Recycling is taking many different forms these days. From hiking gear to toys for kids, shoppers can find innovative items that are made from 100 percent recycled materials, like milk jugs, discarded fabric and all those plastic water bottles. As the following companies illustrate, manufacturers and retailers can use all kinds of materials to create stunning, if not luxurious, products for consumers. Together, these companies are reducing waste, lowering carbon emissions and keeping more plastic out of the ocean. Learn more about some of the most well-known companies that are going all in on recycling:
This innovative California-based company sells children’s toys made from recycled milk jugs. They’ve already recycled more than 55 million milk jugs and counting since the company went into business more than 10 years ago. Safety is a major priority for the company, especially since it sells to parents with young children. Their toys pass domestic and international safety and environmental regulations with flying colors. Committed to sustainable shipping, their boxes are even printed with soy ink, which biodegrades four times faster than petroleum-based inks. Even in a progressive state like California, the company shines as an example of the power of recycling.
Claiming to make the world’s most comfortable shoes, Allbirds is known for making footwear from 100 percent recycled materials, including sheep’s wool, recycled cardboard and plastic and castor bean oil. But, don’t worry about the sheep! The company works with sustainable farming and animal welfare groups to make sure their livestock are well taken care of, healthy and happy. Compared to a company that sells synthetic shoes, Allbirds uses around 60 percent less energy during the manufacturing process, allowing consumers to feel good about wearing out another pair of shoes.
Having recycled more than 12 million water bottles, Rothy’s uses recycled plastic to make fashionable shoes that are designed for women on the go. What looks like knitted fabric from a distance is actually strands of plastic woven together, which helps the customer avoid walking around in wet shoes all day. The plastic also helps the shoe feel flexible, making it the perfect choice for those who are on their feet all day. Unlike synthetic plastic sandals that can get sweaty and feel stiff, the finely knitted plastic allows for a greater range of movement. Not to mention, their packages are sturdy and reusable. Their customers can use them for storage, shipping or as a recycle bin organizer.
When someone buys a watch at WeWOOD, the company will plant a tree in their honor. They’ve already planted more than 600,000 trees in collaboration with Trees For The Future, a nonprofit that’s determined to restore the earth’s natural woodlands. Planting trees is also a great way to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere. A single tree is capable of absorbing up to 48 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. In addition to increasing the earth’s total tree count, all their watches are made with 100 percent recycled wood and reclaimed wood. Their products are also free of toxic materials that are often used to treat wood.
The team behind the clothing company Recover Brands believes in using all kinds of recycled materials to make their products, including everything from cotton swept off the factory floor to polyester made from recycled plastic barrels and soda bottles. Bill Johnson and John Riddle are avid outdoorsmen who are doing everything they can to preserve the natural environment that they cherish so much. The company has even reduced the amount of dye in their products, completely eliminated plastic packaging and improved their manufacturing process to reduce their overall energy use. They sell all kinds of clothing for men, women, children and outdoor gear for hiking, swimming and camping.
Selling all kinds of outdoor gear and clothing, Cotopaxi uses sustainable llama wool and what would be discarded fabric to make their products. They minimize their waste and use as much of the fabric as possible instead of just tossing the scraps on the floor. The company even reserves 2 percent of their total revenue for fighting world poverty. They’re also committed to several causes, including improving healthcare and education in the poorest regions in the world and creating opportunity in economically underdeveloped countries.
Looptworks sells many different types of bags and accessories made from recycled materials. The company’s name is derived from what’s known as closed-loop manufacturing, which means only using recycled products to create something new during the manufacturing process. Operating out of Portland, Oregon, the company works with those who would otherwise stash their waste in the landfill to gather their manufacturing materials. This significantly reduces the amount of garbage in the region and minimizes carbon emissions. The company is also officially recognized as a B corporation, a special distinction given to certain companies with an aggressive commitment to environmental sustainability.
TerraCycle loves waste. The company collects virtually any type of discarded item and sells it to other companies – those that collect used goods – and even municipalities. So many items are perceived as non-recyclable because they’re too messy or they don’t seem to fit into any particular category like plastic or glass, but TerraCycle has the network and the resources to reuse pretty much any type of product, which allows them to make a profit from taking a person’s unwanted items. Those looking to recycle can just type a product name into the search bar to see if the company will accept it.
These companies are truly reinventing the term recycling. Not only do these products help the consumer feel better about their shopping choices, they’re also fashionable, practical and durable. Another thing these companies have in common is their commitment to transparency. They believe in educating consumers about their manufacturing and recycling methods, so their customers can share this information with their friends and loved ones. It creates a more meaningful relationship between the company and the consumer, one based on a mutual commitment to sustainability
While producing 100-percent recycled goods may be a tall order, it’s never too late to start down a path towards sustainability. You can use these sustainable business tips to forge a brighter future for your company:
1. Look for Alternatives
Take stock of your suppliers and look for more sustainable alternatives. Working with suppliers that use 100 percent or partially recycled materials can help you position your company as a leader in sustainability. Look for suppliers that use renewable resources and forgo artificial ingredients and synthetic chemicals. Some of these suppliers may even cost less than your current business partners. Keep exploring and don’t be afraid to build new business partnerships.
2. Reduce Waste
If your business produces waste during the manufacturing process, such as scrap metal or plastic, look for ways to reuse these resources or donate them to a good cause. Even if it costs you a little bit of time and money, turning this waste into something new helps you reduce your company’s impact on the environment.
3. Be More Flexible
Businesses tend to focus on convenience during the manufacturing process. But this addiction can blind you to the unsustainable aspects of your business. Look for ways to reduce energy use, save water, and use sustainable resources even if it means making the manufacturing process more complicated. You can use these sustainable business practices to attract new customers and make up for these added costs.
4. Get Green Certified
If you feel like you’re flying blind when it comes to sustainability, you don’t have to go it alone. Organizations like Green Business Bureau are here to help guide businesses like yours through this process. After joining as a member, your business can begin taking the steps to become green certified, which will help you attract more environmentally-conscious consumers.
Sustainability doesn’t have to be an uphill challenge. If you’re willing to change your approach to business, you can easily incorporate these practices into the manufacturing process, find new solutions and become a leader in sustainability today!
David Madden is an efficiency expert, as well as being the Founder and President of Container Exchanger and ExchangerHub. His passion and business is to save companies money through the use of used reusable and repurposed industrial packaging such as plastic and metal bulk containers, gaylord boxes, bulk bags, pallets, ibc totes, and industrial racks.