Science project ideas using recyclable materials

Written by erik devaney
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Science project ideas using recyclable materials
(Erik Snyder/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Through the use of recyclable materials, people can help reduce the consumption of natural resources, the energy used to process and dispose of those resources and pollution, as recycling reduces that amount of trash that accumulates in landfills and other areas. Conducting a science project on recyclable materials can help you learn more about the recycling process and may help you innovate new recycling ideas.

Recycling Recycled Paper

While you could recycle non-recycled paper using the same paper-recycling process, this would preclude the project from using 100 per cent recycled materials. So, start by purchasing some recycled paper -- if you do not own some already -- and cut some sheets of the paper into several small pieces. Soak the paper in a container of water overnight and then run the pieces through a blender filled with warm water. The resulting pulp should have an oatmeal-like consistency. Pour the recycled paper pulp on to a plastic screen that is stretched across a wooden frame. The water will eventually drip from the pulp through the screen and you will be left with a sheet of recycled paper on top.

Eco-Friendly Composites

The purpose of this science project is to explore eco-friendly alternatives to plastics by using natural and recyclable materials. While some forms of plastic can be recycled, others cannot, which is why an eco-friendly composite material would be beneficial. For a base substance you will need the organic solvent acetone, in which you can place a variety of test materials, such as hair, onion skins, flax and hemp fibres. Once the resulting composites -- known as cellulose acetates -- solidify, compare their sturdiness to determine which material works best.

Coffee Grounds Gardening

For this project you will need three test containers that contain the same quantity and type of soil as well the same species and size of plant. Keep the containers in the same location and water them with the same frequency. The only variable in the project will be the substances you use to treat soil surrounding the plant. For one of the plants, use a traditional, chemical-based fertiliser, while for another use coffee grinds: the recyclable leftovers from a coffee-machine. The final plant will serve as your control and does not require treatment. Observe the plants over several days and weeks to determine if coffee grinds are a suitable recyclable fertilising alternative.

Greywater Gardening

Greywater refers to the leftover, dirty water that appliances like washing machines and dishwashers produce. As a science project, you can determine if greywater, which would otherwise enter into a sewage system, can be an adequate recyclable alternative to fresh water for watering plants. Set up two containers with same quantity and type of soil as well the same species and size of plant. Water one plant regularly with freshwater and the other with greywater and observe plant growth and health to determine if greywater is functional for gardening.

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