The Truth Is Out There…Isn’t It?

Season 3, Episode 3

Until not so long ago, chicken feet were essentially waste material.  Now they provide enough money to keep U.S. chicken producers in the black -- by exporting 300,000 metric tons of chicken “paws” to China and Hong Kong each year. In the first part of this hour-long episode of Freakonomics Radio, host Stephen Dubner explores this and other examples of weird recycling. We hear the story of a Cleveland non-profit called MedWish, which ships unused or outdated hospital equipment to hospitals in poor countries around the world. We also hear Intellectual Ventures founder Nathan Myhrvold describe a new nuclear-power reactor that runs on radioactive waste.

Weird Recycling: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

Our latest Freakonomics Radio podcast is called “Weird Recycling: Clever Ways to Not Waste Your Waste.” (You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen live via the media player above, or read the transcript below.)

I grew up on a little farm in a big family without a lot of resources. We reused, recycled, or repurposed everything imaginable. A lot of my siblings worked at a diner and brought home one-gallon glass mayonnaise jars, which we used as milk jugs for our cow. All the junk mail got turned into scratch paper (and, if it was really high-quality, homework paper). We of course had a massive compost heap out back. Those cardboard tubes from wire coat hangers? We used them to make firestarters (and, sometimes, fireworks :-)). Recycling wasn’t remotely a political thing; it was a way of life. Not just because it saved money, which it obviously did, but also because it was satisfyingly creative and worthwhile on a lot of levels.

So I’m always on the lookout for recycling stories, the weirder the better.