The Thirty Minute Blogger

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Examining Wasted Resources in Abandoned Structures for Earth Day

Take a quick tour of the Internet and you can find stories about abandoned structures everywhere, ranging from houses to factories, penal institutions to hospitals. Driving through a city a while back, I passed a row of mansions long abandoned to rot in a former wealthy neighborhood.

In my last career, I edited several books on exploring urban ruins. I have to say, in the institutional settings, I was shocked to see the massive equipment still in place within the rotting structures. Massive metal furnaces, boilers, heavy machinery, and in hospitals large pieces of medical equipment that ... had they been removed and refurbished at the time ... would have been welcomed in struggling countries, despite their age. It is incredibly wasteful and I doubt we can afford that anymore. If we are trying to get oily residues from sand and shale, we might want to rethink leaving behind steel, iron, wood and more to rot. We should strongly consider for Earth Day this year how these materials could be recaptured and repurposed or recycled. Back during World War II, a portion of the 25 acre Stetson factory complex was scrapped to create a more streamlined factory system in Kensington, in Philadelphia. The papers reported that the steel from the scrapped structures, which was sent to the war effort, was the equivalent of numerous tanks or a battleship. At that point, you can be sure that steel was reused to keep the world free from Nazi rule.

It is time to take back the abandoned factories, hospitals, shopping malls, offices, and homes and remove their usable materials or repurpose the structures if they are fit for reuse with the equipment present. There are just too many of us and our resources are too limited to act as if we can simply use and discard anything and everything in favor of the newest model. It is past time to get serious on this issue.

Take a look at this site on abandoned shopping malls to get a taste of what disturbs me in our wasteful society. There are far too many useful materials present in these structures to leave them moldering away:

On a brighter note, I have also edited several books on reusing industrial structures and barns as beautiful and unique homes. Some of this work is being done, but we have a long way to go.

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