Currently, I am bandsawing small planks, turning blanks and spoon blanks for future projects. Admittedly my storage areas look like I am a packrat. But the materials were either free or very cheap compared to buying plank stock in length and thickness for the work. Nothing goes to waste.
The materials are cherry firewood, found wood, and small logs that people gifted to me. The waste streams are sawdust, planer shavings, and lots of scrap wood. The sawdust gets composted, the planer shavings become mulch for the garden, and the scrap winds up in the stove.
At last, the wood ash then goes onto the garden. No waste.
One can only wish that all waste streams could be as efficient as this. And maybe that should be the target; to create materials that yield functional materials downstream from the original use.
Of course, I am not alone in converting waste into a product. Artists and craftspeople around the world do it all the time.
There were the lovely little cars I gave to my sons one year made from cut-up scrap tin cans. Or the earrings my wife received that looked like elaborately figured stone but were made in Africa from tightly wound scrap paper that was then varnished. One year a colleague gave me an ingenious gift from Melanesia. It was a sort of marionette made from cardboard egg containers. With practice, you could make it move sinuously across the floor. An outstanding Haitian artist I met turned scrapped sheet metal into elaborate sculpture using paint, saws and repoussé tool work.
The list is long enough to show the potential for downstream arts and crafts.
Here’s a picture of some pontils. A pontil is a waste object from glass blowing. I collected these from a glassblower I knew. I had, and still have, no idea of what I’ll do them, but they were too lovely to throw away.