Regardless of the results at the polls, resist temptation to toss election signs in the trash.
Kent Peterson, a bicycle advocate and bike shop mechanic who manages Kent’s Bike Blog, harnessed the recycling potential of leftover political paraphernalia as a way to prevent puddles from splashing up at him as he tooled around the Pacific Northwest on a fold-up bike.
He devised a technique for building bicycle fenders with rigid plastic boards often used in political yard signs.
The project worked nicely enough to encourage him to adapt the idea for building other bike accessories. Peterson crafted bike bags for the handlebars and behind the seat out of old political signs – handy for stowing sunscreen, snacks and other necessities on road trips.
“It’s quite easy to work [with],’’ Peterson says. “It’s kind of like origami, in a way.”
Peterson occasionally holds workshops in the art, demonstrating how he reuses the corrugated plastic material that’s used for lots of front yard-type political signs. He cuts the sheets with a sharp craft knife or scissors into desired shapes and then stitches pieces together with nylon cable ties. On some items, he uses a more sophisticated technique involving scoring the plastic and folding it.
At previous workshops, participants adapted the idea to make other items, including a case for a ukulele and a bird house.
Cutting with a sharp knife or scissors is fairly simple, he says, if you aim the blade along the grain – the fluted pattern on the plastic.
Peterson’s ideas are among various ways to keep old signs out of the trash.
Because of the specific nature and materials used in campaign signs, various communities, such as Marion County, Oregon, offer special post-election recycling programs. The materials used in campaign signs vary, and may not be appropriate to mix with the regular recyclables. If you’re going to recycle, phone your recycling authority first to determine the guidelines.
Rather than recycle, some folks save the signs for their own use. Campaign signs can easily be repainted for other uses, like the promotion of a garage sale.
Or simply phone the candidate you supported and offer the sign back. Some candidates reuse their old signs the next time they run for office. In fact, some recycle-minded politicians may even reuse others’ old signs.
Homepage photo: Flickr/Curtis Gregory Perry