Close the Loop, Buy Recycled

The final critical step of the recycling process is to purchase products made from recycled material. If we increase the demand for recycled products, recycled material becomes more valuable. If recycled material is more valuable, guess what, more people recycle. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Mint loop
Photo by: a different perspective

Here are some products that you can and should buy recycled:

Paper – Look for the highest percentage of post-consumer content possible. Post-consumer waste is a term used to describe material that is being reused/recycled after it has been in the consumer’s hands (like a newspaper going back to the paper mill to be recycled into new recycled content paper products). It also indicates that the material is not from the manufacturing process, but from a finished product that has already been in the hands of a consumer. I love the 100% post-consumer recycled copy paper from New Leaf Paper. You can also find paper made from agricultural waste including banana, coffee, lemon and mango fiber; or even paper made from elephant dung, yep you heard me right, elephant dung – an no, it doesn’t smell.

Glass – many products can be made from recycled glass. Glass is a great material for recycling because unlike plastic, it doesn’t downcycle. By downcycling, I mean the recycling of a material into a material of lesser quality. So if you can, choose glass over plastic when you are purchasing items in the first place, then recycle it and buy products made from recycled glass. From smaller items like jewelry or dishware to large items like countertops recycled glass is a beautiful material with many applications.

Plastic –When compared to other materials like glass and metal, plastic polymers require much more processing to be recycled (i.e. significantly more energy consumed in the process). Plastics also must be of almost identical composition in order to mix efficiently. When different types of plastics are melted together they tend to separate, like oil and water, and set in layers. This results in a structurally weak material with limited applications. Generally, the most recyclable plastic is PET, or No. 1 plastic. Many products use recycled PET from backpacks to shopping bags to one of my favorite T-shirts from a company called Revenge Is. That t-shirt is so soft, I really can’t believe it’s made from plastic bottles.

Bags and Accessories – From purses to earrings, messenger bags to pencil pouches, many of the accessory items we use can be made from recycled material – incorporating great design and function too. TerraCycle is an industry leader in creating upcycled products. With bags made from juice pouches, candy wrappers, chip bags, gum packaging there seems to be no end to what this company can make from our trash.

Know of more great products made from recycled material? Leave a comment below to share it.

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