Kicking Can

By: Christina Motilall

Boy sits in chair made of used soda cans.

A throne of recycled cans

After a hard day’s work, it is important to go home and put your feet up. Maybe even pop the tab on your favorite soft drink and relax a bit. But what if you took your empty can and added it not to your recycling bin, but to your home décor?

This is the idea behind Franklin Middle School student Samuel Roman’s Pop Can Chair.

Samuel built the chair out of pop cans for ‘Use or Lose it!” an ‘upcycling’ competition sponsored by an EPA research laboratory in Oregon. ‘Upcycling’ means taking objects normally seen as trash and making something new and practical out of them.

In this case, Samuel used pop cans (472 to be exact) that he collected from recycling bins in the neighborhood. He assembled the cans with hot glue and rubber bands, making a seat fit for an environmentally-aware king.

When asked why he decided to take on this project, Samuel said “I chose to make a chair out of cans because it is useful.” And he couldn’t be more right. The option to reduce waste by reusing items is a very useful opportunity at our disposal. As a bonus, it also has economic value.

Samuel figured this out from the chair’s inception though, noting his chair’s utility when saying “You don’t have to go to the store and buy a very expensive one. You can just make your own by collecting cans.”

Recycled trophies

Three outstanding projects were awarded trophies made of recycled materials.

Samuel’s chair is environmental-conscious and economical. No wonder it was named an Outstanding Project by judges at a reception hosted at EPA. Samuel received an ‘upcycled’ trophy and recognition by local leaders such as Corvallis, Oregon mayor Julie Manning and EPA lab director Tom Fontaine.

But the most important thing I am sure is on everyone’s mind is… how do I get one of these chairs? The answer may already be in your recycling bin.

About the author: Christina Motilall is an intern for the Office of Research and Development’s Science Communications Team.