Eco Friendly Green Shopping in 2018

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Being green in 2018 is a lot more difficult, the recycling landscape has changed, forcing us to make major changes.

Recycling is Dead

The US had exported roughly 50% of its plastics to China every year. In 2011, we sold China $10.8 billion in metal and paper scraps for recycling. They used the plastic that they receive to create other products, then China essentially stopped taking our recyclables in the last year or two.

Why? In February 2013, the Chinese Government issued tighter standards with regards to recycled plastic that is imported. This was known as Operation Green Fence. Plastic clam shells (strawberry containers, sandwich containers) known as number 1 are required to be placed with plastic 3 – 7, which are lower grade and often contaminated. China was now inspecting everything and anything contaminated was not allowed into the country.

Contamination typically occurs because the plastic is not washed to remove contaminates before being recycled. Consumers need to understand that it is important to clean their plastic before recycling. Also to not recycle the wrong items.

Because there is little recycling reprocessing done in the US, there is a danger that all this contaminated plastic will not be recycled as you had intended it. Products will just end up in a landfill like trash.

It is time to reduce and not just recycle.  Here are some tips on help you become more green.

Greener Amazon Package Recycling

Amazon makes up over 50% of online shopping. We noticed that Amazon starting placing special recycling labels from how2recycle.info on the envelopes and packages. They help tell consumers how and where to recycle the item. Some of this information is not obvious. Target, Walmart, Nestle, General Mills and others are also using this Smarter Label System. Great!

Environmentally Friendly Gifts

Allbirds Shoes

Allbirds are some of the hottest and most comfortable shoes today. They opened an entirely new category of shoes inspired by natural materials like merino wool, eucalyptus tree fiber, and sugar cane, all shipped in recycled packaging.

Everlane

Everlane is an online clothing brand based in San Francisco that prides itself on: Exceptional quality. Ethical factories. Radical Transparency.

  • Each factory they use, is given a compliance audit to evaluate factors like fair wages, reasonable hours, and environment.
  • They want you to wear our pieces for years, even decades, to come. That’s why they source the finest materials like Grade-A cashmere sweaters, Italian shoes, and Peruvian Pima tees.
  • Everlane reveals the true costs behind all of their products—from materials to labor to transportation

Reusable Straws and Cups

A huge amount of controversy arose in 2018 when people realized straws could not be recycled and were filling landfills.

Starbucks announced it will eliminate single-use plastic straws from its more than 28,000 company operated and licensed stores by making a sippy cup like - strawless lid or alternative-material straw options available, around the world by 2020 with plans to serve iced coffee, tea, and espresso drinks with the recyclable strawless lids. For Starbucks, the change came in response to growing pressure to ditch plastic straws, which can end up as waste in the ocean and eventually turn into microplastic in the food chain. Lightweight straws can’t make it through recycling equipment. Seattle banned plastic straws on July 1 ,2018.

In March 2018, Starbucks joined forces with an investment firm s and committed $10 million to launch the NextGen Cup Consortium and Challenge. About 600 billion paper cups are distributed around the world each year, and Starbucks cups account for about 1% of them.

Paper cups at Starbucks are currently made with 10% post-consumer recycled fiber. According to Starbucks, improving the cups could allow more composting facilities to process the cups and keep them from ending up in landfills.

McDonalds started testing alternative straws in 2018 as the non plastic movement was gaining steam.

The ultimate is a stainless-steel Metal straw that can be washed and reused.  They cost about $8 on amazon for a set of 8, along with a cleaning pipette.  Larger diameter ones are available for boba tea drinks and smoothie drinks.

While you are at it, buy a reusable coffee / beverage container and bring it to the store.  Starbucks has even offered a discount for using it.  Someday McDonalds will let you use your own container too.

Eco friendly gift wrap

 

It is time to wrap up those gifts. Here are some ideas for eco friendly or green gift wrap that will not end up in a land fill. Gift wrapping paper, holiday cards and boxes that are 100 percent paper can be recycled. Foil, plastic coating and glitter cannot be put into recycle bins. Plastic bottles, jars, tubs and buckets are the only plastics that you can recycle at home. Check with your local recycling firm for details

1) Use materials that can be reused, dish cloths, reusable shopping bags, etc.

2) Do not use ribbons or bows that are not recyclable.

3) Use recycled wrapping paper – Recycled aluminum foil?

4) Use a recyclable but festive gift bag or sack

5) Skip wrapping paper

6) Brown paper bag

7) Newspaper

Is it more Green to Shop online or Buy in Store?

We have reviewed many Websites offering their analysis and found it is really hard to come up with a definitive answer. The Sierra club draws the same conclusion. Here are some tips that will reduce your energy footprint.

Ways to make your in store shopping better:

Visit a mall or strip mall where you can visit multiple stores

Shop for multiple items at once

Carpool or take public transportation

Plan ahead to minimize returns

Eat there at the mall or buy Groceries there

Tips for Eco Friendly Online Shopping:

Use slowest shipping option

Ship items direct to people

Buy more than 1 item at a time

Carefully shop, do not buy impulse items

Conclusion

Recycling is just not enough any more. Consumers need to change their behavior. We hope you are inspired to do your part to reduce your footprint and save some money too.

 

Do you have other suggestions? Leave a comment below:

 

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