Buy Recycled!

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Did you know that recycling doesn’t end when you drop your stuff in the bin?

Hopefully, you already recycle your empty containers at home, work and on the go.  If not, why not?

Recycling is such an important step to keep valuable materials out of the landfill and in the economy, not to mention that it prevents pollution and creates jobs!

It’s time to complete the cycle of recycling – BUY recycled!   It’s just as important to BUY products made with recycled content (PCR) as it is to recycle.  

Our consumer choices have an impact far beyond the register.  We simply have to stop extracting resources from the Earth and use what we already have. To unlock all those environmental and economic benefits that come with recycling, our recyclables have to make their way into new products.

In other words…you already recycle. Now it’s time to Buy Recycled.

Difference Between Recyclable and Recycled?

In a nutshell, a recyclable product means that it can be collected and remanufactured into new products. If there is ONE machine, in ONE facility in Sweden that has the ability to recycle something, it can be called recyclable.  But the reality is that an item like that isn’t WIDELY recycled, meaning that it is not likely collected and processed into reusable materials.  A recycled product means that it actually has been collected and remanufactured into new products.

A truly sustainable product is both recyclable and recycled. Unfortunately, not everything that is recyclable has recycled content, and not everything that has recycled content is also recyclable.

Why Buy Recycled?

When you buy recycled, you’re making sure that the empty containers you put in your recycling bin are actually made back into new products – completing the circle.

Companies will keep extracting new raw materials from the Earth unless given a reason not to. The best way they’ll listen? Take it right to their bottom line!  Purchase recycled products and products that contain recycled content over those that contain all new, virgin materials! 

What To Look For

Find labels and product descriptions that say “made with recycled content” or “post-consumer content.”

“Post-consumer” (PCR) means that the recycled material used in your product came from recycling bins. This is the gold standard of recycled content!

Is it Easy to Find Recycled Products?

Yes! Buying recycled is easy. Recycled products are all around you. A lot of products you already purchase can be swapped for recycled versions. Check out A Shopper’s Guide To Buying Recycled and where to find recycled products.

Whether you’re shopping at your local store or online, you’re bound to find something recycled. Especially online, you’ll find a huge array of choices to fit practically every need. From food, cleaning, and personal care products all the way to clothes and exercise mats!

Are Recycled Products Cheaper?

Sometimes. Just like anything else, recycled products span a wide range of price points. Some are cheaper, some are about the same as their non-recycled equivalents, and some are more expensive. Lots of recycled products are durable and made to last, giving you more value for your dollars.

Recycled content isn’t usually a main driver of price. Many companies that use recycled content are also looking at the sustainability of their product as a whole. The quality of ingredients, how they’re sourced, and whether the brand is going for an upscale look will all lead to a more expensive product.

Plus, remember the old mantra: reduce, reuse, recycle. Buying recycled isn’t about buying more. It’s about buying smart. Sustainable shopping is being conscious about what you do and don’t need in your cart.

When you shop, shop your values. Not every sustainable product is going to be the same or cheaper than its virgin  equivalent. Some sellers mark up sustainable products, whether it is because of the perceived higher value of the product or because they are passing along the higher cost of the material, itself.

That’s where YOU come in – when YOU buy products with recycled content, you are feeding the demand, hopefully driving the supply up and bringing the price down longer-term.

Just like we demanded organic, we can demand recycled content, too. Think of organic fruits and veggies. They used to be hard to find and beyond most budgets.

But people bought them. So, more companies started producing them and they became more widely available at lower prices. By now, many grocery stores carry a selection of organic foods and they are getting more affordable over time. It’s a huge win. We can do the same for recycled products!

Can Recycled Products Be Recycled Again?

The short answer is yes. Whether a specific product is recyclable depends on what it is and where you are. This is true of any item, regardless of whether or not it contains recycled content. While all plastic is recyclable, most programs typically collect & process onl #1 (PET), #2 (HDPE) & #5 (PP).  These materials are absolutely recycled again & again. 

  • If you have a recycled package that your local recycling system accepts – like a bottle or container – absolutely, put it in your recycling bin so it can be remade again and again.
  • If you have furniture, clothing, toys, or anything that wouldn’t typically go in your regular recycling bin, try to sell or donate it so someone else can enjoy it.
  • If the item is damaged or can’t be given away, you can probably recycle it through other programs. Call the company you bought it from to see if they will take it back for recycling or look for specialty recycling programs for that item near you.

Buying recycled is a win-win-win for people, the economy, and our planet. When you buy recycled, you are supporting community recycling programs, creating green jobs, and conserving our planet’s limited natural resources!