5 Ingenious Contraptions Built Out of Nothing But Garbage
Most of us aren't all that resourceful. If the futon we bought from IKEA is missing one of the tiny screws from the manual, we dial the 800 number and wait for them to ship it to us. But there are people who have built incredible solutions to some of life's most basic problems using stuff that you've thrown out because you thought it was useless. Here are five people who prove that calling anything else useless might be the most hypocritical thing you've ever said ...
Don't have the money for a bitchin' ride but live in the former USSR? No problem; you most likely have some sort of innate ability to turn garbage into mobile gold.
If there's one thing we learned from Napoleon and Hitler, it's that Russia is nothing but a hellish frozen landscape. It makes sense then that one of the Russian people's main pastimes is taking random junk and turning it into snowmobiles.
That unnamed retiree is dominating Mother Nature in his homemade snowmobile composed of old motorcycle parts, a carousel seat and even an old novelty coke bottle. The awesomely effective machine cost barely anything and took him less than a year to build. He's far from the only Russian to use garbage to kick the tundra's ass. Ever wonder what happened to that weightlifting bench Chuck Norris tricked you into buying, and everything else on TV tricked you into throwing out without ever using?
Why, a Russian built a snowmobile out of it, not to mention that inner tube you forgot to tie down while driving down the highway.
They even built snowmobiles using nothing but children's nightmares.
Snowmobiles are impressive and all, but what about Russia's many aspiring oligarchs? A Russian man living in Kazakhstan managed to build an entire Rolls Royce Phantom out of an old Mercedes, plaster and fiber glass. He spent a whopping $3,000 making a perfect replica of a $380,000 car. The only actual Rolls part was the emblem.
We be big pimpin' up in Nav-olo-ki.
Of course, snowmobiles and Rolls Royces are all things that you can buy if you have enough money. You'd think the same could be said for the man who took it upon himself to build a homemade Hummer. Again, using just scrap materials he managed to put together a vehicle that worked just as well as the original. Then he made it better. Check it out in action:
No we didn't include a picture from our tragic team vacation to the lake. That's the Garbage Hummer up there. You just can't see it because it is driving under freaking water.
Did we mention it can also drive through fire? Because it can also drive through fire. This may be the most badass car ever made, period, let alone one made out of garbage.
Your mom's to the right, hidden by foliage.
If you won the lotto, you'd probably take some kind of tropical vacation. If you won a lot, you might consider buying some beach-front property in the Caribbean or, following in the footsteps of Mel Gibson, buy a whole island just for yourself. Or you could simply use your newfound wealth to get you high enough to get the idea to build your own island, and keep you high enough to not realize how insane that idea was until it was done.
"We were 30 minutes into Waterworld, you passed me the bong, and that's the last thing I remember."
Meet, Raishee Sowa, a "carpenter, artist and musician," (aka serious hippie) who built an entire island off the coast of Mexico. Called Spiral Island, it was roughly the size of a basketball court and featured a two-story house, oven and washing machine. The whole island floated thanks to 250,000 plastic bottles. Sowa started out collecting bottles off the beach to trade in for cash and eventually thought what any rational human would in that situation: "I bet I could build a totally awesome self-sustaining island out of these."
Coincidently, Mexico had legalized marijuana earlier that year.
The Mexican government even recognized the island as part of the country and encouraged tourists to visit. But Sowa didn't want to be tied down in Mexico--in fact, he didn't want to be tied down ANYWHERE. The island also had its own steering system and his ultimate goal was to pilot his private island around the world, claiming it as a sovereign nation.
You might have noticed the use of the past tense. See, God doesn't appreciate it when you build something that took Him billions of years to make over the course of a stoned year and a half. Particularly when you decide to make it out of garbage, just to make sure He gets the whole "this is an affront to You" message loud and clear.
Sowa rips the nastiest guitar solo he's ever heard.
And so, in His infinite wisdom, He sent a hurricane to destroy Spiral Island. Sowa, not one to give up his dream of a tennis court-sized nation of hippies and waterfowl, immediately built another one.
A Smart House
OK sure, there are lots of houses made out of garbage. But those artists and architects are almost always using discarded building supplies to prove an environmental point. No matter what that creepy dude going through your garbage tells you, you would need just insane amounts of garbage to build something useful. Like 19 years worth. That's how long it took Tito Ingenieri to accumulate six million beer bottles. For the just under two decades that it took him to build up his collection, the folks living in his Argentinian town probably assumed Ingenieri was collecting bottles either because that appears to be every homeless guy's favorite pastime, or because he was too drunk to understand the dynamics of getting hammered.
To be fair to his neighbors, this is Tito Ingenieri:
"That's when I noticed I was always drunker when there were lots of empty bottles around."
Instead Tito built a house. Not content to simply make every beer can pyramid you built in college look like an (even more) embarrassing waste of time, he built a home for himself that was smarter than every house you've ever lived in.
Suck it, frat boys.
Before American college students try to solve their looming housing and drinking problems in one coma inducing step, we should tell you that Tito didn't drink all those beers. Instead, he noticed that many of the bottles he was gathering from the streets and bars of Quilmes, Argentina couldn't be redeemed for cash. Treating the town's alcohol consumption like Native Americans treated buffalo, he saved the non-refundable ones, and used the ones that were worth money to purchase building supplies he needed to turn the worthless ones into a concrete and glass fortress. Not a single one of the six million bottles he built his house out of is worth a single penny. He wouldn't want to seem, you know, wasteful.
Oh, and hubcaps. Mustn't forget the hubcaps.
As for the smart part, Tito built the house so that the southern winds make the bottles whistle, which gives him the heads up when the river is rising. And because his house didn't really have an environmentally friendly feel just yet, he also built sculptures out of trash to decorate the inside.
Despite all this awesomeness two questions remain unanswered:
1) Look at the floor. Why is a guy from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea watching you poop?
2) Is that the most inconveniently placed toilet paper holder, or do Argentinians mount their toilets backwards?
A Wi-Fi Network
Afghanistan has had a few infrastructure problems since being blown off the map in 2002. Education, access to fresh water ... these are the sorts of things that worried the average Afghan. The main worry for any Westerner out there was a bit more off the beaten path, namely: How fast is the Internet?
A decent Internet connection was one of the many plans for rebuilding Afghanistan. However, it definitely wasn't #1 on the list (remember that whole fresh water thing?) After a World Bank-funded project to bring Wi-Fi to the country took millions of dollars and many, many years to set up just one link, student volunteers from MIT said, "F#@k that noise," and began building a fully functional country-wide wireless network out of garbage.
The hub of cutting edge technology.
FabFi is built out of bits of plastic, wood and even cans. More than 25 live nodes are currently working in Jalalabad with more being built around the country.
Of course, where there is Internet there will be crackdowns. Thanks to the Afghan government, that lightning-fast, garbage-based Wi-Fi won't be able to stream any sites that have to do with gambling, alcohol or porn. Still, that leaves them like a quarter of the Internet to work with.
A windmill? We're seriously going to follow up drinking a house and a steerable island with a windmill? You wouldn't be asking such hypothetical questions if you'd met William Kamkwamba, who lives in the impoverished African nation of Malawi. In 2001, thousands of people in his country died due to drought and famine. Despite having virtually no schooling, the then 14-year-old Kamkwamba taught himself how to build a irrigation windmill out of whatever junk he found lying around in an effort to save his country.
This man is so much cooler than you.
When we say he taught himself, what we meant to say was that he went to the library and read a British book called Explaining Physics despite not really knowing how to read English. So step one of operation "Save my entire village" was combining your science and foreign language homework, except replace the part where you complain to your mom about making you do it, with voluntarily doing it in order to save your mom's life.
Feel awful yet? Great! On to step two! Next he went to the junkyard every day, picking up random stuff that sort of looked like the parts he saw in the diagram and began painstakingly assembling them into a giant windmill. Of course, painstaking has a different definition in Africa. He didn't have tools of any sort, not even a drill or a proper hammer. He had to bang the rusty nails he found with rocks until they got hot enough to burn holes into the pipes he was trying to drive them through. Like a cross between Captain Lou Albano and Don Quixote, Kamkwamba ran back and forth from his nail heating rocks to his pile of garbage that he claimed was going to be a windmill. While everyone in his village laughed at him, he managed to get enough nails hot enough to drive into enough garbage to build a windmill that saved all of their lives.
"Can you hear me saying, 'Told you so,' all the way down there? Because I could totally build a walkie talkie?"
Kamkwamba's windmill worked so well, even during droughts, that he was accused of witchcraft. It also provides enough energy to charge mobile phones, run radios and power the lights - no small feat in a country where only two percent of the population has electricity.
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For more people who lived in squalor but are still better than you, check out 5 Homeless Guys Who Accomplished Amazing Things. Or find out how you can craft your own booze, in Nectar of the Broke: The World's 5 Worst Ways To Get Drunk.
And stop by our Top Picks (Updated 05.19.10) to see the fort Jack O'Brien constructed out of his underwear.