I'm having a hard time finding a recycling project for my college biology class that turns trash into something useful

 Most of the project ideas that I've seen so far seem too basic, too simple, and not creative enough for a college level project ( e.g. a milk carton bird feeder, green house is a bottle...) Any ideas on a project that will show a high level of difficulty, creativity, and usefulness of a material that might otherwise cause harm to the environment if not recycled? Thanks for any help...

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Kiteman7 years ago
Why not let them do the thinking?

Ask them; Any ideas on a project that will show a high level of difficulty, creativity, and usefulness of a material that might otherwise cause harm to the environment if not recycled?

Filter for plausibility, size, timescales involved etc, then let them do their own thing.

You could even add a requirement that they post their project as an instructable, as one technology teacher did for a ride-on hovercraft project, and another did for a catapult project.

JimFlo Kiteman7 years ago
Is Lillah the instructor? I got the impression she was a student....
Totally different train of thought if she is teaching.
Kiteman JimFlo7 years ago
Oh, I just assumed she was looking for lesson plans...
jtobako7 years ago
How about recycling plastic threw a cotton candy machine and using it as a concrete filler/re-enforcement for use in preventing erosion?

How about using gasification of old tires to provide heat, more points if you can use the heat to turn the steel wires inside into cast iron : )

Methane digestors sound good for biology, so would breeding bacteria strains that break down plastics.  Some plants take up heavy metals from the soil, perhaps growing them and using them instead of digging up ore?

Find a good way to remove the heavy metal ink contaminates from paper, then breaking the cellulose down (or not...) for carbon sequestering.

Papercrete-a combination of concrete and paper pulp starting to see some use in specialized construction.

Re-refine used motor oil.

Biological filtering (swamps/bogs) to recycle household water (grey or black).

Recycle food scraps threw composting (easy) or animals such as pigs for faster return on investment (but look to the safety regs on cooking the food so it's safe for the pigs).

What kind of limits do you want to put on ideas?  Time factors, price, scale, practicality, usefulness...
cvianna17 years ago
There are some really creative people recycling cooking oil and turning it into fuel for their vehicles. I have also seen cardboard boxes and pennies turned into window solar heaters that work really well to heat a room, as well as boxes turned into solar ovens. The ovens could really be interesting if approached from a third world or disaster perspective. Especially timely considering the hardships the Haitian people are suffering right now.
JimFlo7 years ago
There is a project that works well around dairys or places with biomass available. Simplified version, you take two large (500 gallons or larger) metal tanks and cut the ends off. One has to slide inside the other. The bigger ones opening faces up, the just slightly smaller one slides opening down into the big one. Fill with water and cow manure, tap a pipr into the top, run it to a pressure regulator and as the manure decomposes it prioduces methane. The weight of the top "floating" tank will pressureize the gas, you run it to a generator, storage, gas heater, hell, even a gas yard light. You need two systems to run continuously, one starting up as the other is finishing. When everything inside is finished digesting it is good mild fertilizer, no runoff to pollute waterways...
shawneegeek7 years ago

In south america they recycle tires into flip flops and shoes.  Or you could cover artificial, and organic waste in one, and make a composter from scrap wood,metal, or plastic, then throw all the kitchen waste in it.  I guess it depends on the size of your project, but i have seen pontoons made from 1 gallon milk jugs, and helped build a house from old tired and earth. 

Vermiculture has always been a favorite of mine for recycling. Composting and worms make a helluva combination to keep "garbage" out of the landfills, easy to build and use, and really easy to demonstate to a teacher/class. If you want to process meat scraps the same way there are several beetle colonies that work well, but they are a little trickier to keep.

iPodGuy7 years ago

I found this to be the most beautiful example of something as simple as a plastic bag converted in something amazing

Anything by this man www.instructables.com/member/Creativeman/ is perfect for recycling cardboard. I think if you could make a small living set(chair, table, small closet) you would have the greatest project ever!

Just imagine it. you could call your project "making a living out of cardboard" and you can show your set. Perhaps let people sit in it, try out the closet, sit at the table.

i don't know how old you are but if I saw a kid with a project like that he/she would get the maximum points I could give him/her. also this project would prove to be complex in simplicity ;) something that great and easy to make! It's just what people want!
howgoodisit7 years ago
Hey, you could do my CD LED light.
Doctor What7 years ago
My favorite things to recycle are plastic grocery bags and tires.  

They have so many uses!  Plastic grocery bags can be knitted, so you can make a plethora of things with them!  There is a great tutorial in the plastic bag bag instructable.

Tires are made of tough, durable rubber.  I love making flip flops out of them (any hippie teacher will love you).  Also, they make good containers, cases, and wallets.
and chairs, and houses.