When you focus on sustainable living, it becomes essential to understand how long it will take for some of the materials inside your home to decompose.
Food waste, for instance, makes up roughly 40% of household waste. Organic waste can decompose safely inside a compost container in your backyard. You can even use it in your garden to protect plants and nourish the soil. Organic matters, such as tree leaves, will need up to a year to decompose, but they can also go in your compost bin.
Other materials need to be recycled, such as paper or recyclable plastic.
But there is no one-way solution when it comes to complex materials, such as metal. Metal has been one of the most commonly reused materials throughout history. Our ancestors frequently melted old or broken metal pieces to create something new. So, historically, we know that there is more to metal than meets the eyes. However, it can be tricky to figure out how to use metal sustainably when it comes to everyday life.
Buy second hand
Unlike paper or organic fibers, metal can be extremely sturdy and long-lasting. It’s not uncommon for archeologists to discover screws, nails, and metal jewelry dating back several centuries. In other words, with the right amount of care, some types of metal can last for centuries!
Therefore, it makes sense to consider your metal purchasing habits. Some metal items can be safely purchased second-hand, such as:
- Copper sets for cooking (The French say you make the best soup in old pots, and we can see where they’re coming from)
- Metal parts for classic cars
- Specialist screws and nails for unique building needs
Recycle what you don’t need
It’s a no-brainer: Metal doesn’t decompose like other materials. Smaller metal pieces, such as tin cans, will gradually turn to rust and flake away into the air. However, metal is not biodegradable. Microorganisms don’t consume metal particles, which is why some pieces may never degrade even after 500 years.
However, you can consider reaching out to a scrap metal recycling center that is dedicated to processing the material effectively. As mentioned, metal can be reused safely with the right smelting process. Therefore, the old metal toaster that doesn’t work anymore could find a new life once you bring it to a specialist place.
Remember: As metal doesn’t naturally decompose, it should not end up in landfills. The presence of metal could change the composition of the soil and the air, affecting the local wildlife.
Upcycle what you can
There is more life in metal than what meets the eye. Upcycling enables you to inject new life into an object that is too old, damaged, or outdated to fulfill its original functions. Upcycling requires experienced DIY skills as you will need to transform the item into something new and unexpected. Needless to say, it is a favorite for creative DIY enthusiasts!
Metal upcycling projects typically include cutting, smelting, and cleaning old metal pieces. It’s important to understand that you will need specialist tools to upcycle former metal items. However, the possibilities are endless when you know what you are doing. Take of look at some of these beautiful creations by sustainable artists. From transforming an old radiator into a chair or creating musical instruments from decommissioned guns, there are plenty of elegant, stylish, and imaginative solutions.
Learn to care for your metal units
Metal objects are susceptible to rust formation. Most households tend to get rid of rusted metal because they are concerned about health risks. Rust can stain the skin; however, touching rust is not associated with any health hazard. Tetanus, which is commonly associated with rust, is not caused by the presence of rust. Tetanus is an infection that can find its way to your system through broken skin. A scratch from a rusty nail, for instance, will not cause Tetanus. Yet, the bacteria can be found close to rusty items.
Nevertheless, you can keep your metal items for longer with the right amount of care. Rust tends to develop in the presence of moisture and heat. Store your metal items in a well-ventilated environment and at a stable temperature. Ideally, metals should be kept away from materials that can give acidic vapors, such as wood. You might also find it useful to learn from experienced metalworkers how to care for different metals. Exterior metals, such as your garden gate or decorative features, should be frequently treated with lacquer, beeswax, or paint. Moving metal parts need to be lubricated with a specialist product to prevent rust and maintain functions. Finally, avoid chemical products that could be corrosive to the material.
Are you ready to make metal a part of your sustainable household? Metal requires the right amount of care, whether you wish to maintain it, dispose of it, or even transform it into something new.
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