Every time we toss a soda can or newspaper into the recycling bin, our used items go on to a new life as postconsumer recycled items. New technologies are evolving every day with new ways to turn junk to jewels, with minimal impact on the environment. New products and processes are heralding in the green economy.
One of the simplest items that can be purchased from recycled materials is paper. Buying paper with a high “postconsumer content” ensures that the resources used to create the new paper were already consumed and tossed into the recycling bin. Using recycled paper reduces the pressure on the world’s forests because recycled paper is made from paper, not from trees.
Manufacturing recycled papers is advantageous because it saves more than 40 percent of the energy resources, it requires less water, it saves on landfill space, it requires fewer chemicals and bleaching materials compared with virgin paper production and it helps conserve our forests. In addition to basic copy paper, recycled paper products include paper towels, toilet paper, tissues, cardboard binders and CD sleeves.
Recycled plastics are being used to create everything from fleece clothing to carpets to park benches.
Terracycle is trailblazing the reinvention of postconsumer recycled products. The company began by packaging cleaners and fertilizers in used milk jugs and soda bottles and has gone on to create handbags and accessories from drink-pouch and snack-food wrappers and cork boards from wine corks.
Preserve is another company on a major recycling mission, making everyday items like toothbrushes and razors from used yogurt containers. The Web site offers information on how to donate your No. 5 plastics and old Brita water filters to the company.
Melting down and recycling glass is one of the oldest forms of recycling. Recycled glass products include all sorts of glassware, tile, beads and home décor. And, of course, recycled glass has been used in the stained glass and mosaic arts for ages.
But the ability to make trash into treasure doesn’t require a factory. Thousands of clever crafters are turning their old junk and found waste into jewelry, handbags, clothing, furniture and more. For a wide variety of green crafters, check out Etsy.com.
For all these items and more, check online and open up a world of beautiful, eco-friendly items made from recycled materials.