Usually not a lot but read on…
Back in 1971 when Sony introduced the VCR – Video Cassette Recorder – it seemed like an amazing advancement in technology. The introduction of videos, pre-recorded or otherwise, some 40+ years ago, was the ‘must have’ technological advancement of the day bringing films to the masses in the comfort of their own home. Fast forward to the present and you can now access information, your favourite film, new or old, on any number of digital systems be it computer, TV, smart phone or android and watch any amount of TV using ‘catch up’ technology that allows the capture and storage of digital information on a scale with few limits.
So in the age of now redundant video recordings, what do we do with millions of video tapes still being harboured in a great many homes? Not a lot! It seems as they are now one of the most difficult household waste items to dispose of – at least 1.5 bn of them. Hats off then, to the University of Brighton who have managed to incorporate around 4,000 video cassettes into Britain’s first house made entirely of rubbish. If not exactly rubbish, then at the very least, materials that had no viable outlet and were destined for landfill regardless of their potential ‘value’.
The live research programme being carried out by the University is a test bed for, amongst other things, the properties of insulation qualities, hence the videos and also 20,000 toothbrushes – waste from long haul flights that might otherwise have ended up in landfill or the sea. Students, apprentices, local builders, school children and volunteers were all involved in building the house using some materials rescued from construction waste such as concrete blocks, timber, ply, but also oddities like vinyl banners, pieces of polystyrene and bicycle inner tubes. The kitchen worktop is made of old coffee cups and grinds, the staircase from compressed thrown away paper and the lights had a previous life on board an old ship about to sail to the scrap yard in Bangladesh. Chalk waste was used to create a chalk wall with the intention of being able to store passive solar energy contributing to the overall energy efficiency of the building.
The outside of the building is eye catching although possibly not for the right reasons. 2,000 redundant office carpet tiles placed with the waterproof underside facing outward create a shingled effect. Beauty is in the eye perhaps…
The house has been built as a project in part to show what can be done using recycled materials and with a view to achieving Passivhaus standards, with temperature and humidity monitored through sensors in the house. It’s also thought provoking in the sense of what might be done with waste in the future and how much there is that we don’t generally recycle, simply because as with the video cassettes, we don’t know how or where. In the UK we throw away about a million tonnes of electrical goods every year often putting hazardous substances as well as electrical material into landfill.
We’re not sure we’d want to live in the Brighton house or even how long it will last but it’s a great concept and gives rise to the idea that the future needs to REDUCE, REUSE and RECYCLE a whole lot more!