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Recycling for Fun and Profit

You mean I can get a recyclable carpet that's also eco friendly? Sign me up...

You mean I can get a recyclable carpet that's also eco friendly? Sign me up...

We recycle. I Freecycle. I try not to throw anything away. Still, every Tuesday and Friday a big garbage truck shows up at my home to take away our trash. It’s inevitable. With two kids and a trying-to-be-green husband, we make garbage. I’ll save you the boredom of its contents, but suffice it to say that our eco-friendly biodegradable bags are filled with non-recyclable packaging, paper towels, and diapers, among other things. I wish it was different. I wish I was like Taryn Zychal and her company Recycling Zychal. (I read about her while visiting Got2BeGreen.) Taryn makes blankets, aprons, dog and cat beds, and placemats from broken umbrellas and sells them on Etsy. She, and others like her, have been able to take items that would normally be just tossed into a landfill. After reading about Taryn’s work, I decided to go looking for other great recyclers ideas. Here’s who I found.

TerraCycle: Head over to this site, and you’ll find out where some of your candy bar wrappers, cookie wrappers, and juice box empties went. The company, which takes them in and pays people a few pennies per wrapper, has made them into bags, audio speakers, planters and more. It’s such a great idea that big box retailers and the manufacturers are involved, too helping to recover waste and get it to TerraCycle. Check out the photos of what’s available. There’s some cute stuff. Even better, get your workplace or school involved in a wrapper recycling program. You can sign up here.

ClothesMadeFromScrap. If a company can make a bag out of old plastic, why couldn’t someone make a dress or a shirt or some pants? They can, of course. This site features plenty of options (note to company: get better photography). For example, caps and visors are available that are basically your old soda bottles — but cooler-looking.

Vulcana. Whenever you see a junkyard in a movie, there are always rubber tires dotting the landscape. It’s not far from reality. It’s really hard to recycle old tires, and yet we generate 290 million each year, according to the EPA. They are nasty items, and can contain “pollutants harmful to human health including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), benzene, styrene, phenols, and butadiene.” Uggg. For a while, people were using rubber pellets to line schoolyard and playgrounds. (FYI: The EPA is looking into the safety of such use.) Another use: Highway sound barriers and railroad ties. This company, however, has come up with another way to recycle those old tires: Mixing it with hemp to create textiles including a leather-like material. Not sure I want to wear old tires, but I might be persuaded to buy luggage made out of the stuff.

FLOR: One thing I see a lot of in my neighborhood is rolled up rugs. They don’t last forever, and get replaced every few years. FLOR has a great idea. It sells eco-friendly carpeting in the form of carpet tiles. Once you’re done with them, you send them back so they can be recycled into new tiles. Love the idea. Love the fact that they are non-toxic, formaldehyde-free antimicrobial and don’t use glue or adhesives to hold them down. I love them so much I’m ordering a sampler kit to see how they would look in my house. I need area rugs for both of the girls. This looks like an amazing option.

How much trash do you generate each week? Are you making an effort to cut down on what you toss? What’s the best going green tip you’ve heard recently? I’d love to hear about it.

3 Responses to “Recycling for Fun and Profit”

  1. Christina says:

    Great post, Karen. I am a big fan of FLOR tiles–in theory–but I think they work better as wall-to-wall carpeting. I bought some to make an area rug for my girls’ room a few years ago, and the tiles were forever coming apart–which was annoying and also looked bad. Maybe they’ve improved the adhesive on the tiles, or maybe other people have better luck. I see the catalog all the time and I love all the cool designs–but I am wary about using them without walls as borders to keep them under control.

  2. MarthaandMe says:

    I truly had no idea any of these were out there. I’d heard of FLOR but didn’t know you could recycle them. This is awesome

  3. susan delg says:

    I’ve worked with one of these companies and had a not-so-great experience. Not sure I want to elaborate too much on this, but I can tell you that what I thought was a very good idea was brought to market in a less than professional manner. That coupled with the fact that the environmental aspect of the company did not represent the personal beliefs of the CEO did not sit well with me. He was in it solely for the money. Sometimes what seems too good to be true really is. That being said, at home we recycle and reuse everything we can. I compost all my compostables, and hand down toys, books, clothes, furniture, you name it!

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