Americans are good at recycling, and anyone living in a rural area is even more motivated to recycle to reduce trash fees. Those of us who sell scrap metal or do aluminum recycling also know there are cash benefits. But recycling is only a part of the sustainable equation.
To make recycling economically viable we must “close the loop” and buy recycled. We’ve all seen recycled toilet paper and paper towels in the market, but there are many more items we can buy.
Into leather? Some years ago Southwest Airlines decided to reduce their fuel consumption so they got rid of leather upholstery because of its weight. Looptworks purchased the 80,000 leather seat covers, and have been making beautiful purses, wallets, computer cases, and backpacks under their “Flight Collection” brand.
Moving Comfort has figured out how to make discarded coffee grounds into yarn, which they weave into fabrics used in an active wear collection. You can technically drink coffee and dress in it too.
PET is short for polyethylene terephthalate, the most common thermoplastic polymer resin of the polyester family used in clothing fibers and plastic bottles. Dakine takes recycled plastic bottles and makes backpacks, duffle bags, totes, tablet computer bags, and carry-ons.
Several brands of kitty litter are made from recycled newspapers. Just look on the bag and look for “made from post-consumer recycled materials.”
Durable “plastic lumber” is made mostly from recycled plastic. It’s guaranteed for 50 years, is maintenance free, and allows for use of normal wood-working tools. It is the number one choice for kid’s playground equipment, and ideal for the construction of decks.
The next container of berries or eggs you grab at the grocery store may have started as old newspapers— so buy those and avoid the Styrofoam containers.
Plastic toothbrush handles now sometimes come from recycled yogurt cups. Don’t worry, the bristles are always new. Or look to buy bamboo toothbrushes.
Volcom makes 100% recycled women’s swimwear from worn-out commercial fishing nets and other nylon factory scrap. They’re a beautiful, durable, and wonderfully sustainable choice.