Pierre & Leon Cohen

Think your car is good? Your car is garbage. I mean it’s literally garbage — U.S. car companies use discarded cardboard, carpets, jeans, tires, and even money to make car components. Fast Company breaks down which trash goes where:

  • Money: Ford plans to recycle some of the U.S. paper money that gets shredded (3.6 million pounds a year!) into plastic for car trays and bins.
  • Carpets: When broken down, carpet fiber can be made into plastic, which Ford then uses to make engine head covers for Escapes, Mustangs, and F-150s. Ford has turned 4.1 million pounds of carpet into parts, which helped it cut petroleum use by 430,000 gallons in 2011.
  • Soybeans: Ford uses oil from soybeans to produce stuffing for upholstery. That’s another substitute for petroleum, which is a component in styrofoam.
  • Jeans: Scrap denim — 25 million pounds of it a year — is used as insulation in Ford Escape dashboards.
  • Tires: GM reprocesses tire rubber into air baffles (which sit near the radiator) and water baffles (at the base of windshield wipers).
  • Cardboard: Cardboard isn’t just for covering your windows when your car gets broken into. It’s also used in ceilings in the Buick Lacrosse — a move that helped the company save more than 15 tons of carbon last year.
  • Oil-soaked containment booms: Talk about making lemons into lemonade. Chevy took the booms that were put in the Gulf to contain the BP oil spill, and turned them into a slurry used to make Volt air deflectors.

So if you’re feeling bad about driving, since it’s not so great for the Earth, take heart: At least you’re driving around in a pile of trash.