Making America Great Again - An Inexpensive Manhattan-Style Project Proposal

May 2019
18
10
Los Alamos
#1
Tues 6-11-19 8:19 a.m.

Problem: Americans are spending piles of money on imported items. Some items American manufacturing and jobs have suffered because workers in other countries can make products at a lower cost than American workers. The high cost of labor in the United States has come about due to a complex web of laws and regulations. Most people want a decent wage, clean air and water, fair competition, consumer protection, etc. The laws have lead to an exodus of manufacturing from America. In addition, manufacturing jobs (with their attendant skills) have been replaced by service jobs (often with lower wages, fewer benefits, etc.). The real loss is technical skills and critical thinking needed to run a complex technical economy. As the lower-priced, limited-life imports pour into America, other issues are planned obsolescence, "fad" items which go out of style, low-quality products, and worn out items which end up in landfills, salvage yards, and the environment.

So what can be done about it?

Discussion: I was at a local thrift store this week and noticed about ten Trivial Pursuits games on the toy / game shelves. In the past, I have also purchased cast-off toys at garage sales. I sorted, cleaned up, and packaged the toys and made them available to needy children in the State where I reside. What I found disturbing was the large number of McDonalds Happy Meal toys (made in China) which comprised the discard toy lots. Recently, I found one of the Happy Meal Toys on the street while I was out for a walk.

Our local EcoStation has been swamped with pallets, discarded furniture, bicycles, concrete rubble, glass bottles, exercise equipment, various types of containers, plastic bags / sheeting, yard trimmings, etc. Discarded autos and motorcycles go to salvage yards, etc. Metal, plastic, cardboard, paper, etc. can be recycled. However, there are many items which cannot be recycled (contamination problems, insufficient economic incentive). It also takes considerable energy to collect recycled materials and get them to a recycling facility. The recycled materials are converted into new products and distributed to retailers, customers, etc. which also requires more energy.

There is also the issue of food-contaminated waste items. For example, pizza boxes contaminated with grease cannot be recycled. However, I have found that if the grease-contaminated cardboard is carefully cut away from clean cardboard, then the clean cardboard can be recycled or made into something else.

I am a strong proponent of repurposing. Repurposing or reusing discarded materials can potentially save consumers quite a bit of money, it cuts down on waste going to landfills, reduces energy necessary to recycle discarded materials, and it turns consumers into rocket scientists. You have to be able to think outside the box to see what can be potentially be made from a discarded items.

Artists are pretty brilliant at developing uses for discarded items. My hat is off to them. However, artists create art and not necessarily utilitarian items which can compete with global products.

I have a strong interest in repurposing a broad spectrum of items and encouraging others to do the same.

During WWII, the Manhattan Project was developed to build the atomic bomb. The project was successful. The scientists who developed the bomb told me that they made a lot of mistakes and they tried everything. They were innovators.

So I challenge everyone in the United States of America to become an innovator when it comes to discarded items. Start out by taking a discarded item and writing down ten things which it can be made into using simple tools. Then try to fabricate some of the items on the list.

There have been at least a couple of contests in my community where people made clothing out of discarded materials (for example, potato chip bags). My wife said some of the creations were not very attractive. However, that need not be the case. I have seen some very attractive quilts made out of discarded cloth. Get the picture? There was also a contest to make a boat which would float down a local creek the fastest. The winner was a conglomeration of ping pong balls.

I feel so strongly about this that I am tempted to put up a modest amount of prize money as an incentive for reducing the amount of discarded items, fueling innovation, and having fun.

I worry about large items like furniture, skis, plastic film, ball-point pens, berry containers, packing strap, and a myriad of other items which might have a more useful future.

It may be necessary to disassemble some items (for example, furniture) into their components materials to permit reuse. At least this might be a move in the right direction.

I understand that the Europeans and their interest in a sustainable environment are doing something about recycling / repurposing discarded carpeting. This is what I call a clue.

Regards,

Moderatevoter451
 
Likes: a777pilot

Babba

Former Staff
Jul 2007
75,868
66,518
So. Md.
#2
I like your ideas. I'm not very creative myself, so I don't see myself coming up with imaginative ideas for repurposing stuff. I have redone furniture. In recent years I have tried to reduce the amount of stuff I throw away. I have a neighbor who lives alone and probably generates 3 bags of trash a week and doesn't recycle, whereas in our household of 3 adults we generate 1 bag of trash and a full recycling bin every week. We think carefully about what we throw away. We tend to donate items that are in decent condition that we no longer need.
 
Jan 2014
17,968
5,094
California
#3
Tues 6-11-19 8:19 a.m.

Problem: Americans are spending piles of money on imported items. Some items American manufacturing and jobs have suffered because workers in other countries can make products at a lower cost than American workers. The high cost of labor in the United States has come about due to a complex web of laws and regulations. Most people want a decent wage, clean air and water, fair competition, consumer protection, etc. The laws have lead to an exodus of manufacturing from America. In addition, manufacturing jobs (with their attendant skills) have been replaced by service jobs (often with lower wages, fewer benefits, etc.). The real loss is technical skills and critical thinking needed to run a complex technical economy. As the lower-priced, limited-life imports pour into America, other issues are planned obsolescence, "fad" items which go out of style, low-quality products, and worn out items which end up in landfills, salvage yards, and the environment.

So what can be done about it?

Discussion: I was at a local thrift store this week and noticed about ten Trivial Pursuits games on the toy / game shelves. In the past, I have also purchased cast-off toys at garage sales. I sorted, cleaned up, and packaged the toys and made them available to needy children in the State where I reside. What I found disturbing was the large number of McDonalds Happy Meal toys (made in China) which comprised the discard toy lots. Recently, I found one of the Happy Meal Toys on the street while I was out for a walk.

Our local EcoStation has been swamped with pallets, discarded furniture, bicycles, concrete rubble, glass bottles, exercise equipment, various types of containers, plastic bags / sheeting, yard trimmings, etc. Discarded autos and motorcycles go to salvage yards, etc. Metal, plastic, cardboard, paper, etc. can be recycled. However, there are many items which cannot be recycled (contamination problems, insufficient economic incentive). It also takes considerable energy to collect recycled materials and get them to a recycling facility. The recycled materials are converted into new products and distributed to retailers, customers, etc. which also requires more energy.

There is also the issue of food-contaminated waste items. For example, pizza boxes contaminated with grease cannot be recycled. However, I have found that if the grease-contaminated cardboard is carefully cut away from clean cardboard, then the clean cardboard can be recycled or made into something else.

I am a strong proponent of repurposing. Repurposing or reusing discarded materials can potentially save consumers quite a bit of money, it cuts down on waste going to landfills, reduces energy necessary to recycle discarded materials, and it turns consumers into rocket scientists. You have to be able to think outside the box to see what can be potentially be made from a discarded items.

Artists are pretty brilliant at developing uses for discarded items. My hat is off to them. However, artists create art and not necessarily utilitarian items which can compete with global products.

I have a strong interest in repurposing a broad spectrum of items and encouraging others to do the same.

During WWII, the Manhattan Project was developed to build the atomic bomb. The project was successful. The scientists who developed the bomb told me that they made a lot of mistakes and they tried everything. They were innovators.

So I challenge everyone in the United States of America to become an innovator when it comes to discarded items. Start out by taking a discarded item and writing down ten things which it can be made into using simple tools. Then try to fabricate some of the items on the list.

There have been at least a couple of contests in my community where people made clothing out of discarded materials (for example, potato chip bags). My wife said some of the creations were not very attractive. However, that need not be the case. I have seen some very attractive quilts made out of discarded cloth. Get the picture? There was also a contest to make a boat which would float down a local creek the fastest. The winner was a conglomeration of ping pong balls.

I feel so strongly about this that I am tempted to put up a modest amount of prize money as an incentive for reducing the amount of discarded items, fueling innovation, and having fun.

I worry about large items like furniture, skis, plastic film, ball-point pens, berry containers, packing strap, and a myriad of other items which might have a more useful future.

It may be necessary to disassemble some items (for example, furniture) into their components materials to permit reuse. At least this might be a move in the right direction.

I understand that the Europeans and their interest in a sustainable environment are doing something about recycling / repurposing discarded carpeting. This is what I call a clue.

Regards,

Moderatevoter451
Mr. Moderatevoter,

This is a long read, but interesting. It talks abut some of the subjects you broach. Specifically, the company mentioned uses every bit of scrape left over from their processes. If a pallet cannot be used, it is sent to the carpenters, they break it down, then it is repurposed as wood paneling and furniture.

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2007/03/mr-zhang-builds-his-dream-town/305616/
 
May 2019
18
10
Los Alamos
#4
I like your ideas. I'm not very creative myself, so I don't see myself coming up with imaginative ideas for repurposing stuff. I have redone furniture. In recent years I have tried to reduce the amount of stuff I throw away. I have a neighbor who lives alone and probably generates 3 bags of trash a week and doesn't recycle, whereas in our household of 3 adults we generate 1 bag of trash and a full recycling bin every week. We think carefully about what we throw away. We tend to donate items that are in decent condition that we no longer need.
Tues 6-11-19 9:35 a.m.

I ask you to think back to when you were a little kid. Maybe you drew on a piece of paper with a crayon, made mud pies, or cooked something special. Then you went to school. Somewhere along the way, you either saw someone who was really creative or some nit-wit instructor told you that you we not creative. Unfortunately, you believed them.

3M Corporation has a philosophy, "Never pour cold water on an idea. You don't have to agree with someone's idea, but don't pour cold water on it."

Inside of you is that little kid who experimented and learned about the world. I ask you to re-awaken that little kid in you who knew no bounds.

Think about the Renaissance, the ancient knowledge of the Greeks, etc. had been lost and then rediscovered. The artisans and builders at the time were learning to think and experiment again. They were like little kids.

I have faith in you.

Regards,

Moderatevoter451
 
May 2019
18
10
Los Alamos
#5
Mr. Moderatevoter,

This is a long read, but interesting. It talks abut some of the subjects you broach. Specifically, the company mentioned uses every bit of scrape left over from their processes. If a pallet cannot be used, it is sent to the carpenters, they break it down, then it is repurposed as wood paneling and furniture.

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2007/03/mr-zhang-builds-his-dream-town/305616/
Tues 6-11-19 9:48 a.m.

I have read the story about the Armour meatpacking industry years ago:

1) Bought a cow for $20. Sold the meat for $20. Sold the byproducts for $2. (Note: This spawned an entire industry devoted to making useful items out of meat byproducts.)
2) Counted profits in mils one thousandth of a cent. (Note: Multiply a mil by millions of cows and it starts to add up to something.)
3) Shipped meat products all over the place and fed a hungry Country.

Yes, you will learn about the down side of the meatpacking industry in you read Upton Sinclair. However, I do not see McDonalds going broke selling hamburgers. Historically, the USDA has also worked to protect our food supply.

You will read about meatpackers who have received cuts / gashes while working. There are now better Personnel Protective Equipment items (for example, gloves) which help to improve worker safety.

Regards,

Moderatevoter451
 

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