Repurpose on Purpose

Written by Bill Tanzer


With the advent of large-scale recycling programs, recycling has been a regular way of life for decades. Although there are those who choose not to take part, the option is widespread. A recent study conducted by Moore Recycling Associates notes that more than 90% of the American population has access to recycling. Glass and bottles separated from paper and left curbside are sorted by commodity and used in the manufacturing of new products.

The fashion outlet Littleearth actually makes a business out of recycling products into “eco-fashion” – by taking seatbelts, hubcaps and license plates and turning them into belts, purses and wine caddies. (The company also offers fender plate bags featuring sports team logos, from baseball to hockey, football to basketball.)

Not only do many Americans recycle, but prefer to do business with companies that also do so, and not just on Earth Day (April 22) but every day of the year. Recently, the National Restaurant Association conducted a survey showing that three out of five consumers prefer to visit restaurants that recycle, including food packaging and on-site receptacles. This consumer mindset scales many industries. So drycleaners encourage the return of plastic hangers. Office supply stores set up drop-off bins for batteries, while grocery stores around the country display receptacles for the return of plastic bags. Even Ziplock sandwich bags can be dropped off for recycling in some locations.

Despite a disposable, mass-produced goods society, a good deal of consumers still like taking a product and reusing it several times before discarding, especially the packaging. Big brown empty boxes are reused for moving or storage, shirt boxes often are the perfect size for wrapping gifts. Some pizza boxes which tear into equal sections, forming plates for guests, are dual designed and a selling point for the eco-conscious. Shopping bags, whether paper or plastic, are constantly reused on a daily basis for a ton of different reasons. It’s hard to go through a day without seeing a shopping bag. One inventor, Akinori Ito of Japan, http://cleantechnica.com/2011/02/14/award-winning-inventor-makes-fuel-from-plastic-bags/ has found a way to turn plastic bags into crude oil.

Americans use billions and billions of bags annually. The average consumer takes home at least 600 grocery bags and as many as 1,200 bags annually, more for those who make two trips per week to the supermarket. What kind of bag is your establishment offering?

June 6, 2011

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