Do Sustainable Plastics Exist?

Day 263Better Future Factory believes they do and they want to help brands and businesses reduce, reuse and recycle plastics. They believe that a circular economy for plastics can exist.

Their services include:

  1. By gaining insight into your current plastic use, they find out how to make your products and packaging future proof.
  2. They help you to build an actionable plastic strategy for the years to come.
  3. They design & engineer new or redesign existing products and packaging, fit for the circular economy.
  4. They make the circular economy tangible by creating iconic products from discarded plastics.

Their mission is to have no more plastic wasted.

The categories in which they have done work include:

  1. Artwork
  2. Consumer Products
  3. Furniture and Retail
  4. Packaging Design

They have made artwork from old file folders. They developed the perfect packaging for Packback, a Dutch start-up revolutionizing the home delivery and take-away market with a reusable packaging system. Packback takes the packaging back, cleans it and brings it back in the loop. As experts in plastics recycling they pushed their skills to go bigger and they 3D-printed a set of stools, a bar table and a reception desk from recycled PET bottles. They were then placed in the entrance hall of an office building in Rotterdam, Netherlands. They worked with Erno Lazlo (New York based skin-care brand) to develop their Clean & Sustainable 2020 initiative for packaging. The first sustainable improvements have been implemented and available for customers, e.g. a soap bar wrapped in paper instead of a plastic box, a reusable soap dish made from the old soap bar plastic boxes and a fully recyclable cap for their iconic jars.

Better Future Factory exists to help the plastic waste problem. More companies need to recognize the problem and start to take responsibility for the products they produce for consumers.

Tomorrow, zero emissions day.

Green Circle Salons: Creating Beauty, Not Waste

Day 248Green Circle Salons is a Certified B Corporation and they offer to help salons go green.

They provide services that will help salons do the following:

  1. Recycle and repurpose up to 95% of your salon’s beauty waste including hair clippings, used foils, color tubes, excess hair color and more.
  2. 84% of salon guests care about a salon’s environmental impact. Grow your business while being an industry leader and making a difference.
  3. Get help setting up a simple revenue-building program that supports environmental sustainability as well as financial sustainability.
  4. Use additional revenue to invest in environmentally friendly technologies, which conserves energy, reduces waste, and saves you more money.

You may not think about the waste produced by hair salons, but it is substantial.

  1. 63,000 pounds of hair gets thrown away every day.
  2. Over 42,000 pounds of excess hair color, lightener and toner is thrown away every day. When rinsed down the drain, it can find its way back into our drinking water and soil.
  3. Over 110,000 pounds of used metal, including hair foils, is thrown away every day in salons in North America.
  4. Single use items – like nail files, waxing strips and cotton swabs – make up a large portion of beauty waste that ends up in our landfills.
  5. More than half the waste thrown away in salons is paper and plastic. If not properly recycled, these items clutter our landfills.

Since 2009, Green Circle Salons have been able to keep close to 8 million pounds of beauty waste from entering the landfill.

To find a salon that is putting the environment first, click HERE.

Tomorrow, a sustainability expo coming your way.

Looptworks: Upcycled Fashion

Day 240 – The word upcycle was first used in the early 1990s. Upcycling is defined as the reuse of discarded objects or material in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original. Today, upcycling is more popular then ever. We are running out of space to put our trash. So, we need to find ways to reuse our stuff and get a second and possibly a third life out of them.

We now have companies that upcycle materials to create new products for resale. Looptworks is one of those companies. They are a Portland, Oregon based business that re-purposes and upcycles abandoned, pre-consumer and post-consumer materials into limited edition products.

“All the materials used to create Looptworks products at one time were headed to the landfill, or worse. We intercept and utilize these industry excess materials, transforming them into new, useful products — a process known as upcycling. Our sustainable, eco-friendly products are made in limited editions, and in the process save materials from landfills or incinerators.” – Looptworks

Looptworks has collaborated with numerous companies to create new products from discarded materials.

  1. They have partnered with professional kiteboarder and swimsuit entrepreneur Sensi Graves. Their bags are designed from pre-consumer excess kiteboarding kite material.
  2. They partnered with the NBA to give a second life to all those game jerseys that become obsolete. They created backpacks and crossbody bags.
  3. They partnered with Southwest Airlines when they replaced their heavy leather airline seats with a lighter weight material. Southwest Airlines wanted to ensure that the journey didn’t end for 80,000 leather seat covers. Looptworks upcycled the seat leather into the In Flight Collection.
  4. Looptworks partnered with Patagonia to upcycle retired Patagonia fly fishing waders. The result is an insulated wine carrier and Tate lunch bag.

Looptworks is always looking for new partners and the possibilities are endless. I look forward to seeing what new and improved products they will create from materials that were once on their way to the landfill.

I almost forgot to mention, Looptworks is a Certified B Corporation!

Tomorrow, glass recycling.

Yoga Mats Made from Recycled or Renewable Materials

Day 237 – Many yoga mats are made from PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride). Back on Day 179, I wrote about the harmful effects of PVC and its potential to lead to health issues. So, you can bet having a yoga mat made from PVC is not a wise choice. Here are a few examples of yoga mats made with safer and earth friendly materials. One brand is made from natural rubber, another natural cork and a third, recycled wetsuits.

Jade Yoga

Jade Yoga is the first brand in the US that makes yoga mats with natural rubber. When harvested sustainably, natural rubber is a renewable material that can decompose at the end of life. Jade Yoga provides tips for properly recycling / upcycling old yoga mats. Jade Yoga plants a tree for every yoga mat they sell—so far, they’ve planted more than two million trees with their partnership with Trees for the Future. They also have a Community Partners program where people who generally don’t have a chance to try yoga can receive a grant to do so.

Urbivore

This mat is made from a thin layer of natural cork on top of a natural rubber backing—both are biodegradable and renewable materials. Cork is naturally antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal, which means it requires minimal maintenance and won’t give off a bad smell. Cork is made from the bark of cork oak trees, mostly grown in Portugal. A cork oak tree stripped of its bark can absorb more CO2 in the regeneration process, so it actually helps combat climate change.

Suga

Suga recycles wetsuits into yoga mats. The name Suga comes from the combination of the words “surf” and “yoga”. Suga has diverted 12,500 wetsuits from the landfill. Not only are the mats made from recycled material, but they are also recyclable. When you are done with your old mat, you can send it back to Suga to make new ones. Suga mats are made in the US.

The next time you are in search of a new yoga mat, consider how healthy the mat is for you and the planet.

Tomorrow, celebrating the dogs.

Bus Stops for the Bees

Day 236 – A city in the United Kingdom has come up with a rather genius way to help the declining bee population. The city of Leicester has begun to replace their traditional bus stops with what they’re calling Living Roof bus shelters, nicknamed “Bee Bus Stops.” The green roofs will be solar-powered and topped with pollinator gardens, filled primarily with a mix of wildflowers and sedum plants (hardy, drought-tolerant succulents with thick, fleshy leaves) to attract bees and other pollinating insects.

Leicester’s network of living roof and solar-powered bus shelters will be the first in the UK. In addition to supporting the city’s pollinator populations, the new green roofs will also serve to absorb rainwater. They will also help with the urban heat island effect, which causes urbanized areas to experience higher temperatures than outlying areas. Structures such as buildings, roads, and other infrastructure absorb and re-emit the sun’s heat more than natural landscapes such as forests and water bodies.

Leicester has proven that with a little imagination great things are possible. Their brilliant idea should be recreated around the globe. This is truly a step in the right direction and one of those stories that gives you hope.

Tomorrow, yoga mats made from recycled wetsuits.

3D Printing Food Waste into Usable Products

Day 233 – I first came across an article about a company in Milan, named Krill Designs, that is transforming inedible food waste into functional homeware products. One of the products is a 3D printed lamp made from orange peels. The “Ohmie” is a compostable lamp made from the peels of two to three oranges that are dried, ground into a powder, and added to a vegetable starch base. That combined material is molded into pellets used in a 3D printing process that layers the material into a textured shade and base. Due to the organic matter that makes up the lamp, the color varies. One of the coolest features is that even as it ages it maintains its citrusy smell.

So, after reading about the orange lamp, I wanted to find out more about 3D printing food waste into usable products. I found two very cool companies that are taking food waste and turning into something quite amazing!

Upprinting Food

Upprinting Food is a company in the Netherlands that is turning food waste into attractive, tasty food using 3D printing.

By blending and combining the different ingredients from residual food flows, purees are created, which then are being 3D printed by a food printer. These prints are baked and dehydrated for crunch and longevity. We currently have created several recipes, both bread, and rice-based, and we are working to create new recipes all the time. We are focusing on collaborations with high-end restaurants to help them reduce their residual food flows and to create a unique dining experience.” – Upprinting Food

Genecis

Genecis is a Canadian company that has figured out a way to recycle food waste and turn it into biodegradable plastics, which can then be used to make everything from 3D printing filament to packaging. Their PHBV plastic has equivalent properties to traditional oil based plastics, without the environmental costs. When the product reaches end of its useful life it can be composted within a month. If it does find its way into the ocean, it degrades within a year.

“Genecis uses biology to convert organic waste into higher value materials. The first product line is PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoates) biopolymers, which is used in combination with PLA to make 3D printing filaments. It is also used to make high-end flexible packaging and containers. In addition, PHAs makes a tougher and less brittle 3D printing filament. The end product is 100 percent biodegradable, and can be mixed with a variety of colors,” explained Luna Yu, the Founder and CEO of Genecis. “Currently, all PHAs are made from expensive food crops such as corn, sugar cane, and canola. Genecis has developed a novel technology that produces PHAs from mixed food waste, dramatically reducing the production costs.”

The technology is there to help numerous problems that plague our planet. Food waste and plastic pollution could be a thing of the past if companies decide to tap into these brilliant solutions.

Tomorrow, we are at a point where we need to cover our mountains in order to save the snow caps.

World’s First Second-Hand Mall

Day 227 – Imagine a mall full of stores offering merchandise that is all second-hand. Aisles and shelves full of items given up by their original owners, but still in good condition and ready to be useful for someone else. The U.S. has stores, like Goodwill, that offer second-hand items for the fraction of their original cost. However, in Sweden, they have created an entire mall dedicated to keeping reusable items out of the landfill.

In Eskilstuna, Sweden, a one-of-kind shopping experience is happening at ReTuna. Not only are they selling second-hand merchandise, but also upcyled items, as well. Filled with 14 second-hand shops, a conference space, and an eco-friendly cafe, ReTuna is a shopping space, but also a place of education and inspiration. It houses a design school, where students learn how to incorporate recycled materials into their designs. There are also art installations (made from recycled materials) which fill the space between the boutiques and cafe. Shops in the mall offer fashion, children’s goods, technology and more.

What makes ReTuna different is that it’s located next to the local recycling center, where the goods to be repurposed are collected. The collection station, Returen, receives, sorts through and distributes the goods to the appropriate stores inside the mall according to the assortment description in every shop’s business plan. The shop then sorts through the goods again, and repairs and upcycles things, prices them and puts them up for sale.

In 2018, Retuna sold second-goods worth $1.3 million. If Sweden can do it, there is no reason why this business model couldn’t work everywhere. It’s not only good for business, but it’s good for the planet!

To watch a video about ReTuna, click HERE.

Tomorrow, recycling your mattress just got easier.

Green Parking Lots

Day 226 – When you think of a parking lot, most of us picture a large space covered in asphalt with painted lines to designate where we should park our car. However, what if that asphalt was grass?

TRUGRID (U.S. company) has created pavers that are good for the environment in numerous ways:

  1. The fact that their pavers are made from 100% post-consumer recycled high-density polyethylene, an unbelievably durable material that works in all climates and soils. Millions of pounds of post-consumer recycled high-density polyethylene have been kept out of the oceans and landfills by converting disposable products like shampoo bottles and water jugs to long life cycle pavers lasting 60 years or more.
  2. Natural filtration of stormwater which allows for pollutants in to be removed before recharging aquifers. They are completely 100% permeable, meaning they’ll let stormwater, auto spills, and other liquids pass directly through into the ground where they can be filtered by Mother Nature and safely dispersed. The natural bioremediation process of storm water passing through the rock and into the soil provides a natural filter that removes up to 90 % of auto pollutants before recharge of aquifers.
  3. Reduced CO2 emissions compared to concrete and asphalt pavement. The installation process for this sustainable car park design is also much faster than your average concrete or asphalt installation, requiring far less manpower, hours, equipment, fuel, and resources.

“If only one person in each U.S. city installed a TRUEGRID driveway, the recycled gallon jugs could stack end to end to the top of Mt. Everest…and then again 3600 more Mt. Everests.” – TRUGRID

With each passing year, the weather is becoming more unpredictable and severe. Flooding is becoming more and more common. We need to start finding ways to adapt to our environment and work towards ways to help reverse the affects of global warming. Companies like TRUEGRID are doing just that.

Tomorrow, Sweden is doing something that should be replicated around the world.

Eco-Friendly Back to School Bags

Day 223 – A couple days ago I wrote about sustainable options for school supplies. Well, now you need something to hold all that stuff. As mentioned on Monday, the most eco-friendly thing you can do when it comes to back to school supplies is to reuse items from the previous year. School bags are one of the easiest things to use year after year. There’s no doubt bags may not last a second or third year and it may be difficult to convince the middle schooler that the unicorn backpack is still cool, but making the effort to try to reuse or find someone else that can, is helpful.

If you are in need of new bag, I put together a few eco-friendly options. Rareform – They use recycled billboard vinyl and turn it into unique, durable bags. Over the past seven years they have repurposed 3 million pounds of vinyl that was destined for landfills. Rareform’s Blake Tote made it under our Christmas tree last year. They are well made, easy to clean and weather resistant. No two bags are the same.

Ecogear – Their bags are made from Repreve. Repreve is recycled fiber created from plastic bottles.

thredUP – They don’t just offers secondhand clothing, but also offer bags and backpacks. They have some of the world’s largest and high-quality brands for up to 90 percent off.

Beekeeper Parade – These backpacks are on the high end of pricing. However, if you are looking for a one of kind bag, you will find it here. The bags are made using discarded textiles and fabric remnants from local factories that would have otherwise ended up in a landfill. Every purchase helps children in rural Cambodia access quality education.

Jansport – This brand has always been my go to for backpacks. Jansport has started to use recycled plastic in their bags. They also offer a Lifetime Warranty on their backpacks.

As more and more companies are offering products that can either be reused, made with recycled materials or created using earth friendly materials, we need to make an effort to find and support these companies.

Tomorrow, saving the elephants.

Recycling Cooking Oil

Day 220 – My family enjoys french fries. For the longest time we would bake them in the oven. However, once we were introduced to fries cooked in a fryer, we definitely preferred them over the oven baked. Large bottles of cooking oil were purchased and used numerous times. However, once the cooking oil was no longer good to fry with, we were not sure how to dispose of it. Capping it and tossing it in the garbage did not seem like a good solution. Last year, I looked into the Loyola University School of Environmental Sustainability’s cooking oil recycling program. I was disappointed to find out that the program was on pause due to the pandemic.

Well, I’m happy to say that Loyola Biodiesel Program is back in business.

The Biodiesel Program accepts donations of used cooking oil. If you have recently deep-fried a turkey, or have a jar of expired oil…we’ll take it! All vegetable oil (including peanut oil) donated to Loyola will be turned into clean-burning, renewable fuel: biodiesel. We do NOT accept solid fats, petroleum oil products, bacon grease, or pan drippings.” – LBP

Loyola’s student-run enterprise is the first and only school operation licensed to sell biodiesel in the United States, and is a certified green business with the Illinois Green Business Association.

To donate your oil please drop-off your oil in sealed containers at the School of Environmental Sustainability:

6349 N. Kenmore Ave. Chicago, IL 60660

Look for the Oil Donation sign on the left-hand side as you enter the lobby. If the door is locked, please leave your oil in a sealed container outside the door and off to the side so it does not block the door. Thank you!

To find the closest oil recycling near you, click HERE.

Even though we have a place to recycle our oil, we are strongly considering purchasing an air fryer. Not needing to purchase all that oil in plastic bottles would be a nice thing to avoid. Not to mention, I can only imagine having less fried food in our diet would be more healthy.

Tomorrow, keeping the planet in mind while gathering up those back to school supplies.