Guest Post: Three Vehicles Made from Recycled Materials

This is a guest post from Lorna Li, Editor-in-Chief of Green Marketing TV, Entrepreneurs for a Change, and Lifestyle Design Artist, discussing the benefits of three vehicles designed and built with entirely recycled materials.

Recycling is a very planet-friendly practice. Instead of dumping things into a landfill so they can slowly biodegrade and leak toxins into our soil and water, recycling breaks things down into their original materials, and puts those materials to use in new products.

Although recycling might make us feel good about ourselves, it’s very rare that we get to enjoy the direct result of our planet-friendly behavior. The glass, plastic, and paper that we dutifully haul to the curb in recycling bins gets shipped far away, often overseas, to be made into new products that we may never use.

Some creatively-inclined people like to take charge of their own recycling process, however. Instead of leaving it up to a large recycling company to reuse their recyclables, they come up with innovative ways to combine those materials into products they can use right away.

Like a vehicle.

Read on for three examples of functional vehicles made from recycled materials:

Picture: Brunei Times

  • Pahlawan One: In order to develop a cleaner, more efficient vehicle, you need funding—lots of it. Extra money wasn’t available for engineering students at the INSTITUT Teknologi in Brunei, so they decided to cut costs by utilizing recycled materials, like used car and motorcycle parts, instead. Dubbed the “Pahlawan One,” the resulting vehicle features an aerodynamic shape that helps to reduce wind friction and conserve energy. Proving that you don’t need a solar lease to take advantage of energy supplied by the sun, the car is fitted with solar panels that divert excess energy to the batteries, so that the car can be used in cloudy weather as well.

  1. Picture: Purdue University

  • Solar Powered Motorcycle: Most people know that motorcycles get better gas mileage than cars or trucks, but a penny a mile? That’s the mileage Purdue student Tony Coiro enjoys now that he finished upcycling a 1978 Suzuki that cost him $50 into a solar-powered vehicle that has a top speed of 45 mph. Because it uses solar cells to charge its lead acid batteries, the bike is completely silent, an experience Coiro likens to riding a magic carpet.

Picture: Kristin Rule

  • Mechanarchy Watt-Bot: Few people are brave enough to set out on a cross-country road trip, and even fewer are strong enough to make that trip by bicycle. Late last year, Australian musician Kristin Rule set out to tour the Land Down Under with nothing else but her cello and a recycled solar-powered, electric-assist bicycle trailer known as the Mechanarcy Watt-Bot. When the sun is shining bright, the trailer’s 30 watt solar photovoltaic panel stores electrical energy in a pair of 12 volt batteries. Then, when facing a particularly large hill, Rule simply engages the bike’s motorcycle-style hand throttle and receives a generous boost of pedaling energy. Even better, the trailer can also double as a power generator whenever Rule decides to give an impromptu concert on the street or in a field.

Lorna Li is the Editor-in-Chief of Green Marketing TV, Entrepreneurs for a Change, and Lifestyle Design Artist. She specializes in Internet marketing for socially responsible business and enjoys writing about green business, social enterprise, and location independent lifestyle. Follow @lornali on Twitter.


Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.