You may well hold your hands up when you see the mountains of rubbish that accumulate on the streets. We live in the most wasteful, throwaway society the world has ever seen, and everywhere seems to be getting clogged by it, even the oceans. Governments talk of horrendous problems with overfull landfill sites, and we all let somebody else worry about it.
The planet and those that occupy it cannot carry on in this way. At some point, we need to start giving back instead of taking, and at last some are beginning to see the light. The world needs our help, however little we can do, so we all need to get with the programme. Hopefully it is not already too late. We could start by using old newspapers as insulation for our walls.
With the emphasis today on greener living, each of us has to take responsibility for doing the best we can at recycling. Believe it or not a whole new industry is growing around this concept, and you might be surprised at just how much trash gets turned into treasure every day. Used vegetable oils get processed to produce bio-fuels, but that is just the tip of the iceberg.
We try to avoid using too much paper in order to save trees, but using less wood can hardly be less important. The UK is actually leading the world just now when it comes to green funerals. Around 10,000 people each year are now buried in biodegradable coffins or shrouds that can be used for a woodland burial.
There is a huge variety of coffins, from recycled paper, willow and bamboo to hand-painted, flat packed cardboard types. Eco coffins also tend to be much cheaper than their conventional MDF/wood counterparts.
Waste consumer products, including sewage, ash and glass, can be compacted and moulded into strong and durable building blocks that are not only odour-free but at least as strong as concrete. When one considers the untold thousands of tons of waste that go to landfills, it is easy to imagine that much of it could be used to help provide materials for much needed housing projects around the world.
Cardboard can be used for much more elaborate structures, like this bridge in China, made of cardboard reinforced with plastic and paper, and capable of carrying 20 people at a time!
There are sites now, notably in Holland and the USA, where household waste is burned to generate electrical power, another sensible use of waste.
How often have you carelessly discarded an old Bic pen because it ran out? Even these have their uses, as shown by this stylish chandelier made by one inventive recycler.
Old cable drums can find new uses as furniture, as could so much of the wood that gets so thoughtlessly thrown aside every day. Wood can be a very durable asset for anyone to make use of and the more we find ways to re-use it the fewer trees need be felled for fresh supplies. It takes centuries for some trees to develop and mature. Surely they should be left to do just that where possible.
Then we have the question of the drinks can. There can be as many recycling initiatives as there are stars in the sky but millions will still be thrown to one side by those whose thirst was sated. Such a waste, yet again, because these containers can also be re-employed in other roles; compacted and made into jazzy objects like those pictured here.
Skateboarders grow tired of their boards and chuck them out, but again there are those who can find a use for these, just as old TVs can be put together to fashion walls that teenagers would kill for.
Art also can benefit from the garbage that piles up around us. Murals can be fashioned from junk mail, and some enterprising designers even create temporary fashions out of garden weeds!
There are those who believe that raiding the trash containers on building sites will yield plenty of materials for house building. One man in the USA says that he has constructed the house below from 80% reclaimed builders’ garbage and that when it is finally finished he will have spent no more than £10,000 to build it. Cheap housing or what?
Maybe you want some place to live that really is out of the ordinary? A place that people cannot help but stop to stare at. Why not obtain yourself a de-commissioned aircraft? It's roomy and cheap to maintain, if you have the space to put it in the first place. Some entrepreneurs have even opened hotels using old planes.
Of course people sometimes have fun with old consumables – like this US tribute to Stonehenge laid out in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
The fact is that whether you are a sculptor, an artist, a carpenter or a designer, there will always be something useful to you personally among the stuff that you see being thrown out every day.
I do not advocate dumpster diving for any but the most dedicated, but when you think how much money you could be saving as well as the good you would be doing for the green future we all aspire to, perhaps you might give it some serious thought. Trash can very easily turn into treasure, if you go the right way about it.