According to Zero Waste Canada, a Vancouver-based advocacy group, an estimated 540,000 tonnes of waste are generated from gift-wrapping and shopping bags each holiday season. 6 million rolls of tape are used to wrap presents, and household waste can increase by more than 25%.
January is the perfect time to take a step back from the commodification and commercialization of December. As we look to the year ahead, it’s a great idea to also take a hard look at our individual carbon footprints and how we as consumers impact the Earth.
The items below are all useful, design-savvy, and innovative—and best of all, they’re all made from recycled materials. Read on to find out how you can do some ethical shopping this month.
Image via Verve Culture
This tortilla press from Verve Culture is, believe it or not, made from old Singer sewing machines! These and other recycled parts are used to create a device that produces perfect tortillas every time—chewy in the middle and crispy around the edges. The cast iron was chosen for its ability to provide a flat, uniform press, as well as for the fact that it is extremely durable. The retro-chic, lead-free paint prevents rust, and it also provides a bit of flair that makes this kitchen staple a showstopper. Once you start making tortillas from scratch, trust us…there’s no going back to the store-bought varieties!
Image via Rothy’s
The Merino Collection from Rothy’s is filled with comfy-casual flats ranging from the reliable neutrals to the bold, colourful statement pieces. Each pair of shoes is knit from a blend of premium merino wool (which is humanely and sustainably harvested) and the company’s signature thread, which is spun from repurposed plastic water bottles. The outsoles are crafted from vegan leather. These shoes gently hug the contour of your foot and prevent heels from slipping; you can also throw them in the washing machine to keep this guilt-free footwear looking and feeling as new as the day they were purchased.
Image via Green Toys
Green Toys makes colourful, classic toys for children—think plastic wagons, tea sets, tugboats, and tractors. They also happen to be made from 100% recycled plastic. The California-based company uses recycled milk jugs (and occasionally other plastic materials like yoghurt cups) to make its products, and every pound of recycled milk jugs saves enough energy to power 3,000 AAA batteries, a TV for 3 weeks, or a laptop for 1 month. The plastic is carefully cleaned and infused with food-safe, mineral-based dye to create these colourful, playful products.
Image via Patagonia
Open the website of American clothing company Patagonia and the first thing you’ll see is a banner boldly promising “Everything but the teeth.” The reason? Every part of the brand’s Better Sweater collection is made from recycled materials—with the sole exception of the zipper teeth. Patagonia’s approach to ethical and eco-manufacturing applies to every aspect of the business, from its facility construction techniques to its textile sourcing. Organic cotton, recycled nylon, 100% recycled down, and fabric made primarily from wood scraps or tree pulp can all be found in Patagonia’s lineup of adventure-friendly outdoor gear.
Image via Looptworks
Looptworks is a design brand with a mission: to make its products from materials that already exist. Its products, which range from apparel to messenger bags and tablet cases, are all crafted from materials that were bound for the landfill or incinerators. Looptworks upcycles these items and transforms them into fashionable bags and accessories in a sustainable, eco-friendly process. The company’s ultimate goal is to work towards closed-loop (or “Loopt”) solutions in manufacturing, a mission that inspired the name. By refusing to use virgin materials, Looptworks is helping to lower the disposal of excess materials, reduce emissions, and improve the fashion industry’s carbon footprint.
Image via Freitag
The minimalist totes and fanny packs of Freitag are made with yet another surprising material: used truck tarps! This rough material is far from soft, light, and flexible, and so a team of designers set out to find a material that would juxtapose these shortcomings and make for the perfect bag. They found the answer in recycled PET bottles, and through a water-saving manufacturing process, the company produces lightweight, multi-purpose bags that are ideal for shopping, trips to the gym, or for carrying books and snacks for an afternoon in the park.
Image via Outerknown
“We’re surfers who grew up with surf brands, but we grew out of logos. And we want to wear clothing that’s made better and looks better,” says John Moore, co-founder of Outerknown, on the company’s website. He and 11-time World Surf League Champion Kelly Slater founded the clothing company to create conscientious clothing that limits the massive environmental impact of the fashion industry. According to Outerknown, 70% of a company’s environmental impact happens at the raw material level, and the brand makes careful decisions when it comes to sourcing its textiles. For instance, its premium nylon jackets and board shorts are made from recycled fishing nets and nylon surplus!
Image via Bureo
Bureo is one of those brands that comes across as effortlessly cool, and its line of skateboards, sunglasses, threads, and miscellaneous goods are the Gen Z version of skatepark chic. The brand works hard alongside several non-profit partners to reduce the amount of plastic (approximately 18 billion pounds) being dumped into the ocean each year. Bureo also works with fisheries and communities to provide incentivized programs for collecting, cleaning, sorting, and transforming fishing nets into the company’s NetPlus™ material. The company teamed up with Costa Sunglasses to produce the Untangled Collection, a line of sunglasses constructed from 100% recycled fishing nets and mineral glass lenses.
Image via Soma
Opting for reusable water bottles instead of single-use plastics is good environmental practice to start with, and when the company making those reusable water bottles is as eco-minded as Soma, the potential for positive environmental impact is impressive. This certified B-corporation operates with 4 pillars of social responsibility: working to end the global water crisis by donating to charitable water projects with the revenues from each purchase, using post-consumer waste and recyclable materials to create green products and packaging, reducing global impact by offsetting emissions with conservation-based forestry, and working with responsible supply chain partners.
Image via Preserve
A native of rural Western Massachusetts, Eric Hudson grew up with a fondness and appreciation for the natural world. As an adult working in the finance and consulting sectors, he longed to apply his professional skills to protecting the environment. After studying the recycling system, he noticed that while the number of people who recycle keeps growing, the number of manufacturers putting those recycled materials to good use does not. He therefore founded Preserve to bridge that gap. Today the company produces toothbrushes, razors, food containers, and more—all made from recycled materials like yoghurt cups.