It is a junk-erful life

7 Items made from junk

You may have seen the recent news that Adidas has designed a shoe that’s made almost entirely of trash from the ocean.

It may just be a prototype, with no plans for a line to go into production at this stage, but we have to admit that it got us pretty excited. And got us thinking!

At 1-800-GOT-JUNK? it’s our mission to divert waste from the landfill via means such as recycling, donating, up-cycling, and reusing. And if junk can be made into a shoe, what other unexpected items have a similar history?

A playground for the older crowd

Why not take the time to engage your inner-child? Created by sculptor Bob Cassilly and called City Museum, this interactive museum is located in St. Louis, Missouri.

Part children’s playground, part funhouse, part architectural installation, and part unusual tourist attraction, visitors to City Museum can climb, play with, and engage with different parts of the playground, which is made of mostly repurposed industrial materials and architectural objects.

Sustainable skateboards

Answering the challenge from Do the Green Thing and WWF UK, artist Mac Premo, in collaboration with Sanford Shapes, created a series of skateboards made from waste and repurposed materials.

The boards are called Bucket Boards, an unsurprising name seeing as the main material used to create the boards was five-gallon buckets, along with plywood.

Premo was just one of 15 artists asked to use creativity to promote sustainable living as part of this Earth Hour campaign.

Designer dresses

Created by boutique marketing company Glam PR Clothing, which is based in South Florida, these dresses are unique and environmentally friendly ways for brands to promote themselves and increase their outreach.

Dresses are exclusive and made to order, giving big (and small) brands a fashionable way to market their goods and services.

Handbags for humanity

Sold online by Australian store The Green Pavilion, these bags are produced by the women from the fair-trade studios in Sumatra, Indonesia.

The bags are not only eco friendly and stylish, they are created ethically, by women working in fair conditions with good income.

Bags are made from materials such as flowers, fried leaves, cans, tires, and fashion magazines.

Micro homes

Built from discarded items and junk such as sheet metal and old wooden cabinets, these small and pretty stylish shelters were created by Derek Diedricksen and are sold for a very affordable price.

You may not expect it, but the insides are luxurious for their size, and can include carpets and funky furnishings.

Musical instruments

This is an inspiring story – a musical youth group, which lives near one of South America’s largest landfills in Paraguay, built their own instruments from junk and discarded items.

From that garbage they create beautiful music, and this has helped them go on to be recognized on an international level. Known as the Recycled Orchestra, the instruments the kids play were made from junked items such as cutlery, coins, cans, trash cans, and wooden pallets.

Junk art

Artist Zac Freeman from Florida is dedicated to his art. His series of portraits of family and friends is truly a passion project, as each portrait can take him up to two years to complete.

The artwork is made from a range of junk, such as computer keyboards, bottle lids, and even lego.

The pieces are glued to a blank canvas, using a black and white photograph of the subject as a guide. One piece can have up to 5,000 bits of junk on it.


Protect your identity

While more people switch to paperless life, thanks to advancement of Internet, chances are you still go through a reasonable amount of documents containing sensitive information. This includes your bank statements, financial documents, tax returns, credit applications, receipts, and many others. 

Some people shred such documents diligently, others take their chances and recycle just like any other paper products. 

Personally, I’m a big fan of shredding anything containing my personal information, and I would advise you to do the same for these reasons:

Protect your identity from being stolen

In 2012, about 17 million US citizens over the age of 16 had at least one incident dealing with identity theft. Identity theft can cause financial problems, as criminals can open multiple accounts under your name and rack up charges. While the countermeasures do exist, it’s much easier to fight the problem at the source by shredding all such documents.

Protect your customers

If you own a business or deal with customers’ information at work, you are directly responsible for preventing your customers information falling into the wrong hands. When your customers give you their personal information, including social insurance numbers, addresses, phone numbers, and credit card info, they should be one hundred percent sure this information is safe and secure. If one of your customers runs into problems with identity theft, you might be found liable. There’s also a matter of damage to your reputation and lost business.

There are numerous laws and regulations regarding the protection of your customers’ information. If your customers entrust you with their information, you want to make sure you never compromise that trust.

You’ll save space

While keeping sensitive documents instead of simply throwing them out sounds like a great idea, over the years it might lead to dozens of banker boxes taking up precious space in your basement or your office. Consider freeing up some space by shredding all documents that are no longer necessary. Figure out which papers are safe to destroy and start shredding.


All shredding companies are required by law to recycle the paper after shredding. This makes it a great alternative to burning your documents or simply throwing them into garbage bin. Every metric tonne of paper being recycled saves 7,000 litres of water, saves between 17 and 31 trees, avoids using 4000KWh of energy, and prevents 60 pounds of air borne pollutants from being expelled into the atmosphere.

I’m a bit on the paranoid side, and shred everything that has my personal information.

Here is a list of documents you might want to consider shredding instead of throwing into garbage the garbage:

Tax returns

Photo IDs

Bank and investment statements

Voided and blank checks

Pay stubs

Documents containing your credit card information

Copies of sales receipts

Credit applications

Employment records

Any documents containing your name, address, phone numbers, dates of birth, social insurance number

Were you waiting for a chance to shred your documents? Well, the wait is over!

On Saturday, April 23rd, 1-800-GOT-JUNK? of Okanagan is hosting its Annual eWaste Disposal and Paper Shredding Event. This will be your chance to recycle electronics free of charge and also to shred all your sensitive documents right in front of you. 

Date and time: Saturday, April 23, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Location: Okanagan College, Kelowna Campus – 1000 KLO Rd. Kelowna, BC

Items accepted:

TVs and accessories

Computers and laptops along with computer peripherals

Kitchen appliances

Cables and batteries

And almost everything else with a power cable

Onsite paper shredding will be available by Okanagan Paper Shredding ($5/banker box)

We’ll also be accepting donations to Kelowna Food Bank. All proceeds will also be donated to KFB.

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Don't bogart that junk

Compulsive hoarding is a pattern of behaviour by people who are unwilling and/or unable to throw away the large quantities of household objects in their homes, to the point that it causes a significant amount of distress. 

While seemingly harmless in the beginning, hoarding slowly starts to affect individuals in a number of ways. It affects their relationships with friends and family, and can have a profound effect on living conditions in their house. As well, it can affect economically by burdening them with the extra expenses of supporting the behaviour. In extreme cases, it can cause health and sanitation concerns, along with higher safety risks.

On the surface, individuals suffering from this disorder can appear as simply unclean or disorganized, but it’s important to understand that in most cases hoarding is linked to emotional issues, and is not a choice to live that way. Sometimes it’s linked to emotional trauma, or loss in the family, and hoarding is simply one of the ways the mind chooses to cope. Nobody wakes up one day and decides to be a hoarder.

Hoarding also comes in many forms and fashions. For example, animal hoarding is recognized  as a subtype of a hoarding disorder. In this case, individuals acquire and house multiple animals in their home, often to the point of causing distress to the animals and harming their well-being. 

Food hoarders choose to hoard obsessive amounts of food - often enough to feed themselves for decades. 

Book hoarding is also viewed as a subtype of hoarding disorder.

I’ve encountered many hoarding situations. Being in the business of junk removal, hoarding projects sometimes pop up on our schedule. Generally it involves friends and relatives trying to help someone with a hoarding disorder by organizing a cleanup. Sometimes, though it’s too late – and we show up at a house in need of a cleanup up before being sold as a foreclosure.

We see houses stuffed with items that may or may not be useful. Items bought at nearby stores will by lying next to stacks of old Yellow Pages books collected over the years, along with newspapers, coupons, broken kitchen equipment, clothing, freebies, and random pieces of lumber. 

Often the items purchased are still in the original packaging, never opened, and still displaying price labels. Sometimes items are neatly stacked by type. Other times there are piles of items all over the house, with no rhyme or reason.

You’d be surprised by how neat hoarder houses can look from the outside. Just because somebody is a hoarder doesn’t mean their front yard will be littered with random items (though this happens as well). In my experience, a lot of hoarders limit themselves to the inside of their house, and maintain a great appearance outside. It’s when you step inside the house that you get to see beds filled with used clothing, and tubs overflowing with old newspapers.

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Weird junk

In the junk business, we’re often asked about the weird items we find on the job. The truth of the matter is, we mostly deal with boring junk on the job. Sometimes furniture, sometimes appliances, and sometimes construction debris, but just once in a while we come across something completely out of the norm. And sometimes it’s just hilarious what we find. 

Here is a list for your consideration. Hopefully it puts a smile on your face.

Gathering of the mannequins

Lots and lots of mannequins. Simply because we deal with a lot of retails locations, we do often come across mannequins. Sometimes our entire load is nothing but mannequins. Feels weird to have a full load of human-looking objects in the truck.


Let's go for a bike ride, no, let's mow the lawn, no, wait, I have an idea

This Frankenstein of an appliance was created in someone’s garage. While I find the engineering thought behind it simply revolutionary, I fail to see the practical side of it. Then again, I’m a fan of old-fashioned people-powered bikes.


Full truck of beer, party time

The bad news is, it was all expired. The good news is, it was just Bud Light.


Hush, puppy: giant dog bone

I don’t know what would possesses somebody to create such a thing, but then again it’s not the weirdest thing we’ve seen on the job. Sometimes people are just very passionate about something, and want to show it in everyday life.


A bucket of kittens

While cleaning out a foreclosed property, one of our teams in Australia came across a bucket of kittens. The kittens were in poor shape and starving, but were immediately provided food and water, then dropped off at a local shelter and adopted shortly after.

Other items that didn’t make the list include John Wayne’s bible, giant cell phone, doughnut costume, twelve foot statue of Jesus, working volcano model, and an illegal shipment of cigarettes.

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More Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! articles

About the Author

Yoree Grozenok owns and operates 1-800-GOT-JUNK? in Kelowna, part of world's largest junk removal company. Years of operating this great business has given him wealth of knowledge and experience in recycling.

While other companies think of recycling as a 'nice thing to do', Yoree Grozenok built his business with recycling in mind from the very beginning. Not only is every effort made to recycle obvious items like scrap metal or cardboard, but the goal is set to recycle up to 80% of items picked up. They also recycle through donating items to charities or Kelowna Food Bank. All recycling efforts are tracked and publicly available for greater accountability.

Yoree Grozenok also started an annual eWaste recycling event that takes place each April in an effort to divert electronic waste going to the landfill. This drive give residents a chance to recycle their televisions, computers, and other electronic junk.

1-800-GOT-JUNK? was nominated for Green Business award through SIFE Okanagan.

Contact: [email protected]

Website: www.1800gotjunk.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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