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.

Finding a New Home for Lost Golf Balls

Day 257 – Since 1992, Lostgolfballs.com has been recovering, processing, and marketing pre-owned, used and recycled golf balls each year to golfers worldwide. Many of the balls come from premier courses across the United States.

Not only will you find excellent golf balls at great prices, but you are reusing golf balls, preventing new balls from being made and keeping used golf balls out of the landfill.

Not only can you buy used golf balls at LostGolfBalls.com, but you can also sell your golf balls.

“Do you have thousands of golf balls lying around your garage, attic or trunk of your car? Do you get your exercise from walking around a golf course hunting for golf balls? Has your spouse questioned you, say several hundred times, about your plans for ever reclaiming the square footage of your home that golf balls currently occupy? If you can answer yes or know of someone that can answer yes to any of these questions, http://www.LostGolfBalls.com has a solution for you. With our 21 locations around the country there is a pretty good chance we are somewhere close by and will send someone to pick those balls up from any location.”LostGolfBalls.com

With Americans losing around 300,000 golf balls each year, it’s nice to know that some of them are ending up at Lostgolfballs.com, where they are finding a new home.

So, the next time your in the market for some new golf balls, consider purchasing pre-owned golf balls. There’s no guarantee they’ll improve your game, but you can bet it is helping improve the planet.

Tomorrow, ditching the plastic cup at the marathon.

Upstream: Changing the Throw Away Culture

Day 255 – So what is Upstream? Good question.

“Upstream® was founded in 2003 as a public-interest, non-profit organization by a group of Zero Waste activists in the US and Canada. While working together in the 1990s, these leaders felt too many environmental groups were only focused on “downstream” or “end of pipe” solutions like recycling and composting. But they knew we can’t recycle or compost our way to a sustainable future. We have to work “upstream” to redesign the systems generating all the waste in the first place.” – Upstream

Upstream is working to create a world where you will find:

  1. Everyone dining out at restaurants is eating off real plates and cutlery, and drinking from real cups.
  2. To-go coffee is served in reusable cups loaned from a reuse service providing clean, sanitized cups to coffee shops.
  3. Restaurants, grocery stores and delis use services that provide them with clean, sanitized reusable to-go containers for prepared food, takeout and delivery.
  4. At the ballpark, everyone is drinking beer out of real cups. And touch-free soda fountains dispense drinks in reusable cups after you put in your credit card.
  5. You can order groceries, cleaning and personal care products delivered in reusable containers in a reusable box tote.
  6. Tens of thousands of people are employed throughout the area in delivery, pick-up, cleaning, stocking and logistics.
  7. Litter and solid waste costs are down and community pride is up.
  8. None of these innovations required you to bring your own anything. People got tired of single-use waste. And entrepreneurs said we can do it without single-use, and we can do it better.
  9. Community leaders and policymakers worked to create the conditions for this thriving reuse economy. Then the big companies saw this was the future, and everyone started doing it.

Upstream exists to push the idea of reuse. They offer resources for businesses and individuals to make the changes needed to move away from single-use.

Explore the Learning Hub created for activists, educators, policymakers, business leaders and changemakers – like you – to get the information you need to engage and support your community.

Join the movement today!

Tomorrow, multifamily recycling resources.

Recycling Car Seats

Day 254 – On average, one child will go through three car seats. That ends up being a lot of car seats that need disposal. Over 12 million car seats are disposed of each year in the U.S.

Earth911 has taken the mystery out of recycling your car seat.

Reasons why you would need to dispose of a car seat:

  • The car seat has been recalled for safety reasons.
  • Children have outgrown their car seats.
  • The car seat has expired.
  • The car seat has been in an accident.

If a car seat hasn’t been recalled, expired, or been in an accident and is still in good shape, donating it to someone who can use it is the best choice. The website safeconvertiblecarseats.com has a list of organizations in all 50 states that accept used, non-expired car seats for donation. The listed organizations include children’s hospitals, shelters for families in crisis, and agencies supporting foster families.

Some retailers will take your car seat and recycle it. Target held a two-week car seat recycling event in April 2021. Hopefully, they will continue the program in 2022.

One mail-in option is Clek’s car seat recycling program. They accept any brand of car seat for recycling for a fee. The fees range from roughly $35-50 per car seat. They do offer 10% off of a future purchase of their products. If you’re going to buy one of their car seats anyway, that discount can offset the recycling fee.

Another mail-in option, if you have a Century brand car seat, is TerraCycle’s Century Baby Gear Recycling Program. Although this program is free of charge, only Century brand car seats are eligible.

When your child outgrows their car seat, consider keeping it out of the landfill by looking into one of these many options.

Tomorrow, innovative solutions to plastic pollution.

Free Stuff at Your Local Household Hazardous Waste Facility

Day 253 – Most of us are familiar with what items our local household hazardous waste facility will accept. Everything from household chemicals, such as bleach, harsh cleaning materials and drain cleaners to motor oil, gasoline and auto fluids. Most facilities will also accept electronics like computers, televisions and printers.

For a complete list of acceptable items at Chicago’s Household Hazardous Waste Facility click HERE.

Chicago’s HHW facility is located at 1150 N. North Branch Street.

During business hours, an attendant is outside, ready to help unload your vehicle and accept your materials.  Materials should not be left outside the facility unattended.  Therefore, please do not drop off any items outside of scheduled business hours:

Tuesdays 7 am – 12 pm

Thursdays 2 pm – 7 pm

The first Saturday of every month 8 am – 3 pm

Something you might not know is that there are free items at your local HHW facility. At Chicago’s HHW there are useable paints, stains and other cleaners available for free at the facility’s material exchange room. Please ask a staff person to enter the exchange room, which is open during regular hours of operation. Chicagoans are welcome to take materials without dropping off any of their own.  

So, the next time your in need of these items consider dropping by your local HHW and check out what they may have to offer for free.

Tomorrow, recycling car seats.

Medical Supplies: Donation Options

Day 252 – It’s not hard to acquire medical supplies that you end up only using for a short time. You are then faced with either storing them away, throwing them out or finding someone else that may be able to use it. Today’s post gives you a few suggestions on donating your surplus medical supplies.

MedShare

MedShare’s recovery efforts save millions of pounds of surplus medical supplies and equipment from landfills and incinerators that, for various regulatory reasons, hospitals and medical companies must discard. They accept donations of unused, unexpired medical surplus supplies and used biomedical equipment through our hospital recovery program and corporate product donations. To see the complete list of accepted items, click HERE.

MedWish

MedWish International is a not-for-profit organization that saves lives and the environment by repurposing discarded medical supplies and equipment to provide humanitarian aid to people in need. To see list of accepted items, click HERE.

Alliance for Smiles

All over the world children born with cleft lip and palate anomalies suffer physically and emotionally. They may become malnourished and are prone to ear infections and hearing loss. Often times, they experience upper-respiratory problems or speech and dental difficulties; many need multiple operations and long-term treatment.   Alliance for Smiles offers these children and families hope for a bright future. To see the complete list of accepted items, click HERE.

American Medical Resource Foundation

The American Medical Resources Foundation’s mission is to improve health care around the world by donating medical equipment and supplies to hospitals that serve the poor in underdeveloped and developing countries of the world. Click HERE for more information on what items are accepted.

Project C.U.R.E

Project C.U.R.E. is the world’s largest distributor of donated medical equipment and supplies to resource-limited communities across the globe, touching the lives of patients, families, and children in more than 135 countries. For more information on donating supplies, click HERE.

Before tossing your unwanted medical supplies, find out if someone else can use it.

Tomorrow, free stuff at HHW.

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.

Oyster Shells: Creating New Colonies

Day 246 – I have never eaten an oyster, but plenty of people enjoy the salty, slippery mollusk. However, they do so much more than offer a food source.

They play a vital role in habitat restoration with the growing understanding that oyster reefs purify the waters in which they live and create preferred habitats for commercial and recreational fish species. Oyster reefs help stabilize shorelines and mitigate some of the impacts of sea level rise while acting as a carbon sink in part by improving the water’s capacity to absorb excess atmospheric CO2.” – Oyster Recovery

So, it makes perfect sense that making sure these habitats are healthy and thriving would be a major priority. One of the ways this is being done is through discarded shells. The shells discarded by diners are being collected, cleaned and dumped into waterways around the country and the world, where they form the basis of new oyster colonies. Not only is this process benefitting ecological restoration, but it has kept 65 tons of shells out of landfills.

The oyster colonies also are being planted along coastlines as a shore stabilization and storm mitigation strategy: the bumpy underwater colonies can act as speed bumps for destructive waves headed for the shoreline, dissipating some of their energy.” – ABC News

Currently the oyster restoration and and shell recycling program are only offered in states located along the ocean shoreline. Hopefully, the program will expand across the country, where oyster shells continue finding their way to landfills.

Tomorrow, celebrating National Wildlife Day.

Seven Generations Ahead: Building ecological sustainable and healthy communities

Day 242 – Who is Seven Generations Ahead?

SGA works with local government, community and private sector leaders to help communities make the changes they need to build a healthy and sustainable future. Through community-wide sustainability planning and implementation, project design and implementation, educational conferences and forums, community network development, consulting, and programs, SGA is a catalyst for local community solutions to global environmental issues. SGA’s work covers a broad range of sustainability topic areas, including: energy efficiency and renewable energy; transportation; healthy community development; waste reduction; water conservation; green business; procurement; local, sustainable food; healthy eating; open space and ecosystem enhancement; and sustainability education.” – Seven Generations Ahead

Seven Generations Ahead works with various networks, in order to achieve sustainability and healthy communities.

  1. PlanItGreen is the sustainability plan for the communities of Oak Park and River Forest, Illinois.
  2. The Fox Valley Sustainability Network (FVSN) brings together the public and private sectors from around the Fox Valley to cut across boundaries and create a healthy, sustainable and vibrant Fox Valley.
  3. GreenTown conferences are the best way to work with community stakeholders, civic leaders and passionate citizens to jump start a network.
  4. The Illinois Food Scrap Coalition (IFSC) grew out of a one-year food scrap composting forum planning process to support research, programs, education and policy initiatives.
  5. The Wasted Food Action Alliance (WFAA) aims to develop a working strategy and action platform that makes Illinois a leader in reducing wasted food through collaboration, education, and policy.

Seven Generations Ahead (SGA) works with schools, businesses, institutions, and municipalities to provide support for all steps along a path to zero waste from planning to implementation.

  1. Zero Waste Schools
  2. Food Waste Reductions and Composting

Seven Generations Ahead created the Illinois Farm to School Network (IFSN).

IFSN is comprised of teachers, early care providers, food service staff, farmers, students, and others who are working to change food purchasing and education practices in their communities. The network provides training, connects partners, and shares resources about all aspects of farm to school– including local food sourcing, hands-on nutrition education, and school gardening.” – SGA

Seven Generations Ahead also created a project called It’s Our Future.  The project will equip young leaders in Oak Park/River Forest to advocate for climate change solutions that benefit all members of our community.

Seven Generations Ahead is an amazing resource for any community. They are committed to building a healthy and sustainable future for us all.

Tomorrow, a company that will recycle your batteries, for a fee.

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.