Rethinking Waste: New Life to Old Fire Hoses

Rethinking waste is truly one of my favorite subjects in sustainability.  Fundamentally, waste doesn’t have to exist. It is simply a matter of rethinking of the item as a resource and find new uses for the material.

When we are called into a company to talk about waste  and zero-waste clients are often surprised just how much money they “waste” annually in purchasing unused items, excess packaging, and unnecessary shipping costs, but also in disposing of items and all their packaging.   This will be a topic of one of our next posts. we get interesting requests for ideas on rethinking/ repurposing specific items.  Today’s request was from a city in California whose fire department is retiring fire hoses and doesn’t want to junk them.  1,000ft  5inch standard canvas/rubber type fire hoses to be exact.   What an interesting and fun challenge.

A while ago we wrote about some eco-preneurs in the UK making handbags, belts, and now cufflinks out of the old British Fire Brigade hoses.  They are still apparently quite the trendy thing. Since then there have been several outfits around the world refurbishing them into accessories. A mom&pop operations in Chico, CA is making bike messenger bags and other bags from forest fire hoses – ZeekoSalvage

We did a quick brainstorm followed by a google search for gucci bag classic check out here. Here’s some of the ideas we came up with.
  • Propose a project with the city universities’ business or environmental sustainability programs to come up with a way to repurpose and make a profit and ultimately donate x% of profits to the fireman’s fund or the city fire department.
  • Play swing seat replacement – Contact the city facilities or parks department and perhaps a local boy scout troop (eagle scouts always need interesting community service projects) to create replacement swing seats for the city’s parks and recreation department. Who knows it could develop into a business venture.
  • Inquire at local marinas if they need dock bumpers (to line the docks to protect the boats).
  • Partner with a zoo or big animal wildlife habitat to create pull/play balls for tigers, elephants, etc. Here’s how to make them.
  • Decorate a child’s room who is in love with firetrucks/people. (wrap a stool, cover a wall, make a pillow, or create a ladder for the bunk bed.
  • Local gyms could use them as a conditioning exercise (video)
  • You could always sell them on ebay or craig’s list and recover some money for the city. Here’s a conversation thread about a guy who did that
  • These guys in Richmond, CA sell hoses and their blog is full of alternative uses for them and how-to guides.
  • Make awesome hammocks for yourself, dog or big cat.

Can you think of more? We’d love to hear from you. If you have an actual need and/or interest in 1,000ft 5inch fire hoses contact us and we’ll put you in contact with the individual coordinating these project.

This article is part of the Rethinking Waste series at Opportunity Sustainability

Copyright ©2012 Matthew Rochte, Opportunity Sustainability℠ – Share with attribution

Opportunity Sustainability℠ is a Midwest-based sustainability and corporate social responsibility consulting firm specializing in green innovation and seeing opportunities where others see burdens. Matthew Rochte LEED AP,  an experienced, operations-based sustainability director, works with company management to navigate and realize the opportunities in taking their company green and growing sustainably.

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  • Adam Hoffman

    I was just searching the internet for ways I can get some fire hose, used or otherwise, so I can start making some toys for my pets and my friends’ pets and stumbled upon your article. Never even thought of some of the other uses you guys had, and would love to try them out. I noticed you have a way to get into contact with people distributing used hoses, I’d love to take some off their hands and start working a few of my own projects!

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