Photos by Susan Conrad
With his new lease on life, Karl Conrad of Little Egg Harbor, N.J., has made a beautiful mark on waste reduction. Mr. Conrad, 70, decided to do something with the new vitality he gained after receiving his double-lung transplant in March 2008. With his doctor’s orders to drink more water to further improve his health, Mr. Conrad began drinking bottled carbonated water. He recognized the large amount of waste he was generating with his new carbonated water habit, so he began collecting the bottles. After six months, he had collected 646 plastic bottles. With his creative knack and his desire to divert these bottles from the landfill, Mr. Conrad made these bottles into a beautiful fence that sits in his yard in Ocean County, N.J. With 26 8-ounce bottles, 620 20-ounce bottles, 440 bolts and washers, eight wooden posts and 188 feet of wood, Mr. Conrad finished building his fence in August.
“I think the fence Grandpa made is pretty, and it helps everyone in the family, especially my dogs and my baby cousins – none of them can get out. Also, I think it is cool that Grandpa made a difference with our environment!” said Mr. Conrad’s granddaughter Emily, age eight.
As his daughter Susan Conrad explains, “He is always thinking about what he can do or how to make something out of things he already has.”Mr. Conrad’s plastic bottle fence is a great example of how things can be reused. The three R’s – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – are written in this order for a reason. First, we need to reduce how much we consume in the first place. Then, like Mr. Conrad, we need to find other uses for the things we already have. Finally, we need to recycle the materials that are accepted in our communities.
What other uses can you find for the items you use every day?