Let’s Talk Recyclability?

Day 296 – When it comes to recycling, many have mixed emotions. Some do what they can to recycle as many items as they can. While others don’t trust the system and don’t bother, thinking it’s all a waste of time. If I have learned anything this past year, it’s you at least have to try to make a difference. If we all become complacent about our impact on the environment, whether that’s negative or positive, then the planet has no chance. We all have the capacity to make a difference.

So, on that note, I thought discussing the number of times a particular item can be recycled would be helpful. It will show you that recycling is helpful and something we should all be doing.

Plastic can only be recycled once or twice. The quality of the plastic decreases. Most of the time, plastic is downcycled into something like plastic lumber or synthetic fibers for fabric or insulation. It’s just one more reminder as to why we need to find alternatives to plastic.

Aluminum can be recycled an infinite number of times. It is the most valuable recycled item in the United States. Choosing packaging made from aluminum and getting that packaging to the recycle bin is a real win for the planet.  

Paper can be recycled around five to seven times to produce new paper. Once the fibers become to short, it can be used to make things like egg cartons and newsprint.

Metals, other than aluminum also have an unlimited lifespan, and it is always a good idea to recycle them. Finding someone willing to recycle your metals is usually an easy process. You can even make a little cash.

Glass can be recycled an unlimited number of times. It is also more cost-effective to reuse and recycle glass than to create from scratch.

So, choose your packaging wisely.

Tomorrow, tips on having a green Halloween.

First Mile – Plastic Collection Brought to You by People that Care

Day 292 First Mile is a business that is monitoring the plastic supply chain. Consumers can have confidence that the products they are purchasing came from recycled material and those responsible for collecting that plastic are being compensated accordingly. From the moment that plastic bottle is picked up from the street to the time it is created into a new product and sold to the consumer, First Mile is tracking every step.

Here is how First Mile describes their process:

  1. People in the First Mile of our supply chain collect bottles from the streets, their neighbors, and yes, even the landfill to trade for cash at a local plastic collection center.
  2. Once prepared and bundled, those bottles are piled high on a truck and transported to a recycling facility for processing.
  3. Workers at each recycling facility unload and grind the bottles to make plastic flakes. Labels and caps are removed to prevent non-PET material from reaching later phases of the supply chain. High-quality flake means superior fabric and ultimately a better livelihood for people in the First Mile.
  4. Recycled plastic flake is extruded into fine strands, then texturized into a soft fiber that rivals other organic materials.
  5. Fiber can be spun and texturized to create a more substantial strand of yarn. Innovation in these steps allows recycled content like First Mile to take the place of traditional materials, without compromising feel or flex.
  6. First Mile recycled yarn can be woven or knit to create unique fabrics and textures.

Many name brands are using First Mile plastic in their products.

  1. U.S. Bank uses recycled plastic in their debit cards.
  2. Puma uses recycled plastic in their shoes and clothing.
  3. Day Owl uses recycled plastic in their bags.
  4. Ralph Lauren uses recycled plastic in their polos.
  5. Hewlett Packard uses recycled plastic in their computers.

These days it is hard to know if we are being greenwashed or if companies are doing what they say they are doing to help protect the planet. It is nice to know that there are organizations like First Mile helping us decipher the truth from the lies.

Tomorrow, green goo that won’t gross you out.

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.

Preserve: Reusable Plasticware

Day 207 – It may sound counterproductive to write about plasticware, especially during Plastic Free July. However, Preserve is not your typical plasticware. Preserve has been making products good for people and the planet since 1996.

Here are just a few of the ways Preserve is making a difference:

  1. Preserve’s plastic products are made from 100% recycled plastic.
  2. Preserve’s plastic products are dishwasher safe and made to last.
  3. Preserve’s products are made in the U.S.
  4. Preserve has a line of 100% compostable items that are plant based and gluten free.
  5. Preserve has a take back program called Gimme 5, which collects #5 plastic that they transform into new Preserve products.
  6. Preserve even takes back their own products that reach the end of their life. They then recycle and create new products from those items.
  7. Preserve is a Certified B Corporation.
  8. Preserve makes a line of products made from ocean plastic. Through sales of our POPi products, they support organizations that prevent plastic from reaching the ocean. 25% of proceeds from POPi products are donated to non-profits that work on issues including:
  • Developing better recycling systems around the world.
  • Researching the effects of plastic in the ocean and on marine life.
  • Creating catchment technologies (ways to trap plastic in waterways before it reaches the ocean).
  • Providing better end of life solutions for recovered and recycled packages that were heading for the ocean.

I recently purchased the On the Go Party Set (currently sold out) and couldn’t be happier with the product. The plates, cups and plasticware will be used for countless parties to come.

Tomorrow, fun at the beach is becoming more environmentally friendly.

Watches Made from Ocean Plastic

Day 201 – I haven’t worn a watch in years. My Fitbit used to tell me the time and remind me to get off my but, before it broke. I know many people wear a watch and can’t imagine leaving home without it. So, today’s post is about watches made from plastic pulled from the ocean. In my findings on the subject, I found watches priced under $100 and others over $1,000. For this post I’m just writing about two brands that were under $200. I just can’t imagine paying more for a watch.

The Horse – This Australian company has created a full ocean plastic experience with case and strap made from the recycled material.

“We believe in cleaner oceans, a sustainable lifestyle and in waste as a resource. Twelve months in the making, we have partnered with Swiss eco partner #tide to craft a watch using 100% recycled ocean plastic.” – The Horse

TRIWA – Triwa’s Time for Oceans collection includes field and dive watch styles using cases and straps fully made from upcycled ocean plastic.

“All plastic used in manufacturing these watches is ethically collected from oceans and shores, and, with the help of solar power, properly cleaned and recycled by our official partner, Tide Ocean Material, in Switzerland” – TRIWA

Time is running out to help protect the planet. However, you can help by keeping a sustainable watch brand in mind the next time you’re looking for a new timepiece.

Tomorrow, a company making cleaning the ocean its business.

LEGO is Starting to Go Green

Day 194 – This past June, LEGO announced that they created a brick made entirely of recycled plastic. Though, it is not yet available in stores, it is a step in the right direction.

“The new prototype is made using polyethylene terephthalate (PET) recycled from bottles that have been thrown away. According to a statement from the company, scientists and engineers tested over 250 variations of PET materials, as well as hundreds of other plastic formulations, before nailing down the latest prototype.”CBS News

More testing is needed before the recycled plastic bricks make their way to stores. Until then LEGO is making a few other environmentally friendly changes. They plan to stop using plastic bags inside their boxed sets and replace them with paper packaging. LEGO has also started a Take Back Program.  LEGO® Replay will accept any and all previously used LEGO bricks and donate them to children’s non-profits in the United States. 

With over 36,000 LEGO pieces made a minute and 75 billion bricks sold annually in over 140 countries, it is an important step for LEGO and the environment to create a recycled plastic brick. Hopefully, more companies will start making changes to their own products that are more beneficial for the planet and still providing their customers with a well made, quality product.

Tomorrow, sleep soundly knowing you are helping the planet.

Sustainable Rugs for Indoor and Outdoor Use

Day 190 – There are products made from recycled material popping up everywhere. Unfortunately, many people are not finding these sustainable options. They are not the first items that popup when you start your search. More times than not, you really need to seek them out. They are out there!

Today’s post is about a company called Fab Habitat. Their rugs are made from recycled plastic. Plastic that would have ended up in the landfill. Since the creation of Fab Habitat, they have recycled millions of bottles and plastic containers, turning them from trash to rugs.

They ensure that everything they manufacture is GoodWeave certified and made using fair trade principles, meaning no child, forced, or bonded labor and no harmful chemicals or dyes. Good Weave is a nonprofit organization founded by Nobel Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi, dedicated to ending child labor in the carpet industry and offering education to children in weaving communities.

Fab Habitat is a proud supporter of Navjeevan Society, a charity based in Aurangabad, India. The Navjeevan Society is focused on bettering the lives of individuals with special needs.

So, if you’re looking for some home decor that helps the planet and those in need, consider a company like Fab Habitat. They are doing their part to be responsible citizens and business owners.

Tomorrow, breaking free from plastic pollution.

From Plastic Toys to Children’s Furniture

Day 153 – Co-founders Vanessa Yuan and Joris Vanbriel started ecoBirdy (Certified B-Corporation), a Belgium company that recycles old toys into furniture, as a way to reduce plastic waste. ecoBirdy collects toys from schools and recycling centers.

Check out the VIDEO to see how they do it.

“Recycled plastic products are usually recognized as being greyish, dullish and not very attractive. Our aim was to change this, and make something colorful out of the colorful plastic waste. Following an in-depth two-year study period, ecoBirdy created a special production process that gives the characteristic look to its products. The material resulting from this unique production process we named ecothylene®. Due to accurate sorting and using state-of-the-art technology, we are able to transform post-consumer plastic waste into high-grade raw material. The patented technology features integrated material separation and an improved binding formula for polymers. The result is that no pigments or new plastics need to be added. Making ecothylene® is significantly more eco-friendly than most recycling procedures for plastics.” – ecoBirdy

The recycled plastic used for the production of ecothylene® is 100% recyclable. Which means that ecothylene® can easily be recycled again.

The plastic waste goes through several stages.

  1. The collected plastic waste is brought to our partner, a professional recycling center.
  2. Every single object is manually checked.
  3. The volume is ground to smaller fragments and washed.
  4. Precise sorting is conducted automatically.
  5. Lab quality control is carried out.

Throughout the whole production process, the material is checked by people as well as machines to avoid contamination. 

The end product is safe and stylish children’s furniture that is helping keep plastic toys out of the landfill. We can only hope that more manufacturers will see the benefits of using recycled materials. As consumers, we can also help by supporting companies that put the planet first, but also by making good decisions when purchasing products. All you have to ask, “Does this product have a negative effect on the planet?”

Tomorrow, celebrating World Bicycle Day.

Polywood: Outdoor furniture produced from recycled plastic materials

Day 143 – I love learning about companies like Polywood. They saw a problem and decided to do something about it.

“30 years ago, we were the first to create outdoor furniture from recycled plastic materials. Our mission remains to recover and transform landfill-bound and ocean-bound plastic into durable outdoor furniture that will last for generations.” – Polywood

Their line of outdoor furniture is extensive and are backed with a 20 year warranty. The Polywood lumber doesn’t splinter, crack, chip, peel or rot.

As if outdoor furniture created from recycled plastic wasn’t cool enough, here are a few other reasons to check out Polywood:

  1. The all-weather material is built to withstand all four seasons and a range of climates including hot sun, snowy winters, salt spray and heavy winds.
  2. Polywood lumber cleans easily with soap and water and require no painting, staining, or waterproofing.
  3. UV inhibitors and stabilizers protect the lumber from harmful environmental degradation.

I’m leaning toward the Nautical 3 piece Porch Rocking Chair Set. I love a good rocking chair. I’ll keep you posted if I end up making the purchase.

So, if you’re in the market for some new outdoor furniture consider supporting a company that is helping to keep plastic out of landfills and oceans.

Tomorrow, the recyclability of tires.

Does Infinitely Recyclable Plastic Exist?

Day 138 – Wouldn’t it be amazing if companies were responsible for the products they manufactured? We’re not just talking about in the beginning, at the moment of purchase, but at the end, as well. The consumer needs help to figure out how to responsibly dispose of their “stuff” and manufactures are nowhere to be found. Unfortunately, more times than not, the consumer is left to navigate the confusing world of recycling and for those that don’t have the time and patience, the landfill seems to be the only option.

It is cheaper for manufacturers to use virgin resin (new plastic) then it is to use recycled plastic. Add the fact that in many countries there are no rules or regulations in place to steer companies away from single use plastics. Combine that with zero infrastructure to deal with the absurd amount of plastics flooding waste management facilities and you have a recipe for disaster.

Thankfully, science is coming to the rescue.

“A multidisciplinary team from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has created a plastic that can be disassembled at a molecular level using an acidic solution. Then, it can be reassembled with a new color, texture, and shape, again and again. Unlike traditional plastic, which can only be recycled two or three times at most, this material, called poly(diketoenamine), or PDK, is infinitely recyclable.” – Earth911

Even though the initial creation of PDK is expensive to manufacture, it is significantly less expensive to recycle this type of plastic compared to the very popular, PET and HDPE plastics. Recycled PDK will even be less expensive than virgin plastic, making it very appealing to manufactures.

While it’s helpful to have plastics that are infinitely recyclable, we also need to hold companies accountable for the products they produce. The responsibility can longer be placed solely on the consumer. We need to start supporting companies with take back programs and trade in options. By supporting these companies we are making it very clear that we are tired for carrying the burden and need other companies to step up and create a plan to help the planet.

Tomorrow, products on Amazon that are environmentally friendly.