Plastic is one of the most commonly used materials in the world. It is cheap to produce and can be molded into just about any shape or size. This makes it a popular choice for many products.
However, plastic is also one of the most harmful materials when it comes to the environment.
It takes centuries for plastic to decompose, and during that time it can contaminate soil and water supplies. There are also huge quantities of plastic floating in our oceans, which has a hazardous effect on marine life.
This is why more and more companies are starting to produce recycled plastic products. By changing our purchasing habits, we can help combat plastic pollution.
Today, we will discuss some of the everyday products that are made from recycled plastic, and where to get them.
Recycled plastic is simply plastic waste that has been collected and processed so that it can be used again instead of thrown away.
This helps to reduce the amount of waste in oceans and landfills, and it also cuts down on the need to produce new plastic (the manufacturing process for virgin plastic can also be harmful to the environment).
All plastic items carry a plastic recycling symbol which tells you what type of plastic it is made from. You can then figure out whether it can be recycled, and how to dispose of it correctly.
At a plastic recycling plant, plastics are initially sorted mechanically and then cleaned.
It can then be shredded, or melted into pellets and reformed into whatever shape is required.
Some companies use recycled plastic to create new plastic products, while others may use it to create textile fiber or even building materials.
It's surprising how many things can be made from recycled milk jugs, plastic bottles, or other items these days. You might own some recycled plastic products already and not even realize it!
PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) is the easiest type of plastic to recycle, and also the most common.
Buying virgin plastic bottles is one of the worst things you can do. Recycled plastic bottles are now readily available, and are popular with environmentally conscious consumers because they can be recycled multiple times.
Many leading drinks manufacturers are now committed to only using 100% recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate bottles, including Evian.
Of course, the most sustainable way to drink water is to buy a reusable water bottle and refill it yourself.
But if you do need to buy bottled water, it is now much easier to get it in recycled bottles.
The majority of shampoo and toiletry bottles are made from PET plastic. This includes both the outer packaging and the inner bottle.
In fact, around 80% of all PET plastic is used for packaging.
As with water bottles, it is now possible to find shampoo and toiletry bottles that are made entirely from recycled plastics.
You can also find zero waste shampoo and conditioner brands that use only sustainable packaging and don't come in a plastic bottle at all.
Many laundry detergent bottles are also often made from PET plastic, including some of the bigger name brands you can buy in the supermarket.
Again, while this is obviously much better than buying virgin plastic bottles, you can also find some brands that make eco-friendly detergent that uses no plastic at all in its packaging.
These tend to be the same brands that also use no harmful chemicals that can pollute the water supply.
Toothbrushes are another everyday product that can be made from recycled plastic.
In fact, many toothbrushes on the market are now made from 100% recycled polypropylene (#5).
This is fine if you're using an electric brush and head, and as long as you remember to recycle your toothbrush again after use.
However, an even better option is to buy a biodegradable bamboo toothbrush that is made from sustainable material which can be either commercially or domestically composted after use.
There are a number of companies that now make cups, plates, and other dinnerware from recycled plastic.
Our roundup of eco-friendly dinnerware brands will point you in the right direction.
They're good quality and long-lasting. Plus, it's a great way to add a bit of color to your table!
Many grocery stores now sell reusable bags made from recycled plastic.
These bags for life have had a huge impact on cutting down on plastic waste, particularly in states and countries that have banned single-use plastic bags or started compulsory charges for them.
Simply get yourself a few reusable bags and take them with you every time you head to the supermarket.
While we're on the subject of how bad plastic bags are, it's worth mentioning that trash bags can also be made from recycled plastic.
In fact, many leading brands now offer garbage bags that are made entirely from recycled materials.
But an even better way to reduce plastic waste is to use biodegradable trash bags instead.
If you're looking for an eco-friendly yoga mat, there are a few brands that make them from recycled plastic.
But others make their yoga mats from other sustainable or recycled materials such as natural rubber or cork. I even saw one mat made from recycled wetsuits!
Just be sure to check the materials before you buy, as some cheaper mats are made from PVC, which is not biodegradable.
It's now possible to buy pens and pencils that are made from recycled plastic.
In fact, some leading brands even have collections of eco-friendly pens and pencils that are made from post-consumer waste.
Again though, some of the most eco-friendly writing utensils are made from bamboo and do not contain plastic at all.
There are a number of companies that now make mailers and stationery from recycled plastic.
If you're sending a parcel or letter, consider using one of the many great plastic-free mailers instead, they create a great impression with your customers and are much better for the environment.
But if you receive a recycled plastic mailer, it's not the end of the world, providing you remember to recycle it again instead of throwing it in the trash!
Yes, even diapers can be made from recycled plastic!
This is one I'm not particularly comfortable with though because used diapers don't tend to get cleaned, responsibly sorted, and put in a recycling bin!
That means that even if a diaper is made from recycled materials, it's hardly likely to get recycled again.
Far better to use eco-friendly compostable diapers instead.
Did you know that recycled plastic shoes are now a thing?
In fact, many sustainable fashion brands now offer shoes that are made from recycled plastic soda bottles, jugs, and other eco-friendly materials.
Recycled shoes can be stylish, comfortable, and durable, as well as being much better for the environment.
They also tend to come from eco-friendly shoe manufacturers that have higher ethical standards and fair labor practices.
It's much cooler to wear shoes made from old plastic bottles than ones made in a Chinese sweatshop.
There are a number of companies that now make backpacks from recycled plastics.
In fact, many of them use post-consumer waste as their main source of recycled plastic.
So, if you're looking for a way to reduce your impact on the environment, make sure to check out these options!
Did you know that furniture can be made from recycled plastic?
In fact, many brands now offer furniture that is made from recycled and sustainable materials.
Recycled plastic furniture can be stylish, comfortable, and durable, as well as being much better for the environment.
There are a number of companies that now make green toys and gifts from recycled plastic.
It's a good way to teach kids about the importance of environmental sustainability or to give a thoughtful eco-friendly gift to someone to show you care about the planet.
It's now possible to buy rugs and carpets that are made from recycled plastic.
Melted recycled plastic bottles can be spun into carpet fibers, which can then be used to make eco-friendly mats and rugs, or even entire rolls of carpeting.
Did you know that recycled plastic can be used to make car parts?
In fact, many leading car manufacturers, including General Motors, Chrysler, Toyota, Nissan, and Honda, make the fascias and internal fittings for their vehicles out of recycled plastics.
Recycled plastic car parts can be just as strong and durable as traditional parts, but they're much better for the environment.
What is the one way in which it's acceptable for plastic materials to end up in the ocean? When they're recycled and used to make fishing nets of course!
So in the same way that recycled fishing nets can be repurposed once they reach their end of life, recycled ocean plastics can be put to good use in making new nets to replace them. There's no need to use virgin plastics any more.
OK, I said there was only one way in which plastic should be allowed in the ocean. But here's a second.
Brands like Wolven and Marda have caused a splash (sorry) by making a range of ethical swimwear from recycled plastic bottles.
They look pretty good too!
PVC is one of the toughest types of plastic, and traditionally it has rarely been recycled. However, one use is to turn it into things that need to be made from more durable materials, such as traffic cones and barricades.
It's also used in other traffic control items like speed bumps.
There is a growing trend to turn tough plastics like PVC into building materials. Window frames, fencing, and decking are all possible alternative uses as well.
You can also find recycled PVC used in garage floor tiles, guttering, and drainage pipes.
Check the materials of any plastic products before you buy them. That way you know whether they can be recycled after the end of their life, and what you need to do with them.
Our guide to plastic recycling symbols will give you all the information you need.
Many everyday items are now made from recycled plastic, so by choosing these products over their traditional counterparts, you can help reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills and oceans.
You don't have to sacrifice style or functionality when you go green! There are a number of companies that now make everyday items from recycled plastic, so it's easy to find products that fit your needs.
But remember, there are many alternative products that don't contain plastic at all. I've listed a few examples above. It is almost always better to buy something made of sustainable materials ahead of any type of plastic, recycled or otherwise.
Of course, if you want to truly go zero-waste, the very best option is to try to reuse what you have before buying anything new at all.
In this article, we’ve covered a variety of ways that you can reduce your use of plastic in everyday life.
From opting for products made from recycled plastic to reducing the amount of single-use items you buy (or even better yet, using reusable options), there are plenty of easy things you can do to help make a difference.
We all have a role to play in reducing the amount of plastic waste we produce, and every little bit counts. So let's all do our part and work together to keep our planet healthy!