R is for Rebuy
Ah, the last of the R’s. Rebuy. a.k.a. “closing the loop”. And quite possibly my favorite one, because it includes shopping. The idea behind the Rebuy R is to purchase environmentally friendly products as well as products made from recycled content. Simple. Now, with grocery costs going sky high, I get that people want to pinch pennies wherever they can. Easily enough, because of the growing popularity of recycled content goods, it is getting easier and cheaper to get these products. And the more we purchase these goods, the more popular and cheaper they will become.
I get not seeing the importance of this one, so I’ll try to make it clear as a whistle. First, you are supporting a very important industry. The companies that make products out of recycled materials need to have a market to sell their stuff. Also, these products are made with a lot of great manufacturing jobs here in the U.S. Not everything is, but definitely a good amount. Secondly, by purchasing recycled content goods you are saving natural resources. For example, it can take 90 years to grow a box of facial tissues. Also, less than 20% of our paper comes from tree farms. This means that if you are using virgin trees for your paper needs, most likely a diverse forest was cut down so you could wipe your nose, face, and butt. yoinks! For these items that you can not recycle, the only environmentally sound response is to purchase things that have already gone through the process as much as they could have.
Even if you only occasionally rebuy, the impacts can be enormous. According to Seventh Generation, a company that makes disposable paper goods out of completely recycled content, if every household in the U.S. replaced just one roll of 1,000 sheet virgin fiber bathroom tissues with a 100% recycled roll, we could save 373,000 trees, 1.48 million cubic feet of landfill space, & 155 million gallons of water. So there you go, a very little action. If you can’t continually purchase recycled paper goods, do so every other time and go home happy.
While paper products made from recycled paper products are a fantastic start, consider these other materials that are made from your recycled goods.
Aluminum — sold to the Anheuser Busch company to make new aluminum cans for a plethora of products
Glass — can be made into new glass bottles, glassphalt (the new sparkley roads), kitchen and bath tile
Steel — anything. Almost all steel products today have some recycled content.
Plastic bottles & jugs #1 — carpet from the Mohawk company. Other big buyers (although not of our local material) include Patagonia fleece clothing. This is a really cool process where the plastic is melted into a polyester-like thread which can be spun into almost any fabric product.
Plastic bottles & jugs #2 — more bottles and jugs for motor oil. Another big buyer (although, again not from us) is Trex plastic decking. Don’t even get me started on how great it would be to have had this stuff when I was a kid so my entire summer wasn’t spent scrapping, painting, burning in the sun. My mother said it built character. I disagree.
One more note about labels. If an item says it has recycled content that is good. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean they purchased the stuff from a MRF. For example, when they cut paper into sheets there are always scraps. These scraps can be recycled on site very easily and are technically considered recycled content, even though they have never been outside of that paper mill. While you are still getting the environmental benefits of recycling paper, the economic full circle is not in place. If an item says it has post-consumer recycled content, even better. This means the materials have been previously used by a real live consumer who made the effort to get them in the recycling bin so they could be turned into something new. Not only do you get the environmental benefits from this product, but you are contributing to the recycling economy by ‘closing the loop’.
Ta-da! Saving the world one shopping trip at a time.
So there it is. The final R. I hope this little series has encouraged you to pay a little more attention to the 5 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot, and Rebuy. If you use any other products made from recycled content material, we would love to here about them – just post them after this entry.