Recycling: How You Can "Close the Loop"

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Closed-loop recycling is a hot new buzz phrase in the eco-friendly community, but what exactly does it mean?

Quite simply, to "close the loop" means to support all 3 tenants of recycling: collection, manufacture and purchasing.

Sure, we all know that it's great for our community and our planet to recycle, and we happily collect and separate our aluminum cans, glass and plastic bottles, and paper waste every day. Or, if we're lucky, we have a city sponsored curbside service that makes recycling a breeze.

But the story doesn't end there.

Closed loop recycling encourages individuals to support the entire recycling process, from offering up their waste products for re-manufacturing to purchasing products made from recycled products. As consumers, we create a "loop" when we recycle and then use products made from recycled materials. We create an eco-conscious system where fewer virgin plastics, glass or paper products need to be produced. The energy and resources wasted on creating new bottles, packaging or print materials can be meaningfully spent to reinvent existing materials. 

Certain materials, such as steel, copper, aluminum or glass, can recycled indefinitely - they never erode or deteriorate to the point where they become too weak for reuse. Some products, like commercial paper towels, cannot be recycled at all. Closed loop recycling asks the consumer to take that one extra step - to consider the products they are buying and, when possible, opt for new items made from recycled materials.

Closed Loop Recycling:

  • Saves Natural Resources. Less fossil fuel waste for petroleum-based plastics. Fewer rainforests decimated for paper products. Less land devoted to drilling and mining for metals.
  • Saves Energy.  Did you know that it takes 95% less energy to recycle an aluminum can than it does to make a new can from raw materials? Making recycled steel saves 60%, recycled newspaper 40%, recycled plastics 70%, and recycled glass 40%. (Read more here)
  • Less Pollution.  Since it takes less energy to recycle than to manufacture from raw materials, less toxic emissions are released during production. Reducing the size of landfills is also a huge factor in reducing both air and ground water pollution.

So, what is the most effective way to close the loop?

Be a savvy shopper and drastically reduce those one-time-use convenience products. Bring your own glass water bottle instead of picking up a plastic bottle at the gas station. Switch from paper products, like napkins and paper towels, to good old-fashioned reusable cloth linens. And when you need new items, look for products that are made from recycled materials. Supporting companies who are dedicated to using recycled raw materials increases demand and keeps the recycling loop turning!

 

Below are some featured products from Ecotopia that are made from recycled materials. Click the photos for more info.

Afra Recycled Tire Handbag:

Green Eats Recycled Tumblers:

Recycled Metal "Love" Bowl:

Recycled Glass Earrings:

Artisan Recycled Glass Bowl:

Recycled Paper Stationery:

Recycled Cotton Tote Bag:

Reclaimed Metal Garden Chime:

Check out all of our eco-friendly recycled products HERE.

 


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