Toys Made from Trash? Learn More about the Power of Recycling

recycle
Image via Flickr/ Andy Arthur

Can a beverage bottle come back as a designer bag? Could an empty milk jug be your next comb? You’ll be surprised to learn how many ways recycled plastics come back to life all around you when you do your part and recycle! According to the EPA, recycling can help conserve natural resources, reduce waste, prevent pollution, save energy, create jobs—and sustain the environment for future generations.

Statistics show, in 2014, Americans recycled more than 6 billion pounds of plastics. The impact goes beyond a clean environment. Those bottles can be recycled to make anything, from furniture to clothing to carpet, and much more. Green Living Expert Allyson Wilson joined EverydayFamily’s Shiloh on America Recycles Day (November 15) to discuss recycling and some of the benefits.

Watch the full interview here: 

Allyson Wilson reminded us that we need to think beyond plastic bottles. There are many other containers in the fridge are valuable plastic, beyond soda bottles and milk jugs. Think about that sour cream or yogurt container in your fridge too. Don’t just limit yourself to kitchen items either. Bathroom containers can be recycled – shampoo, conditioner, and soap containers, lotion bottles, and more can all be recycled. Even look at your laundry, garden, and car product containers, because many of those are recyclable as well.

Wilson also talked about recycling plastic bags, product overwrap (wrapped around your paper towels, for example), and plastic packing material (like bubble wrap). Wilson noted that you should not recycle product overwrap and plastic bags in your general recycling bin (they really gum up recycling equipment, and it costs a lot of time and money to clean those machines out). However, stores like Target, Walmart, Safeway, Lowes, and more major grocers and retailers have recycling bins at the front of their stores where you can recycle all your plastic bags, and those tricky other filmy plastic items. Save all your plastic bags and overwrap in one place, and drop them off the next time you are at one of the stores that recycle these plastics. Wilson added that these are very important items to recycle because they can come back as recycled lumber and building materials.

Speaking of recycled lumber and building materials, what is made with recycled materials?

Recycled plastic is going into much more than ever before. Patagonia puts recycled plastics in almost everything they make. The textile industry does a great job of using recycled materials, using them in fleece fabrics, backpacks, pet beds, and more. A company called Green Toys is a cool brand that makes toys out of recycled milk jugs.

Recycling also makes economic sense. For example, Americans generated an estimated $730 million in recycled plastic bottles in 2014! Recycling helps generate local revenue, support local recycling jobs, and enable us to continue to benefit from valuable resources. Here's the process: Once you put your recyclables in the bin they go to the municipal recycling facility where the recyclables are turned into bales. Those bales are sold to a recycler. The recycler melts down the bales and chops them up into little pellets. Those pellets are sold to a company that turns the plastic pellets into a new product, perhaps even your little one's next toy!

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“It’s a win-win for the environment and the economy.”

For more information about recycling, start locally. Check out your city or town website for guidance on what can be recycled where. Then, after you have more information, check out Plastics Make it Possible. You’ll find tons of great information about recycling plastic products on this site. Plus, to encourage all of us to minimize our impact on the environment this holiday season, Plastics Make it Possible® is offering some easy tips to reduce food waste and packaging waste, as well as a chance to win holiday gifts made with recycled plastics. (Need a new Patagonia coat? That’s one of the prizes!)

Wilson had a recycling tip of her own. She suggests that going to the dollar store, getting a few little trash bins or buckets, having your kids decorate them, and setting your new recycling bins in additional rooms in the house. It is much easier to recycle if there is a bin in every room.

Happy Holidays, and Happy Recycling!

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Toys Made from Trash? Learn More about the Power of Recycling

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