In the 1960s, some feminists railed against cultural norms and burned their bras to symbolize that they wouldn’t be controlled by the patriarchal society around them. Who knew they could have been pulling double duty by also providing valuable fuel to the world? And here I was upcycling my old bras as purses on Etsy! Ok, not purses, wallets…
Bras and well, pretty much any undergarments anyone wears, are the most useless items after they are worn out. And we do like to wear them out, don’t we? Well now there’s a new thought process when it comes to disposing of your bras. An underwear company named Triumph International in Japan is collecting old brassieres to use as boiler and power-generating fuel.
The company “provided free plastic bags in April and May at some of its stores nationwide,” writes The Japan Times, “Customers were encouraged to rummage through their wardrobes for old or unneeded bras and use the bags to take them to stores. Triumph also accepted bras of other brands.”
So how exactly does one make fuel out of a bra? Basically, any metals are removed and the rest is used for fuel.”The domestic industry calls it ‘refuse paper and plastic fuel (RPF),’ made of waste paper and plastic, including fibers,” writes TJT, “Compared with refuse-derived fuel made from household garbage, RPF, which is made from separated refuse, contains less impurities and water, the [Japan RPF Association] said. It also emits very little dioxin when incinerated. Moreover, it has a combustion efficiency comparable with coal and coke but generates less carbon dioxide. The association said RPF costs one-third or one-fourth as much as coal and demand for it as an alternative to fossil fuels is expanding.”
“While considering what we can do for environmental conservation, we came up with an idea that can also ease the anxiety among our customers,” a Triumph spokesman said. Why anxiety? Well, in most cities in Japan, garbage bags must be clear and females were either too embarrassed to have their bras seen or worried that individuals with certain persuasions would steal them for um, later use. The story cites a 2004 survey by the lingerie company Wacoal Corp. which found 61 percent of respondents hesitated to throw their bras in the garbage.
Triumph is setting a good example it seems, other Japanese companies are starting to follow suit.
Did you ever think you’d see the day when bras would be used for fuel? What do you do with your old bras?