently.


    Scott Downs

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  7. Stuart says:

    This guy made an entire museum/playground out of recycled art in St. Louis:

    It is one of the coolest things I have ever experienced. Unfortunately, the guy responsible for it died just a couple months ago in an accident, while he was building even more recycled art (

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