Happy Earth Day, everyone! Let’s celebrate our wonderful home by taking a hike, smelling the spring flowers, and renewing our vows to live in harmony with nature. As they say, there is no Planet B! So let’s make this one count. Here are some big “re-thinks” from this year.
To Make Recycling Work, You Have to Buy Recycled Products
It does feel great to think that going green doesn’t mean always going without. For a long time, I’ve been buying recycled products because it is a great way to “make recycling pay,” so that there will be a market for the things we send to those sorting centers. I still think this is true for many materials, but the big caveat is plastic. More on that below. For now, here are five picks for Earth Day this year.
Vintage Addiction recycled bags on Zulily for Earth Day
Zulily is a fun place to find interesting brands you may not encounter elsewhere. This Earth Day, they have a series of yoga mat covers, bags, jewelry and more made from reused army tents, Kantha fabrics and more.
Recycled Earth Day Bracelets that Clean Our Oceans
Remember when it was popular to give your conservative relatives gift memberships to Planned Parenthood and such? This is a similar charity-as-gift idea: a lovely unisex bracelet made of recycled glass and thread that you can give as a gift for a $20 donation to 4Ocean.
According to their website, “In less than 2 years, 4Ocean has removed 540,000 pounds of trash from the ocean and coastlines.” including a special green and blue Earth Day edition! Your purchase funds the removal of one more pound of trash. They sort the trash and recycle what they can.
I do hope more large-scale cleanup technologies are put into use soon, but for now, this is a nice way to do something about the problem while also getting more people invested in the effort.
Cleverly named, these composition notebooks feature 100% post-consumer recycled paper! This means that all of the paper in them was created by recycling paper that people had already used once and then put into recycling bins.
This is cool because many recycled products use industrial scraps and so forth instead of “post-consumer” sources. But to make it cost-efficient for towns and cities to recycle, we need to increase demand for the recyclable paper that they collect from consumers.
Recycled Cotton Socks
Cotton is a natural material and as such is not harmful to the environment as it wears down and sheds fibers. However, it requires a lot of water to grow, and it is often grown with pesticides and herbicides. So it makes sense to try to reuse and recycle cotton as much as possible instead of throwing it in landfills and growing more.
YouTube and Pinterest are full of fun DIY projects to do with your unloved T-shirts. I’ll have to try some soon and post about them. Haven’t gotten around to that yet. But what I did get around to was buying some Solmate Socks made in the USA by the Sock Lady with recycled cotton and other materials. I really enjoyed them this winter and can recommend them highly! (I received nothing for sharing this opinion).
BUT… Just Avoid Plastic
The film Plastic China is seriously disturbing. I watched it on Netflix. Huge shipments of recycling from the US, Japan, and Europe arrive in China daily, so that whole families of “farmers” can try to sort them out, shred them, melt them, and produce worse-quality plastic pellets from them. If the plastic doesn’t fall into the ocean on the way there, it enters waterways and children’s bodies at these home-based businesses where people earn too little trying to stem the stream of waste from our “developed” world.
That film, as well as all the footage of plastic floating around the oceans has made me prioritize the elimination of plastic from my life. No new plastic toys (used ones only, if any), zero waste food shopping, and not even recycled plastic products anymore.
Refuse & Re-Use, because Recycling Won’t Work
I have mentioned H&M’s “conscious” line before in my post about organic kids’ clothes. But they have organic and now recycled clothes for adults, too. Premiering this month is their 2018 “Conscious Exclusive” collection. They write: “News in this year’s collection includes dresses made in ECONYL®, a 100 per cent regenerated fibre made from fishnets and other nylon waste, and silver accessories crafted from scrap metal such as discarded candlesticks. You will also find garments, shoes and accessories made in Tencel®, recycled polyester and organic linen.” The problem with this is that any kind of synthetic fiber will leach microfibers into our waterways every time we run the laundry. We’ll have to wean ourselves off synthetic fibers and learn to love cotton, wool, linen, hemp & similar clothing instead.
Searching for other recycled products, I found some recycled plastic hangers for sale and almost recommended those, but then I read about how most hangers are only used once in many stores and are then thrown away. So if you need hangers, go to your local department store and ask for some from the bin they have under the cash register! (And sign this petition to stop this egregious waste stream!)
Every day has got to be Earth Day from now on. As Jane Goodall says, “Every single individual matters. Every single individual makes some impact on the planet every single day. And we have a choice as to what kind of difference we’re going to make.” What difference will you make today?