Chapter 28



The American People Waste More Fortunes than Other Nations Make—The Shoreditch Experiment in England—The Tonner System of Germany—Millions in Ashes—Coal Fortunes Waiting to be Picked Up—Astonishing Possibilities in Irrigation—Tons of Tin Thrown Away Every Day—$5,000,000 Lost in Sulphur Every Year—A Fortune Waiting a Stovepipe Inventor—Enormous Waste of Gold and Silver.

The American nation is a wasteful one. Every year by neglect, poor economy and extravagance, material is lost which if saved would be enough to make many people rich. There are fortunes in ashes, garbage, sewage, and cinder piles. Why explore new fields when the old is yet unworked? Here are a few ways in which capital can be expended with a certainty of quick and large profits:

  1. Waste of Sewage.—The wasteful methods of civilization cause the destruction of by far the most valuable of all our fertilizers, which passes out of our sewers into the sea, and is lost. It is estimated that the amount in New York City alone is worth over $5,000,000 yearly. In Germany, what is known as the Tonner system saves this richest of fertilizers; and the time is ripe for some one in this country to save this enormous waste and make himself many times a millionaire in the Book of Wealth.
  2. Waste of Coal Ashes.—Two hundred million tons of coal are consumed annually in this country. About one-half of this amount goes to ashes. It is safe to say that, after all the cinders and slag have been sifted out, there are still 100,000,000 truck loads which are worse than wasted, as they threaten to hinder the free navigation of our harbor. Coal ashes have a value as a fertilizer. Even at the cheap price of twenty-five cents a load, we have an aggregate of $25,000,000 lost by this careless waste. The time will come when some enterprising firms, with means for collecting and distributing this refuse, will make fortunes by its sale to farmers and gardeners.
  3. Waste of Garbage.—Shoreditch, population, 124,000, a borough of London, by a new system for the disposal of garbage, called the Dust Destructor, saved in one year $11,000, or enough to defray the expense of its electric lights. What formerly cost eighty cents a ton for barging, is now done by the new system for thirty cents. In New York City (not the Greater New York) the number of truck loads last year was 1,582,287, and it is estimated that a similar system, in place of the one which now costs the city ninety-four cents per load, would save $712,132, equivalent to the interest at six per cent. on a capital of $11,868,675, or more than sufficient to light the whole of Manhattan Island.
  4. Waste of Sulphur.—Attention has recently been called to the enormous waste of sulphur which is going on in the copper furnaces of Western mining towns. It is said that the annual waste is 128,000 tons. The price of sulphur is $32 a ton. Where is the man who will stop the pouring out of this vast quantity of poisonous vapor upon the atmosphere, save the enormous waste of valuable material, and make for himself a gigantic fortune? The lists are open.
  5. Waste of Tin.—Thousands of tons of tin cans are daily thrown in the rubbish heap. It is believed that by treatment of sulphate the tin may be recovered and again utilized. It is a question whether the same amount of money now invested in tin mines, if put to this novel use, would not be the better paying investment. It is estimated that there are two cents’ worth of tin in an average-sized can. Cans could be collected at a cost of fifty cents per hundred, or $5,000 per million. If we estimate the chemical process of recovering the tin at as much more, the total cost would be $10,000 per million cans. Worth of the tin recovered at two cents per can, $20,000. Profits, 100 per cent.
  6. Waste of Heat.—In our present systems of heating, from one-fourth to one-third of the heat passes up the chimney and is lost. Could not some method be perfected, by which this could be saved? It would be a great boon to the poor, who need to save every pound of coal, if this could be done. We suggest as one plan a stovepipe radiator—two pipes, open at top and bottom, traversing the vertical leg of the smoke-flue, by means of which the air of the room shall be taken in at one end and sent out at the other. There are at least 100,000 apartments heated by steam. A system which will add one-fourth to the heat of these rooms will be a material blessing. There should be millions in the invention.
  7. Waste of Land.—Judge Emory, at a recent irrigation convention, stated that the arid and semi-arid lands of the United States are one-half as large as all our domain, except Alaska. It is estimated that good homes, fit for 75,000,000 to 150,000,000 people, could be made by irrigation. This system is yet in its infancy. In a few years hundreds of millions of dollars will be invested in making our desert lands “blossom as the rose,” but like all other enterprises, first on the field will be the first in fortune.
  8. Waste of Gold, Silver and Iron.—The present clumsy methods of extracting the ore of metals must soon be superseded by a more economical system. To say that there are $100,000,000 worth of gold and silver in the refuse piled up around the mines would be much beneath the actual figures. The loss in iron and other metals, owing to the same cause, is utterly incalculable. The recent discoveries in magnetism point to the solution of the problem and the utilization of the waste. It is not impossible that the electro-magnet contains more gold for its fortunate inventors than all the mines of the earth will yield to operators during a single year.

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