Posts with term zero waste box X

11 best sustainable bathroom products to replace plastic in 2021

Many people tend to overlook their plastic footprint in the bathroom — here are some plastic-free and zero waste alternatives for an eco-friendly space.
In 2018, 7.9 billion units of rigid plastic were made for packaging personal care and beauty products used primarily in the bathroom.knape / Getty Images ; by Humankind
April 23, 2021, 1:52 PM EDT
By Mili Godio, Shop TODAY
Whether it involves personal care, grooming, beauty or just general privacy, the bathroom is a space that’s varied in its use, but we tend to overlook the amount of single-use plastic and paper products we use in that space compared to other spaces in our homes. A 2014 report from Johnson & Johnson’s Care to Recycle initiative found that 95 percent of people self-report recycling in their kitchen, but only half report recycling in their bathroom. The most common reason? Lack of recycling bins — not interest. Daniel Esty, JD, a professor of environmental law and policy at Yale and an expert in corporate sustainability, previously told us that shoppers are increasingly aware of where their purchases come from and their environmental impact, and many companies aim to follow suit with environmental standards nods from nonprofits like Climate Neutral and B Lab. Our everyday plastic use has skyrocketed over time, with the packaging of cosmetics and food in the U.S. accounting for 82.2 million tons, or 28 percent of total waste generation in 2018, more than 120 times what was being produced in 1960, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Nearly 70 percent of that plastic waste is sitting in landfills. Finding the right alternatives to plastic and non-reusable products popularly used in the bathroom, such as deodorant, toothbrushes and makeup wipes, can help reduce the waste produced and thrown into landfills.
The most environmentally-conscious decision is always to reduce your overall consumption and buy less when possible. ALEX PAYNE, PUBLICIST, TERRACYCLE

How to reduce plastic use in your bathroom

When you “absolutely need” to buy new beauty products, strive for “reusable and refillable options,” said Alex Payne, a publicist at recycling and waste management company TerraCycle. “Look out for package-free options or, when all else fails, simple packaging that is easier to recycle like metal or glass rather than combinations of materials,” he suggested. Packaging made from organic and biodegradable materials are eco-friendly alternatives, like sustainable-sourced bamboo (not grown in areas that were deforested for the purpose of growing bamboo) since it grows quickly. Even if your plastic shampoo container or glass lotion bottle is technically recyclable in your community, the packaging could still make its way to the landfill if it contains residue or non-recyclable materials. Payne suggested rinsing out the packaging before putting it in your bin. “The presence of any residual product may force municipal recyclers to redirect it to the landfill, so it won’t contaminate the otherwise recyclable material in the process,” he said. “Also, be sure to check with your local recycling center what they can and cannot recycle before tossing your packaging into the recycling bucket.” Online resources like Recycle Coach or Call2Recycle can let you know what recyclables are accepted in your area.

Best sustainable bathroom products in 2021

Whether you’re upgrading in moderation or completely revamping your bathroom into an eco-friendly space, we’ve compiled some highly rated and sustainable bathroom products to consider.
Made from 100 percent bamboo, Cloud Paper’s 3-ply toilet paper is an eco-friendly alternative to tree-based toilet paper. According to a report from the Natural Resources Defense Council, a nonprofit environmental advocacy group, “Tissue products made from bamboo release 30 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than tissue made from virgin wood.” Cloud Paper products, including Cloud Bamboo Paper Towels, are 100 percent plastic free (typical in packaging) and source paper from manufacturers certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, according to the brand. You can get Cloud Paper products via a one-time purchase or subscribe to receive refills every two, three or four months.
Capture 98.PNG

TUSHY Classic Bidet Toilet Seat Attachment

If you’re hoping to cut down on your use of toilet paper altogether, a bidet toilet seat attachment is a sustainable (and more affordable) option. This bidet by TUSHY takes approximately 10 minutes to install and includes a nozzle adjuster and pressure control knob to adjust the angle and water pressure for convenience. The brand claims the bidet cuts your toilet paper usage by 80 percent and leaves you feeling cleaner.

Capture 99.PNG


Sanitary pads and tampons tend to incorporate a lot of plastic, both in their packaging and the material used to make them. DivaCup’s menstrual cups are made from medical grade silicone with no chemicals, dyes or plastic, and they’re totally reusable — the brand says the DivaCup can be used for up to a year with routine cleaning, and worn for up to 12 hours depending on your menstrual flow. Menstrual cups like the DivaCup are not only a less wasteful alternative to pads and tampons, but they’re also more affordable. A 2019 study published in peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet found that, over time, menstrual cups cost “a small fraction” of the price of regular tampons and sanitary pads, and they produce much less plastic waste compared to other period products.   Capture 100.PNG 

Schick Xtreme 3 Eco-Glide Disposable Razor

This men’s razor by Schick is a fully recyclable disposable razor that comes in recyclable packaging. According to the brand, it’s the first disposable razor on the market made with 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic. It features an ergonomic grip without rubber and Aloe lubricant for sensitive skin. Schick also launched a recycling program that lets people mail in their eligible Schick razors for free so that the brand can properly recycle them.   Capture 101.PNG

EcoRoots Shampoo Bars

If you’re hoping to eliminate your use of plastic shampoo bottles, these package-free shampoo bars from EcoRoots are offered in seven scents (one unscented option) and last for more than 50 washes each, according to the brand. They're vegan, color-safe, travel friendly and 100 percent plastic-free and package-free. EcoRoots also offers conditioner bars that’ll make your hair care routine more eco-friendly.   Capture 102.PNG

Isshah Bamboo Charcoal Toothbrushes

While the nylon bristles of this toothbrush aren’t biodegradable (and need to be thrown away separately), the handles on these bamboo toothbrushes will decompose in your home or in an industrial setting, which makes them a great alternative to plastic toothbrushes you throw out every few months. They come in a pack of four and the packaging is 100 percent biodegradable.   Capture 103.PNG 

Jenny Patinkin Pure Luxury Organic Bamboo Reusable Cosmetic Rounds

“Completely redesigning one’s beauty routine may seem daunting so individuals are encouraged to start with simply swapping out disposable makeup wipes and sponges with durable, multi-use alternatives that can be washed and used again,” suggested TerraCycle’s Alex Payne. These reusable rounds by makeup artist Jenny Patinkin are made from organic bamboo and are fragrance-free, hypoallergenic, antibacterial and antimicrobial. Reusable cosmetic rounds and wipes are also a great alternative for single-use makeup wipes which, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, typically contain non-biodegradable materials that take a long time to break down in a landfill. You can also opt for reusable and gently exfoliating muslin cloths.   Capture 104.PNG

Myro Refillable Deodorant

Myro offers seven different colored cases that you can refill with your choice of deodorant from nine scented, recyclable deodorant pods. The case is refillable — you can buy another pod and simply snap it in place. The case is dishwasher safe, so you can keep it continuously clean as you reuse it or fill it with a new scent. You can also pick a subscription plan, which costs $10 for your first month’s starter kit, $40 for your first refill box with four deodorant pods of each scent and $30 for all refills after that (which you can get every three, four or six months).   Capture 105.PNG 

Dental Lace Refillable Dental Floss

If you’re looking for an alternative to plastic-packaged dental floss, this refillable 33-yard spool of dental floss is made from mulberry silk that is entirely biodegradable and coated with plant-based candelilla wax. The refill spool comes in a polylactide acid bag created from the lactic acid in plants. According to the brand, the floss composts in three to six months at a commercial facility and six to 10 months in homestyle bins.   Capture 106.PNG

By Humankind Bamboo Cotton Swabs

The Ocean Conservancy, a nonprofit advocacy group, reports that 8 million metric tons of plastic went into the ocean in 2020, and single-use plastic-stemmed cotton swabs are part of the problem. Although popular cotton swab brand Q-tips has officially transitioned to biodegradable paper sticks in recent years (its packaging, however, is only partially recyclable), bamboo cotton swabs like these from By Humankind are 100 percent biodegradable and come in a fully recyclable packaging. When you finish the pack, you can recycle the paper tube and compost the cotton swabs at home or in an industrial composting facility.   Capture 107.PNG

TerraCycle Zero Waste Bathroom Separation Box

TerraCycle developed the Zero Waste Box program as an at-home or in-store recycling solution for difficult-to-recycle products. A business or shopper selects a Zero Waste Box from the online shop, fills the box with the appropriate waste stream and then ships the box back to TerraCycle with a prepaid shipping label. While there are 10 different box options depending on the items collected (safety equipment, kitchen items and coffee capsules, for instance), the Bathroom Separation Box allows you to separate bath and shower accessories, cleaning accessories, health care packaging, storage containers, personal care accessories and other packaging for recycling. The collected plastic is cleaned, melted and formed into plastic pellets that can then be recycled into new plastic products such as park benches and picnic tables. Collected metals are smelted and remolded to make other metal-based products. “TerraCycle developed the Zero Waste Box program as a solution to bridge the gap between what is not accepted through local municipal recycling,” said TerraCycle’s Alex Payne. “This gives users the freedom to recycle all brands of a specific waste stream.”   Capture 108.PNG

Should you reduce plastic use in your bathroom?

The beauty and personal care industry is a major culprit of our heavy plastic footprint — 7.9 billion units of rigid plastic were made for packaging personal care and beauty products like hand soap, face wash, razors and shampoo in 2018, according to the most recent data from Euromonitor International, a market research company based in London, England. And a study by Zero Waste Europe found that 120 billion units of plastic packaging are produced by the beauty industry globally each year. With the market size of the industry expected to jump from $81.1 billion in 2019 to $128.7 billion by 2030, transitioning to more eco-friendly and zero waste bathroom products can be a worthwhile investment with an eye toward the 51st anniversary of Earth Day. “The old saying we learned as school children, ‘reduce, reuse and recycle,’ is just as relevant as it was back then,” said Payne. “The most environmentally-conscious decision is always to reduce your overall consumption and buy less when possible.”

How to reduce face mask pollution, according to experts

Experts recommend how to properly dispose of single-use face masks, and explain why they’re having harmful effects on the environment
Throughout the past year, face masks have become one of the most prominent symbols of the coronavirus pandemic, both on our faces and, according to experts, in pollution scattered across the planet’s beaches, streets and bodies of water. OceansAsia, a nonprofit marine conservation advocacy organization, recently conducted research about how many single-use face masks are likely to have entered the world’s oceans in 2020. Overall, the organization estimates that more than 1.5 billion face masks entered oceans in 2020, resulting in an additional 4,680 to 6,240 metric tons (about 5,160 to 6,880 U.S. tons) of marine plastic pollution. SKIP AHEAD Face mask pollution and the environment When single-use masks are not disposed of properly, they pose an environmental risk, said Teale Phelps Bondaroff, director of research for OceansAsia. Single-use face masks — both the disposable kind the general public wears and medical-grade surgical masks — are often made with polypropylene plastic. When that plastic breaks up into smaller pieces, it can take as long as 450 years to decompose, Phelps Bondaroff said. And while reusable cloth face masks are a more eco-friendly option, disposable masks are both an acceptable face covering, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and CDC-recommended for double masking. It’s crucial to learn how to properly discard face masks in order to ensure they don’t end up in oceans, lakes and rivers, said Erin Simon, head of plastic waste and business at the World Wildlife Fund. The goal is not to change the disposable mask space as it is a key part of medical safety protocols, Simon highlighted, noting environmental experts more specifically advocate for the proper management of disposable face masks after they’re used. “The challenge is that now the general public is using them and not disposing of them correctly,” Simon said. “In this case, the appropriate choice is the trash or landfill.” We talked to experts about how face mask pollution is harming the environment in the wake of the pandemic, and what we can do to help. We also rounded up a list of eco-friendly reusable face masks from brands like Rothy’s and TenTree.

Eco-friendly face masks

  Experts said reusable cloth face masks are a more sustainable option than single-use disposable masks, and some companies further incorporate recycled fabric into their masks, as well as organic materials. The face masks below meet the CDC’s guidance in regards to reusable face coverings and are made with the environment in mind, according to the brands behind them.

Best eco-friendly reusable face masks

TenTree The Protect Mask

  The outer layer of TenTree’s double-layered face mask is constructed from hemp and recycled polyester fabric, while the inside lining is made from organic cotton and hemp. Masks are designed with a pocket filter and come in a pack of three. The color and pattern of the washable masks vary across packs, and they come in two sizes: Small/Medium and Large/Extra Large.   image.png

United By Blue Salvaged Hemp Face Mask

United By Blue makes Large/AdultSmall/Youth and Kids face masks in packs of two, three and ten. The masks have adjustable ear loops and a filter pocket, and United By Blue also sells filters. Masks are made from a fabric blend including hemp, organic cotton, recycled polyester and Tencel, a type of rayon fabric. Masks are sold in a variety of styles, from Chambray and Coral to Cedar Rose.   image.png

Avocado Organic Cotton Face Mask

Avocado face masks are made with two layers of organic cotton and are certified by the Global Organic Textiles Standard (GOTS), a textile processing standard for organic fibres. Masks feature a filter pocket and can be purchased with elastic ear loops or head tie straps. They are sold in packs of four for adults and kids, and come in styles like Sunbeam Yellow, Northern Lights and more.   image.png

Rothy’s The Mask

Rothy’s machine-washable masks are made from the brand’s rPET thread, a material derived from single-use plastic water bottles. Masks feature elastic straps and microfiber swatches on the inside for added comfort against the face.They come in a pack of two and are available in colors like BlackBlue and Pink and more. Rothy’s also sells kids masks and a Mask Pack that includes a mask and a pouch you can store your mask in.

EcoMask Filtering Face Mask

When you’re done using EcoMask’s reusable face mask, you can send it back to the brand and it will recycle the mask for you. EcoMask’s face coverings are constructed from post-consumer recycled materials and boast five-layers of filtration. The mask comes in sizes ranging from Extra Small to Extra Large and are available in five colors: Black, Sage, Rose, Royal Blue and Navy Blue.   image.png

Synergy Organic Clothing Adult Face Mask

Synergy Organic Clothing’s face masks are made from three layers of GOTS certified organic cotton and feature adjustable ear loops. Masks come in packs of two and are sold in kids and adult sizes. Adult masks are available with screen-printed designs like moons and stars, and some are constructed from deadstock — unsold items — so their exact colors and patterns vary.   image.png

Best eco-friendly disposable face masks

VIDA 3-Ply Face Mask

When you purchase VIDA’s disposable face mask, it will arrive with a prepaid label that allows you to send your used masks back to the brand in their original envelope — the brand recycles masks it receives. VIDA’s disposable masks feature an adjustable nose clip and come in a Floral pattern. Masks are sold in packs of 10 to 1,000, and they can be worn under one of the brand’s reusable cotton masks while double masking.

VIDA 3-Ply Face Mask


VIDA KN95 Face Mask

As featured in our guide to KN95 masks, VIDA sells KN95 masks that are approved under the Food and Drug Administration’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for KN95 masks. They come in colors like Black, White and Olive, and after using them, you can send them back to the brand to be recycled.

VIDA KN95 Face Mask


Face mask pollution and the environment

The pandemic triggered an estimated global use of 129 billion face masks and 65 billion gloves every month, according to estimates in a 2020 study published in Environmental Science and Technology, a peer-reviewed scientific journal by the American Chemical Society. Simon said the study also estimated that 30 percent more waste would be produced in 2020 compared to 2019. The study states that this increase is in part due to the “increased the use of PPE by the general public” during the pandemic, and thus getting thrown out as municipal solid waste, or everyday trash or garbage. Unfortunately, not everyone disposes of single-use face masks and gloves property. Simon said she’s seen masks and gloves dropped and forgotten about and, if they’re thrown away in an outdoor garbage can without a lid, they can fall out or be blown away by wind. Mark Benfield, a professor at Louisiana State University's department of oceanography and coastal sciences, studies plastic pollution in Louisiana and is now investigating face mask pollution. He said most waste created on land ultimately makes its way into a body of water — the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates that “80 percent of pollution to the marine environment comes from the land.” Over dozens of years (or more, depending on the material), that waste breaks down and is absorbed into water and soil, for example. As plastic — which partially comprises disposable face masks — degrades, it releases into the water hundreds to millions of micro plastics, pieces of plastic that are less than 5 millimeters in length, according to NOAA. Benfield, who developed a methodological survey with colleagues to collect data about PPE litter around the world, said micro plastics are especially dangerous because they’re small enough to pass through filters and end up in our drinking water, or get absorbed into the bodies of animals that humans eat, like fish. Marine animals can become tangled in disposable face masks or mistake them for food, Benfield added. Both situations

Why disposable face masks can’t be easily recycled

Simon said traditional local recycling programs tend to only sort “like with like,” meaning they group items that are made from the exact same materials — such as one type of plastic, glass or paper — and then recycle those items together. A disposable face mask, however, is made from different materials that cannot be easily separated. Phelps Bondaroff said single-use face masks usually consist of metal for the nose piece, cotton and elastic for the ear loops and melt-blown polypropylene for the main structure that covers the mouth and nose. According to recycling company TerraCycle and experts we’ve consulted, single-use personal protective equipment like masks and gloves often don’t get recycled through local programs in towns and cities because of the associated cost. However, Phelps Bondaroff noted that companies like TerraCycle have begun to devise strategies and specified programs for recycling disposable face masks. TerraCycle offers a PPE recycling program through which you can collect items like disposable face masks and gloves in a box that’s available to purchase through the company (TerraCycle does not accept reusable face masks or PPE from healthcare facilities). When the box is full, you can send it back to TerraCycle, which then sorts materials and sends them to third-party processing partners that recycle them into usable forms. For example, Terracycle states that “The polypropylene-dominant mixture from the face mask is densified into a crumb-like raw material that’s used in plastic lumber and composite decking applications.”

How to mitigate the impacts of face mask pollution

Phelps Bondaroff said the best way to mitigate the impacts of (and help prevent) face mask pollution is disposing of them correctly and ensuring they do not enter the Earth’s ecosystem. He said it’s important to throw away face masks in garbage cans that have a lid and a garbage bag that will be tied together when it’s removed to keep them from falling out or blowing away. Phelps Bondaroff also mentioned he’s seen posts circulating on social media from environmental and activist organizations recommending we cut the straps of face masks’ ear loops before throwing them away. He said this could help prevent animals from getting tangled in the ear loops, and decrease the chances of them getting stuck on trees and plants. But WWF's Simon noted it’s more important to spend time finding a covered, lined garbage can. “I would argue that in that moment that you're taking to cut the ear loops of your face mask, just put it in the trash,” Simon said.


Last updated on: April 20, 2021 | by Bearfoot Theory
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of over 1000 independent scientific experts, there is a 95% probability that human activities over the past 60 years have warmed our planet significantly, both on land and in the oceans. We have seen this impact firsthand with record-breaking wildfire seasons in the West, surges of strong hurricanes in the South, and the freak Derecho storms across the Plains. The United States, which represents only 5% of the world’s population, is responsible for 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than any other country. Single-use plastics are also piling up in our oceans, and by 2050, plastic could outnumber fish in the sea. We don’t want to sound all doom and gloom, but this is the reality we face, and it’s the reason why shifting toward more sustainable living is so important. With all of this mounting climate evidence, it can feel totally overwhelming and impossible to know what we as individuals can do to reverse or slow this trajectory. While we as individual consumers are not to blame for the environmental crisis, it is still important to recognize that we can help change the course for future generations. Small actions taken by many can have large impacts. Sustainable living is key for signaling what kind of world we want to live in. If we, as consumers, put pressure on corporations and governments and demand change for unsustainable practices, they are more likely to switch to a more sustainable business model. One of the easiest ways is to make eco-friendly swaps in our everyday lives, however big or small, to prioritize sustainable living and do our part to positively impact the planet.

Want to learn about sustainable living? Read our eco-friendly tips below to reduce your impact!


Sustainable living is a lifestyle that aims to reduce an individual’s carbon footprint on the planet by utilizing less natural resources and less fossil fuels. Our carbon footprint is calculated by the amount of greenhouse gases we produce from lifestyle choices such as what kind of food we eat, what kind of transportation we use, and what we buy. You can calculate your estimated carbon footprint here. By consciously consuming goods, or focusing on what we’re buying and using and how it will affect our planet, we aim to reduce the amount of trash that ends up in our landfills or polluting waterways. As more people (and hopefully, corporations and governments) focus on sustainable living, less fossil fuels will be produced, leading to a smaller overall environmental impact and reduction of greenhouse gases.


There is an infinite number of ways to live more sustainably, however, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. We recommend starting small and deciding on what area(s) you would like to focus on first and building from there. Sustainable living doesn’t mean doing everything perfectly all the time – making a conscious effort goes a long way! Here are some of our top eco-friendly tips to live more sustainably every day.

1. Ditch Single-Use Plastics

Single-use plastic has taken over our landfills, our oceans, and our lives as we prioritize convenience and ease over the health of our planet. We’ve all seen the photos of sea turtles with straws stuck up their noses or whales that have died due to eating plastic bags floating in the ocean. As it currently stands, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050, less than 30 years from now. Plastic is so durable that the EPA reports that every piece of plastic that has ever been made in history still exists today. Mindblowing, right? Especially when you think about the lifespan of your plastic fork from take-out or the straw in your cocktail. The simple act of refusing a plastic straw at a restaurant or plastic bag at the store is a small act of resistance that has a big impact. It’s nearly impossible to always avoid single-use plastic – from produce stickers to plastic bags, to plastic shipping packaging… it’s ingrained in our everyday lives. A good experiment to gauge just how much plastic comes into your life is to collect all of the plastic, single-use items you use in a week – even if you consider yourself eco-friendly, we bet you’ll be surprised at how much adds up over a short period of time. Once the week is over, you can spot patterns or areas where you might be able to reduce your consumption.
Stasher Bag // Learn the basics of sustainable living with tips on how to reduce your environmental impact by making eco friendly swaps in everyday life.
Loop is a brand looking to eliminate single-use plastics and switch common household items (like shampoo, toothpaste, ice cream, laundry detergent, etc.) from a throwaway model to a circular model – you can buy brands like Clorox, Seventh Generation, and Meow Meow Tweet in reusable metal containers, and ship the container back when you’re done! Zero waste achieved. There are tons of simple, eco-friendly product swaps you can make that will reduce the amount of plastic you consume – we’ve listed our favorites below:

2. Grocery Shop Mindfully

The grocery store can be an intimidating place, especially if you are looking to avoid single use plastics. Here are some ways to sustainably shop for food:
  • Shop at Local Co-ops or Farmer’s Markets – joining a local co-op has so many benefits, including access to mostly organic food, local and sustainable sourcing, transparent labeling, and knowledgeable staff. Farmer’s markets are great places to get organic, local, in-season produce as well and can help you shop low waste since most produce isn’t packaged (bring your own bags!)
  • Buy In-Season Produce –  the US imports produce from around the world when our farms are out of season for those items. Shipping has a large environmental impact, so learning the cadence of in-season produce will help you reduce the number of imported foods you buy.
  • Buy “Imperfect” Produce – Companies like Imperfect Foods and Misfits Market sell imperfect or “ugly” produce that can’t be sold at regular grocery stores. Nothing is wrong with these foods – they would normally be tossed because of cosmetic blemishes or food surplus.
  • Shop the Bulk Section – not only will you save money by buying in bulk, but you’ll reduce the amount of plastic in your transactions. Many shelf-stable everyday food items like oats, granola, nuts, rice, beans, chia seeds, etc. can be found in bulk bins. Some bulk sections will even carry toiletry refills such as shampoo, soap, and dish detergent! Once you have your reusable bulk containers (mason jars work perfectly!), shopping in bulk is incredibly easy.
Farmers Market // shopping local is a great eco friendly way to reduce your environmental impact for more sustainable living

3. Compost Your Food Waste

Did you know that food waste takes up more space in our landfills than any other product category? 23% of landfill space comes from food waste, and this waste rots unproductively. An easy way to make a positive impact on the planet is to start composting. There are so many benefits of composting – it prevents soil erosion, promotes healthier plant growth, cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions, and diverts waste from filling up landfills. Some cities, such as San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland, have city-wide composting programs, but there are many ways to compost at home. Kristen uses the Aerobin 400 Insulated Composter to compost both food and yard waste at home. This bin is large, keeps rodents out, and doesn’t require any stirring – great for people who travel a lot, or who prefer a low maintenance compost bin. If you lack space or feel intimidated by starting your own compost bin, check at your local farmers markets to see if any local farms or community gardens take food waste and collect in a small odor-free compost bin. BFT team member Courtney uses a free service called ShareWaste for composting – you can find hosts in your area to drop off your food scraps (some hosts accept other waste as well, such as paper or yard waste – always check with the host!)
Composting is a great eco friendly tip / Learn the basics of sustainable living with tips on how to reduce your environmental impact by making eco friendly swaps in everyday life.

4. Join A CSA Or Grow Your Own Food

Buying local produce (when possible) is not only ideal for its small environmental footprint, but it is also a great way to support your local community. CSAs (community supported agriculture) have been around for more than 25 years, connecting consumers with local farmers. Interested buyers purchase a “subscription” and in return, receive a box of fresh produce weekly for the duration of the farming season. You can learn more about CSAs and find one in your area here. Kristen and her partner Ryan spent time last year creating an organic garden in their backyard, after buying raised garden beds secondhand from Facebook marketplace. You can also buy farmstead raised garden beds from EarthEasy. Through a lot of trial and error (and lots of Google searches!), they were able to grow tons of fresh, organic greens and tomatoes. Growing your own food is a great way to connect more deeply with food and is a ton of fun to watch each stage of growth. If you don’t have any outdoor space, Gardyn is an indoor vertical hydroponic growing system that has dozens of organic greens, veggies, and herbs you can grow inside your house. Kristen has been experimenting with this in her house this winter and has been amazed at how easy it’s been and the results. It also requires very little water. Included in the price is a smart-app that will guide you step-by-step how to care for your new plants, along with a monthly shipment of 10 new pods.
Gardyn // Growing food at home is an eco friendly way to reduce your environmental impact. Get more sustainable living tips here.

5. Consider Going Plant Based (Even If Only 1 Day A Week!)

One of the most significant ways to reduce your environmental impact is by switching to a plant based diet. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, emissions of greenhouse gases from the livestock supply chain make up 14.5% of total human emissions –  that’s more than total global emissions from cars, trains, planes, and boats combined! Kristen made the switch to a vegan diet in 2019 and has outlined the positive environmental impacts of a plant based diet here.  If you do choose to eat meat, treat it as an indulgence and avoid inexpensive meat produced on factory farms that pollute waterways and even drive deforestation in the Amazon. Buy local, and buy from a farm that treats their animals well and doesn’t pump them full of hormones or antibiotics.
Cooking Plant Based // A vegan diet is one of the most sustainable living swaps you can make. Get more eco friendly tips here.

6. Take Care Of Your Clothers & Gear

The fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world, right after the oil industry. This negative impact starts well before we ever step into a store to buy something – it begins with the large amount of water needed to produce fabrics like cotton, the wastewater runoff produced by the chemicals used to treat fabrics, the oil needed to ship goods around the world to be sold, and the plastic microfibers that are released into the water every time we wash a synthetic garment (polyester is the most well known synthetic – a lot of outdoor gear is made with this fabric, which is a form of plastic). Here are our top tips for mindfully shopping:
  • Buy Only What You Need – the most sustainable clothing items are the ones already in your closet! No need to throw away your perfectly wearable clothes in order to buy something new.
  • Repair Your Clothing and Gear – did you rip a hole in your favorite leggings while on a hike? Instead of throwing them away, take them to a local seamstress or alterations shop to get them mended or patched up! Learn how to take proper care of your outdoor gear. If your outdoor gear is showing signs of wear, check the brand’s website to see if they offer any repair services.
  • Shop Secondhand When Possible – secondhand stores, Facebook marketplace, Buy Nothing Facebook groups, and clothing swaps with friends are a great place to start! Click here for a roundup of used outdoor gear sites.
Repairing clothes instead of buying new is a great sustainable living tip. Get more eco friendly tips here.

7. Reduce Your Water Consumption

No, we’re not advocating for drinking less water – we’re talking about the water we use every day for washing our dishes, showering, etc. Here are a few ways to reduce your water usage:
  • Install a low-flow shower/toilet – did you know toilets account for 30% of all indoor water use – more than anything else? By installing a water-efficient toilet, you’ll save 20% more water, and save money on your water bill! This also works for low-flow showerheads and faucets, which also reduce your energy bill by cutting down on the amount of energy needed to heat your water.
  • Don’t fill your sink for doing dishes – instead, fill up a bowl on the counter with hot, soapy water and dip your sponge or brush in. Then, scrub over the sink & lightly rinse.
  • Turn off the water when you brush your teeth –  sounds simple, and it is!
  • Shower less – The average 8 minute shower consumes 17 gallons of water. If van life has taught us anything, it’s that giving up a daily shower isn’t as bad as it seems. If you switch from showering every day to every other day, you could save ~60 gallons of water a week. If skipping showers isn’t an option for you, you can also save water by turning the water off while you suds up or by taking shorter quicker showers.
slide 1 to 2 of 2

8. Recycle Responsibly

Although 75% of waste in the US is recyclable, only 30% of it actually gets recycled properly. “Wishcycling”, or throwing items in the recycling bin without knowing if they can be recycled is another common problem, as any landfill items thrown in with proper recycling can contaminate the bag and cause the entire batch to go to landfill. Common “wishcycling” practices include trying to recycle “disposable” coffee cups, plastic food containers with food residue, ink cartridges, or greasy pizza boxes. Here are items that can commonly be recycled:
  • Paper: mail, magazines, newspaper, cardboard boxes (remove any packing tape), cereal boxes, paper towel rolls, shoeboxes
  • Plastic: water bottles, soda bottles, milk jugs, shampoo bottles *Note: anything you recycle needs to be CLEAN and DRY. No food or product residue!
  • Glass: food and beverage containers
  • Aluminum: cans
While some recycling centers can handle multiple types of items, very few can handle all product types. Every city and recycling center has its own rules about what they can take, so it is extremely important to call your local recycling center to check their website to see exactly what items they accept. Companies such as Terracycle make recycling at home (or the office) even easier by offering zero waste boxes, coffee capsule boxes, etc. to collect your hard-to-recycle items and mail back to them.
Recycling // Learn the basics of sustainable living with tips on how to reduce your environmental impact by making eco friendly swaps in everyday life.

9. Make Eco Friendly Swaps At Home

Focusing on being eco-conscious in our kitchen, our laundry room, and our bathroom are big areas where sustainable practices go a long way. Switching to eco-friendly household cleaning products is better for the environment (not to mention your health) by eliminating all the nasty chemicals found in many of the common products out there. You can make your own cleaning products by combining white vinegar and citrus peels (like orange, lemon, grapefruit) – it can be used for everything from washing floors to fabric softener. If DIY isn’t your thing, you can purchase natural citrus cleaner here. Instead of cleaning up kitchen messes with paper towels, buy bulk cotton or linen hand towels that can be washed and reused. Rather than a typical sponge made with polyurethane (a petroleum-derived form of plastic) get a reusable, washable sponge that can easily be thrown in the laundry or the dishwasher for a refresh. In the bathroom there are many easy ways to move from throwaway items to reusable toiletries. Here are some of our favorite eco friendly bathroom items:
Laundry has a large carbon footprint due to the amount of water used, toxic chemicals found in laundry detergent, microplastics shed from synthetic clothes in the wash, and energy consumed by dryers. Here are a few of our sustainability tips for laundry:
  • Wear Clothes More Than Once – not only will this help extend the lifespan of your garments, washing clothes after one wear is generally not necessary (this excludes some categories, such as underwear)
  • Use Environmentally Friendly Laundry Detergent – chemicals are not good so close to your skin, so switching to natural laundry detergent is a win-win for your body and the environment.
  • Wash With Cold Water – 90% of the energy needed in the wash cycles comes from heating your water. Switch to only washing with cold water!
  • Air Dry Your Clothes – dryers have the largest environmental impact in the full laundry cycle. If you do need to use a dryer, use wool dryer balls (or tennis balls) in your dryer to speed up drying time.
  • Use a Guppy Bag in Your Washer – Filter harmful microplastics that are shed when washing synthetic garments and catch in a guppy bag to dispose of in the trash versus being released into waterways.
slide 6 to 8 of 6

10. Support Sustainable Businesses

Your dollar is as powerful as your vote – each time we make a purchase, we are signaling what we want to see more of in this world. When you do need to buy something new (and let’s face it – we can’t shop secondhand for everything), support companies that are striving for more sustainable materials and practices, are transparent about their business practices, or who support organizations that align with your values. Get familiar with the brands you love and their sustainability practices – look for true transparency and not just greenwashing tactics. Here are a few certifications to look for: Your money is powerful – spend it on companies that are doing good in the world.


It can feel overwhelming to know how to best support our planet and make sustainable living choices. In addition to individual action, it is imperative that we support environmental organizations that work tirelessly to elevate environmental issues at local, national, and global levels. We can also do our best to become informed citizens and learn how to vote with the environment in mind. Finally, we can urge our employers to join 1% for the Planet (or join as an individual!). Together as outdoor advocates, we can make lifestyle changes and support environmental organizations leading to big change for our planet!
Learn the basics of sustainable living with tips on how to reduce your environmental impact by making eco friendly swaps in everyday life.

What steps do you plan to take to live more sustainably or what’s your favorite sustainable living tip?

3 Ways Cannabis Stakeholders Reduce Packaging Waste

This April, recycling and upcycling are key trends in cannabis-packaging sustainability. In-dispensary recycling programs are emerging and evolving, and one packaging supplier has launched cannabis packaging made from reclaimed ocean waste.
Here are their stories … 1. Dispensary uses packaging to fuel cannabis manufacturer’s deliveries. 2. TerraCycle takes on Canada. 3. Upcycled ocean plastic for cannabis brands.
1. Dispensary uses packaging to fuel cannabis manufacturer’s deliveries.
Capture 92.PNG San Jose, CA-based Airfield Supply, which bills itself as the largest single-site cannabis dispensary in California, is using the annual 420 (April 20) cannabis-celebration day to promote an innovative cannabis-packaging recycling program that began in November 2020. Airfield is asking its customers to bring their clean cannabis-packaging plastic waste to the dispensary for recycling and in return receive a coupon which, together with 10 cents, is redeemable for a “420 special product.” A minimum $25 purchase is also required. Products offered in the promotion include infused beverages, gummies, vape cartridges, pre-rolls, and more. “This is the core campaign we are focusing on this 420 season, so we are using all of our communication channels to drive awareness and engagement across email, social, in-store media, and through budtenders,” says Chris Lane, chief marketing officer at Airfield Supply. “Every customer will be engaged on the topic, which we hope is more than 15,000 people in a matter of days who can take action on their next visit.” The hope is that this “action” could become a recycling habit. Lane adds, “We’re using the 420 cannabis ‘holiday’ to motivate and engage with our customers by offering them 10-cent products in exchange for their trash. Our hope is that this starts a pattern that will continue.” Airfield is the first dispensary to partner with cannabis manufacturer CannaCraft and plastics upcycler Resynergi on the pilot program, in which plastic from used cannabis packaging is converted into diesel fuel. When Airfield customers leave the dispensary with their purchases, they receive a low-density polyethylene (LDPE) pouch for storage of used cannabis packaging. When they return to the dispensary, they drop the recyclable pouch into a black-and-white Resynergi recycling bin. CannaCraft picks up the recycled materials each week when dropping off new cannabis products for the dispensary. Resynergi uses an energy-efficient, low-emissions pyrolysis process to convert the plastic packaging into diesel fuel, which is then used by CannaCraft to power its delivery vehicles. Resynergi can convert one ton of waste into about 200 gallons of diesel fuel. “We take high-density polyethylene, low-density polyethylene, and polypropylene — types 2, 4, and 5,” says Brian Bauer, CEO of Resynergi. “We plan to take low-density PE in the form of films like bags, which is new to the industry.” Airfield has recycled hundreds of pounds of packaging waste so far. Waste from all cannabis brands is accepted, and plastic waste from CannaCraft’s manufacturing operation is also used in Resynergi’s pyrolysis operation. For dispensaries, creating opportunities for package recycling and upcycling “couldn’t be more important,” Lane says. “Given that we’re centered on a plant, it only seems natural and correct that our approach be gentle to the Earth and thoughtful about the environment. As a successful dispensary in a large state with very few dispensaries, we’re in a unique position to help shape the industry. We can stop cannabis packaging plastics from flooding our landfills — and we should. It’s that simple.” 2. TerraCycle takes on Canada. Capture 93.PNG
North of the US border, TerraCycle has partnered with Canopy Growth and that company’s Tweed and Tokyo Smoke brands to recycle all brands of cannabis packaging and all Canopy Growth-produced vape products throughout Canada. Hundreds of Canadian dispensaries are participating in TerraCycle’s Cannabis Recycling Program and Cannabis Vapes Retailer Recycling Program, which launched in October 2018 and December 2019, respectively. The dispensaries use in-store recycling bins to collect the waste. One bin is for vape products only, including cartridges and batteries. The other bin is for all other types of cannabis packaging — primary and secondary plastic packaging, tins, joint tubes, plastic bottles and caps, and plastic bags. “To date, 6.3 million pieces of cannabis packaging and vaporizers have been collected for recycling through the Cannabis Recycling Program,” says Alex Payne, a publicist for TerraCycle. The programs play a special role in Canada’s recycling infrastructure because much of the child-proof packaging required for cannabis products is not recyclable across the country. TerraCycle sorts the materials, shredding and cleaning plastic for upcycling into products such as park benches and picnic tables. Recycled metals are melted, poured into ingot molds, and used to make metal-based products. Since last summer, TerraCycle has also been selling Zero Waste Boxes for cannabis-packaging waste to consumers in Canada. Consumers can order a Cannabis Packaging Zero Waste Box or Cannabis Vapes Zero Waste Box online, fill the box with the designated waste, and then ship the box back to TerraCycle using a pre-paid shipping label. The returned materials are sorted and repurposed into affordable recycled products.
3. Upcycled ocean plastic for cannabis brands.
 Capture 94.PNG
Sana Packaging, which develops sustainable cannabis packaging using materials like 100% plant-based hemp plastic, has recently tackled the problem of ocean plastic. Since December 2020, the company has launched jars, lids, and tubes made from 100% reclaimed ocean plastic. The 4-oz Sana Ocean Jar 4 and Sana Ocean Screw-Top Lid are made of high-density polyethylene (HDPE); this package can be used for cannabis flower, edibles, and topicals. Sana Ocean Tubes, used to pack pre-rolls, blunts, and vape pens, are made of polypropylene (PP). The tubes and jars are child-resistant certified and resealable. “We source our reclaimed ocean plastic in partnership with Oceanworks, a global marketplace for reclaimed ocean materials,” says James Eichner, co-founder and chief scientific officer of Sana Packaging. “One of the big value-adds that Oceanworks provides is the verification that we’re sourcing pure materials. Our 100% reclaimed ocean plastic is Oceanworks Guaranteed, FDA certified, and — depending on the product — a pure HDPE (#2 recyclable) or a pure PP (#5 recyclable).” Though still more expensive than conventional alternatives, Sana’s ocean plastic offerings are coming down in price. “Our first reclaimed ocean plastic products were [two to three times] more expensive than their traditional counterparts,” Eichner says. “However, we’ve been able to reduce our pricing significantly though a combination of scaling up our operations and designing more efficient products. Our newer reclaimed ocean plastic products are around 15% to 25% more expensive than their traditional counterparts.”

Nordstrom and Beautycycle Expand Recycling Program to Canada

In partnership with BeautycycleNordstrom has launched a beauty take back and recycling program in Canada, accepting all brands of beauty packaging. Each year, more than 120 billion units of plastic packaging are produced by the beauty industry, but less than nine percent gets recycled. That's because many municipal recycling centers do not accept beauty materials and packaging, as they often contain a mix of materials that are not locally recyclable. Nordstrom and Beautycycle hope to change that and aim to take back 100 tons of hard-to-recycle beauty packaging by 2025 to ensure it gets recycled. "We understand our customers care about sustainability, and we want to help them move toward a zero-waste beauty routine so they can look great and do good at the same time," said Gemma Lionello, executive vice president, general merchandise manager, accessories and beauty, at Nordstrom. "We're proud to expand access to a recycling program that will help our Canadian customers easily and conveniently recycle their beauty packaging." 
How it Works Starting April 6, customers can bring empty beauty products to any Nordstrom Canada store to be recycled. Beautycycle boxes will be available in the beauty department. Empty cosmetics, haircare or skincare packaging regardless of brand or purchase location can be dropped off at Nordstrom’s locations. This includes:
  • Shampoo and conditioner bottles and caps
  • Hair gel tubes and caps
  • Hair spray bottles and triggers
  • Hair paste plastic jars and caps
  • Lip balm tubes
  • Face soap dispensers and tubes
  • Lotion bottles, tubes, dispensers, and jars
  • Shaving foam tubes (no cans)
  • Lip gloss tubes
  • Mascara tubes
  • Eye liner pencils and cases
  • Eye shadow and tubes
  • Concealer tubes and sticks
  • And more
Nordstrom will send the contents of the Beautycycle Boxes to Terracycle, where they will be cleaned and separated into metals, glass and plastics. Those materials are then recycled based on the material composition. For example, plastics are recycled into a wide range of new products including park benches and picnic tables, while metals are reused as base materials for stamped product applications like nuts, bolts, washers and rings.

The Best Places for Donating, Selling and Recycling All Your Old Clothes

As Spy readers, you’re all connoisseurs of the latest in men’s fashion from head to toe. Whether it’s the best Off-White sneakers for rocking this spring or the must-have YouTuber merch, you’re the first ones to order it. Constantly being at the forefront of trends can lead to very full closets, and sometimes it becomes necessary to do a little purging. That bomber jacket you haven’t touched in two years? It could be bringing someone else joy as we speak. That bold, risky rugby shirt you impulse-bought that’s have been collecting dust ever since? It’s probably worth donating too. Rather than let this stuff clog up your closet, free up space for new gear by donating your clothes and letting someone else take them off your hands.   Sadly, the textile industry is the globe’s second biggest polluter behind the oil industry, and giving clothes a second, third or even fourth life through donation can cut down on the environmental impact. 20% of industrial water pollution across the globe comes from the treatment and dying of fabrics, and 1.5 trillion liters of water is used by the fashion industry every year. Yikes. You can do your part by giving clothes away to charities, selling them online via consignment or mailing super old fabric into textile recycling centers that dispose of even the rattiest of clothes the responsible way. Your clothes treat you well, treat them well in return by giving them away to one of the best places to donate clothes in 2021.   I’ve split up your donation options into three main categories, the first one is online/mail-in services where you can stuff an envelope or box full of clothes you don’t want, mail them in and they’ll either be resold or donated depending on their condition. The second major category is charities or drop-off centers where you can physically bring bags of unwanted clothes of all kinds in good condition. The only drawback with this method is you must live near a donation center in order to take advantage of their services. Pro tip: stores like NikeThe North Face and Patagonia will accept clothing either from them or other brands for resale or recycling. Lastly, there’s recycling, which takes care of even the rattiest underwear that you DEFINITELY should not donate, but also shouldn’t simply toss in the trash.

1. Swap.com

This is an online reseller that takes boxes of donated clothes, assesses them for quality and then sells them for you at competitive commission rates. They’ve got high standards for the quality of clothing they’ll accept, and charge a hefty fee if your box is overweight or your entire box is rejected, but if you’ve got clothes in excellent condition and want to see them go to good homes — it’s a solid option. If your first box is accepted and you make some $$ off of it, you’ll be invited to be a Premier Seller with them and can send in clothes anytime you want. Tips for giving your clothes the best chance at acceptance? Avoid pilling, fading, clothes that have stretched or shrunk in the dryer. You’ll also want to make sure your clothes aren’t damaged or altered in a significant way, aren’t missing buttons or zippers and don’t have stains or holes. If you’d give it away to a good friend of yours, it’s probably up to snuff to sell on Swap.com.

2. thredUp

ThredUp is another well-known online marketplace for buying and selling your unwanted clothing. They send out convenient “Clean Out Kits” that you can fill up and send back via a prepaid shipping label. They sell anything they can and give you a commission, and donate the rest. They’ve got a 12-point inspection process for ensuring the clothing they sell meets their high standards and then they photograph, list and ship to thrifters so you avoid the heavy lifting! Practicing sustainability through extending the life of clothing is one of their core priorities and they use personalized algorithms and marketing to ensure your clothes sell as quickly as possible. The one drawback? They currently only accept women’s clothing. image.png

3. GiveBackBox

This is an ingenious idea, and works to reduce packaging waste and clothing waste at the same time. Major online retailers like Nordstrom, Amazon and eBay have all partnered with GiveBackBox, making it possible to use the boxes you receive goods in as donation boxes to charities across the country. The next time you receive a new shipment of shampoo or laundry detergent from Amazon simply repack that box with goods you no longer want, print a shipping label to the charity of your choice from GiveBackBox, and they do the rest. How cool is that? image.png

4. Soles4Souls

Soles4Souls works to keep unwanted shoes and clothing from landfills and instead donates them to individuals in need and helps those individuals start reselling businesses. They’re one of the top-rated nonprofits in the country for their work, and have many channels through which you can help including shoe donation. You can drop off at one of their thousands of physical drop-off sites across the country, or ship for free up to 50lbs with Zappos for Good. image.png

Drop Off Centers/ Charities

5. Goodwill

You know it, you love it, it’s probably one of the first organizations that comes to mind when you think about donating, and that’s a good thing! Your new or gently used items are resold at their stores and the revenue generated goes towards job training and placement services for people in your community — it’s a win-win. They’ve got donation centers across cities in the US as well as donation bins, just make sure it’s a bin marked clearly with their logo, mission statement and a description of the benefitting organization.

6. Salvation Army

Another well-known charity that helps individuals across the nation get help via disaster relief, alcohol and drug rehabilitation, homeless shelters, food pantries and more. All donated goods are sold at the Salvation Army thrift stores and fund their Adult Rehabilitation Centers to help those struggling with alcohol, drugs or other addictions find help. They accept clothing, furniture, household goods, appliances and more. Avoid contributing further to landfills and benefit a great, worthy cause easily with their donation services. You can find a drop-off location, find a thrift store to donate to, schedule a free pick-up and even have your car picked up.

7. American Red Cross

The American Red Cross is involved in so many different charitable efforts from blood donation to CPR training to disaster relief, that it can be hard to remember they also accept donations! They’ve partnered with GreenDrop to turn clothing into funds for those in need via thrift stores across the country. They accept clothing and gently used toys, and you can schedule a pickup or drop off your goods at one of their many locations. After your donation you’ll receive a tax-deductible receipt as well. image.png

8. Career Gear

Career Gear does for men what Dress for Success does for women, it’s a not-for-profit organization that helps men look and feel their best for job interviews through donated clothes, shoes and accessories. Help men in your community gain financial independence through feeling confident in their look and ability by donating your gently used fancier clothing, knowing it’s going to a great cause. They’re not currently accepting clothing donations because of the pandemic, but I decided to include them anyway because the cause is too great to not be aware of. You can find more information about other ways to help and stay up to date on when they’re once again accepting donations at the link below.

9. Vietnam Veterans of America

Vietnam Veterans of America provides a wide range of veterans services from job placement to financial advising, legislative advocacy and claims assistance as well. The organization has over 75,000 members that they provide assistance to through community and shared experience. They’ve also got outreach programs, government relation programs and, you guessed it, a donations channel! They accept clothing and household items of all shapes and sizes in most (but not all) states in the US. You can drop off or have your items picked up, and the best part is they’ll accept “almost anything!” Learn more and find out if you live in a state where they accept donations below. image.png


10. Planet Aid

A simple Google search will give you your local clothing recycling centers, but Planet Aid is a great resource that offers bins across the east coast. Planet Aid recycles, on average, over 90 million pounds of clothing and shoes every year, keeping them out of landfills and preventing slow break down and release of toxic methane gas. Unfortunately, they’ve only got their yellow donation bins in areas across the east coast, but you can sign up to be notified when they add a new bin in your neighborhood. If you live in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Delaware, Pittsburgh, Ohio, Pennsylvania and the DMV metropolitan area — you’re in luck! Find out more and find your local bin below.

11. Terracycle Fabrics and Clothing Zero Waste Box

Terracycle’s Zero Waste Box is another great option for sending in old clothing and textiles you no longer want to be recycled. All of the fabric sent in is segregated into different categories — nylons, cottons, etc — and is either reused, upcycled or recycled depending on its condition. They accept all forms of fabric from old clothing to curtains, blankets, bedsheets, linens and more. They also offer Zero Waste Boxes for things like coffee bags, disposable gloves and even batteries! Check out all of their convenient, trustworthy recycling options below.


It’s April, which may only include one Earth Day (April 22), but the whole month has become a time to discuss sustainability, our environmental status, and anything eco-friendlier! There are a myriad of ways to live more sustainably, but one of my absolute favorites (and the easiest) is bulk buying, including refill pouches. I’ve complained before how hard it is to always know what’s the best decision for packaging at the store. So we’re just gonna learn a bit more together!
Thankfully there are people who know and study way more about this than me to help. The Flexible Packaging Association is working to not only improve the sustainability factor of effective packaging but also help keep us in the know.
While glass may seem better because it’s made from natural resources and can be reused and recycled, it also requires a lot of energy to produce and recycle. That’s not to mention the space and weight required to get it from its place of production to where it’s filled with the food or product to the store/warehouse and to your home. Cardboard is great for many reasons as you can guess, but it’s also usually lined with a coating (because liquids need it and it helps food stay fresh) that usually includes plastic, which has to be handled differently at recycling centers. Not to mention, cardboard can only be recycled so many times. These “life cycle assessments” really make you stop and think, right?! So where does that leave us? Should we just all hide under a rock because there’s not perfect option? Of course not. The truth is, it’s important to look at the whole picture and try to do our best.


You know I love refill store shopping, but my refill store doesn’t have everything I need and not everyone has access to refill stores. Following the same principle that refill/bulk containers save packaging (thereby saving resources, weight, and waste), I look for smaller “bulk” options for our house. Enter refill pouches. My first refill pouch was for the Puracy stain remover (after I overheard its praise at a mom event). We use it on our cloth diapers and now for the whole family! Since then, I’ve really liked how easy it is to get refills for a few containers at a time. I also love that the flexible bag packaging makes them easier to store! image.png


Refill pouches are great are a few reasons… First, refill pouches save you from having to make more trips to the store or have more deliveries – each trip takes gas and causes emissions. Many refill packs offer more than 2 containers per pouch, saving half the trips! Second, refill packs require drastically less water and energy to produce than the typical bottles they’re replacing (check out these numbers for shampoo bottles). Each pouch and bottle are different, but most websites I’ve looked at claim an average of an 80% savings just in the production of the container! Surprising, right?
Third, refill packs are easy to store. I know I’m not the only one who’s been overwhelmed with all the bottles of cleaning products under my sink. And now with C in the house, we’re really trying to cut back in this area. Refill packs store really easily, taking up less and less room as we use the products. Fourth, and this one is personal and sounds superficial, but I love that I can use all my own glass bottles around the house with my own labels. Instead of having all kinds of mismatched necessities, our house looks chic and all pulled together. image.png


Remember that one of the best ways to live more sustainability is simply to use up any and all product you have. The landfill doesn’t need your extra cleaning materials or hand lotion! Depending on the consistency of the product in the refill pouches, there are a few ways to get all that product out. The first is simply to let the last drips go into your container. I’ve set up a funnel for the refill pouch atop my bottle, leaned it against the wall and let gravity do the work for hours. Second, you should use your hand to push all the product to the opening. You can lay the nearly empty bag flat and use the side of your hand to push product to the spout (be careful of it coming out). And finally, you can cut open the pouch (straight across at the bottom is easy) and grab those last bits of product sticking to the sides.


Most of these refill pouches are labeled as plastic #7 which is pretty much a catchall category and very rarely accepted in curbside recycling. Because of that, these pouches must be put into the trash to be taken care of properly. TerraCycle does offer boxes and pouches for recycling plastics that include these refill pouches. You can get the smaller pouch here and the small box here. Additionally, some companies have teamed up with TerraCycle to recycle their refill pouches free of charge to you. You can search here by company to find out if you refill pouches are included! Some companies are working on using other recourse to make these pouches as well, which is exciting!


More and more companies are turning to refill options for their customers. Below is a list of a few beauty and home products that are easily found in refills.


OUAI Detox shampoo (other varieties available) RAHUA Classic Shampoo (also available for thick hair) Puracy Natural Shampoo Citrus & Mint (available in other scents) L’Occitane Intensive Repair Shampoo


OUAI Medium Conditioner (other varieties available) Rahua Classic Conditioner (also available for thick hair) Puracy Natural Conditioner Citrus & Mint (available in other scents)


L’Occitane Almond Shower Gel OUAI Body Cleanser Rahua Organic Body Wash Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant (a fabulous skincare product, now available for refills)! image.png

The greening of goods

Consumers still care about making environmentally-friendly choices. Innovation in products and packaging is helping them do it
Rosalind Stefanac | January 22, 2021
In spite of a recent uptick in single-use products, the research shows that even a global pandemic can’t shake consumers’ desire to make sustainable choices when it comes to food and food packaging. “Conscious consumption was gaining traction before and COVID has only accelerated that,” says analyst Shelley Balanko, senior vice-president at the Hartman Group. “Consumers are looking for foods that are sourced in sustainable ways—and produced and packaged in a way that’s in accordance with their values.” According to a 2020 U.S. survey by global management consulting firm Kearney, 48% of respondents said the pandemic has made them more concerned about the environment, and 55% said they were now more likely to purchase environmentally-friendly products. The survey also showed an 85% increase in consumers who planned to decline plastic utensils with food orders and a whopping 164% increase in those who were planning to buy more items in bulk. Whereas shoppers may have focused on sustainable packaging pre-pandemic, Balanko says now that they’ve gotten “up close and personal” with the fact our food supply chain isn’t infinite, they’re also looking at food waste and carbon impact when selecting products. She expects consumers will not only be looking to see if retailers are carrying sustainable brands, but whether they have sustainable programs in place at the store level, too. Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights, says we can also expect to see some truly innovative developments in packaging coming down the pipe. “Making packaging compostable, biodegradable or easy to recycle will be more and more important going forward,” she says. A good example is SupraPulp, a plastic-free packaging made of sugarcane waste from Israeli food tech startup W-Cycle. Not only is it fully compostable and toxin-free, but it’s durable enough for greasy, wet or hot food and can be frozen or heated. During these pandemic times especially, Williams says packaging with antimicrobial properties (which can kill foodborne diseases) are gaining particular favour. (A European Union-funded project called NanoPack has already produced one successful option.) Even big-name brands are looking to mitigate plastic in landfills by turning to more sustainable packaging solutions. This year, Johnnie Walker launched a paper-based whisky bottle, while PepsiCo is using aluminum cans instead of plastic for its Aquafina water brand. For those retailers still hesitating to implement sustainable programs into their business strategies now, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (a U.K.-based charity focused on inspiring a circular economy) estimates that converting just 20% of plastic packing into re-use models (such as refill and return packaging options) is a US$10-billion global opportunity. According to the Foundation’s 2019 Reuse: Rethinking Packaging report, reuse models can cut down on packaging and transportation costs, improve user experience and build loyalty. Reuse and recycling programs at work Some of Canada’s grocery giants have already made concerted efforts to go sustainable, especially when it comes to products and packaging. This year, Sobeys released its first sustainability report establishing “key action pillars” of People, Planet and Products to steer its future strategies. Part of that is the commitment to reduce food waste, maximize recycling efforts and make it easier for customers to reuse in general. The retailer has already introduced reusable mesh produce bags (partially made from recovered plastic found in oceans), in all Sobeys, Safeway, IGA and Foodland stores. It’s also working with Dartmouth, N.S.- based LakeCity Plastics to turn plastic bags into waterfront benches and tables for installation in public spaces across Atlantic Canada. This project will help divert 720,000 plastic bags from landfills. Last year TerraCycle—a global company that offers free recycling programs funded by brands, manufacturers and retailers—partnered with Loblaw in using its Loop platform, which gives consumers the option to get commonly used products delivered to their door in branded, sustainable packaging that is later collected, cleaned, refilled and reused. “Loblaw is our exclusive grocery retail partner in Canada during the pilot phase … [and] ultimately, Loop’s goal is to be integrated into as many retailers and channels as possible to make the biggest impact,” says Anthony Rossi, executive vice-president of business development at TerraCycle & Loop. Loblaw will launch an online pilot program using Loop in the Greater Toronto Area in early 2021. (Just this past October, Tim Hortons announced it was partnering with Loop on a plan to offer reusable food and beverage containers at select Toronto stores in 2021.) Rossi encourages grocers to promote brands that use TerraCyle right on the landing page of their websites and in-store to prompt shoppers to make sustainable choices. “Retailers can partner with TerraCycle and the brands to offer compelling, emotionally engaging retail programs with simple, intuitive and accessible ways to recycle,” he adds. In the meantime, online grocers like SPUD.ca are using TerraCycle Zero Waste Boxes to recycle products for their customers. While the program is currently on hold during COVID-19, pre-pandemic shoppers simply left their empty packaging in the SPUD bin for pickup and the retailer would ship it back to TerraCycle in bulk. (Consumers can also drop off their used containers to any of the SPUD-owned Be Fresh Market and Cafés or Blush Lane Organic Markets located in British Columbia and Alberta.) SPUD has introduced several other recycling initiatives to its customers, including glass bottle distribution and pickup for milk and soap refills. Michelle Austin, SPUD’s sustainability lead, says the fact SPUD is doing the pickup removes the barrier of customers having to return containers to a store. “Customers are actually asking us to do more in this space and we’re responding,” she says. “We’re glad they see value in the zero waste that we do.” Focusing on food waste At Organic Garage, an independent grocer in Ontario, zero food waste initiatives have been a priority from the onset, says Randee Glassman, director of marketing. “We have a fantastic bulk program with up to 60 items,” she says. “We have amazing teas and spices in bulk, along with household cleaners and soaps.” Even with COVID-19, she says they’ve been able to bring the bulk program back by providing containers and featuring hand sanitizing stations throughout. The grocer also works with waste companies to ensure all vegetable trimmings and fruit waste are recycled into cattle feed. Inedible byproducts from its meat department (i.e., meat bones, discarded meat fats and store grease) are also transformed into both industrial and consumer fare. This whole idea of “upcycling” (or using food waste to create new products) is a trend that both analysts and retailers anticipate will gain momentum in the coming years as the effort to tackle the world’s 1.3 billion tons of annual food waste becomes a bigger priority. “We make an effort to identify and bring in upcycled products where available as it is a category that is growing,” says Anthony D’Addario, vice-president of operations at Nature’s Emporium in Ontario. He points to favoured brands like Barnana, which upcycles bananas to make sweet and savoury treats, and Outcast Foods, which makes protein powder and vitamins from imperfect produce. In fact, Outcast Foods is now working with Sobeys in Nova Scotia to divert the grocer’s unsellable fruits and veggies from landfills into quality products. This aligns with Sobeys’ pledge to reduce food waste across its operations by 50% by 2025. As more and more upcycled products come into the market, the expectation is that shoppers will want complete transparency, too. The Upcycled Food Association is in the process of developing a certification program that will allow qualified products to carry an identifying seal clearly showing they are upcycled or contain upcycled ingredients. Cutting carbon footprint It’s not surprising that shoppers concerned about climate change will be looking for food products with smaller carbon footprints. To that end, this year Panera became the first restaurant chain to partner with the World Resources Institute (WRI) in listing entrees on its menu as climate-friendly “Cool Food Meals.” Similar to recommended calories per day, the WRI has established a maximum recommended daily carbon footprint for a person’s diet, which is 38% smaller than the current average. While carbon labels on grocery products aren’t new, there’s been a resurgence of late in this area, with companies like Oatly and Quorn Food in the United Kingdom launching carbon label initiatives in 2020. To further raise awareness around the environmental impact of food, Swedish food company Felix opened a pop-up “Climate Store” in Stockholm in October and based all product prices on carbon footprint: the bigger the emission, the higher the price. The company is also starting to add low climate impact labels on products with emissions that are at least half of the average for food in Sweden. Nespresso is another manufacturer that recently announced plans to better tackle carbon emissions across its products and supply chain. Along with increasing the use of low-carbon virgin aluminum in its coffee capsules, the company has committed to planting trees in coffee farms and investing in forest conservation and restoration projects. The goal is for every cup of Nespresso coffee to be carbon-neutral by 2022. Sustainable next steps As manufacturers and suppliers address a growing trend towards sustainable products and packaging, grocers are, ultimately, tasked with helping consumers make sustainable choices. “One challenge with sustainability is the metrics can vary so it’s hard to say one product is more sustainable than another in absolute terms,” says Innova Market Insights’ Williams. “But there is always the opportunity to look for products that have attributes that are sustainable so shoppers looking for that could more easily find [them].” To keep sustainability initiatives on track, there’s also a need to make “sustainable choices the sustainable choice,” says Eli Browne, director of corporate sustainability at Sobeys. “[Consumers] may be asking for sustainable products but there is always that value pricing pressure, and we need to be able to respond accordingly to provide quality products at price points people can afford,” she explains, adding that this is both the challenge and opportunity in working with suppliers. Browne says there are instances where suppliers have come to Sobeys or vice-versa to come up with new innovations when it comes to sustainable packaging. “I think a great example is our cucumber trays, which went from a non-recyclable plastic to a molded fibre tray that can be recycled,” she says. “Now it’s grown to be an industry standard.” Along with providing shoppers with sustainable choices in products and packaging, there’s an onus on retailers to educate their customers in how to promote environmentally friendly habits at home too, adds Browne. “I see education and engaging customers to make the right choice going hand in hand,” she says. “Being in a retail space where people have to go to eat, we have that privilege and responsibility to be part of the solution.”

Best Composting Services

Turn your food waste into a usable product

Written by
Published 01/13/21
Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

A staggering percentage of the waste we send to landfills could find a happier home in community gardens, where food scraps can transform into fertilizer and feed soil. Not everyone understands how to separate their trash into recyclables and compostables, but even fewer of us are equipped to complete the full composting process at home. That’s where composting services come in.

In many cities around the country, private or public services exist to pick up your compostable waste at regular intervals, the same way your trash is collected. Some cities offer public services for pickup or drop-off of your compostables, while other areas rely on startups and community-led organizations to help citizens compost. Most compost services are highly local, so the best way to find the right one for you is to check into the options in your specific area. Here, we’ve selected four of the best composting services, each of which offers a unique benefit or business model.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: CompostNow

Why We Chose It: With locations around the Southeast, this North Carolina-based company is affordable, hassle-free, and mission-minded.
What We Like
  • Affordable monthly fee
  • Weekly pickups that include a new, clean compost bin
  • Website connects users outside the service area with other local compost services
What We Don’t Like
  • Limited service area

Founded in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 2011, CompostNow serves households around the Southeast in pursuit of a single mission: to “close the loop on food waste” by saving more scraps from landfills. The company offers a weekly pickup service for its residential customers. To use it, just fill your CompostNow-provided bin with compostable waste throughout the week, and set it outside your home on collection day. CompostNow will take the bin—and your waste—and leave behind a fresh, clean container for you to use in the coming week.

Plans start at $29 per month, and additional options are available on request for offices or food service businesses. Customers can choose to earn back compost or donate the spoils of their food waste to a local community garden. As of January 2021, CompostNow has saved more than 28 million pounds of food waste from being sent to landfills, resulting in more than 9 million pounds of soil-enriching compost.

Its straightforward, beginner-friendly model makes composting easy for customers, but if the company hasn’t expanded to your area yet, you’re not totally out of luck. CompostNow keeps a directory of compost pickup services around the country on its website, another sign that saving the planet is just as important to the company as finding its own customers. If you do go with CompostNow, though, they’ll reward you for it: Members can earn a $10 credit for every referral.

Most Customizable: Compostable

Why We Chose It: A relative newcomer, this Los Angeles service allows users to choose between weekly or biweekly pickups, with the option for those with extra waste to add a second bin.
What We Like
  • Affordable monthly fees with various pickup frequencies
  • Option to add odor-reducing sawdust to subscription
  • Compost donated to local community gardens, with option to take some home twice per year
What We Don’t Like
  • Service area limited to Los Angeles
  • One-time setup fee

When Monique Figueiredo moved to Los Angeles from Boston, she was surprised to find that composting wasn’t as easy as she hoped it would be. She did something about it, and in 2019, Compostable was born. Since then, the company—which picks up compost bins from customers and delivers them to one of two composting locations—has successfully repurposed more than 70,000 pounds of compost into feed soil as of January 2021, educating scores of customers on sustainability in the process.

To sign up for Compostable’s services, just indicate your preferred pickup frequency: Biweekly service runs about $30 per month, while more regular weekly pickups cost about $45 per month. If you find yourself needing to empty the compost bin more often than this, you can also add a second bin for $20 per month—a perfect fix for those with a lot of organic food waste. Every membership requires a small one-time setup fee, and subscribers can opt to receive sawdust (an add-on that can decrease odor, mold, and pests) with their subscriptions for about $2 per month.

Compostable hauls all pickups to Cottonwood Urban Farm or GrowGood Farm, where waste is naturally converted into compost and used to help gardens throughout the year. Twice yearly, members can visit Cottonwood to see what their kitchen scraps have helped grow—and take home some compost themselves if they wish.

Best for Sustainability: Reclaimed Organics

Why We Chose It: While composting in general is a positive step for sustainability, this New York City organization raises the stakes by conducting its pickups by bike.

What We Like
  • Pickups conducted by bike
  • Actively advocates for free community composting
  • Cleans buckets and replaces compost liner with every pickup
What We Don’t Like
  • Only available in Manhattan
  • No option to keep compost

Reclaimed Organics is an offshoot of Common Ground Compost, an organization dedicated to reducing waste in New York City through consulting, advocacy, education, and other avenues. So, it’s no wonder that the Manhattan service’s green priorities extend to its delivery method: Most of the pickups completed by Reclaimed Organics are completed by bike.

Once you sign up for the organization’s compost pickup service, you’ll receive a five-gallon plastic compost bucket lined with a compostable bag. Depending on your location within the city, the cost is $20 to $25 (and per bucket, if you have more than one). At each collection, your bucket will be sanitized and the compostable liner will be replaced. While this service is primarily focused on residential customers, Reclaimed Organics does offer solutions for small businesses like coffee shops on request.

After pickup, all scraps go to the East Side Outside Community Garden in the East Village, where they are repurposed to enrich the soil and help new plant growth. And while Reclaimed Organics’ service area is relatively small, it does occasionally offer options for those who may be out of range: Keep an eye on the company’s website and social media channels for pop-up drop-off stations.

Best for Nationwide Service: TerraCycle


Why We Chose It: By operating through the mail to recycle or compost your waste, this environmentally conscious company offers service in areas many other composting services don’t—even if it does come at a cost.

What We Like

  • Offers many recycling options in addition to composting
  • No regular pickup schedule, ideal for low-waste users
  • Offers composting in areas that might not otherwise have it
  • Partnership with Dyper offers composting option for new parents
What We Don’t Like
  • Costs can be high
  • Shipping may negate some environmental benefits of composting
  • No option to keep compost

Zero Waste Boxes come in many varieties, from specific models for single-use coffee pods to general boxes for recyclables. If you’re looking for a composting service specifically, you’ll likely need the Organics Zero Waste Container, a sealable five-gallon drum you can use to both collect and ship your compostable waste. When it’s full, ship it back to TerraCycle—you can use the same box it arrived in, along with the prepaid shipping label that's provided. Then order a new one to keep composting.

At about $170 per pail, composting with TerraCycle comes with a significant startup cost, especially if you have a lot of compostable waste. But for those who don’t fill a compost bin very quickly or lack a quality local composting option, TerraCycle might be the right choice: You can move at your own pace without paying for regular pickups that you don’t need. The company also recently announced a partnership with Dyper, a compostable diaper subscription company. The “ReDyper” service uses HazMat shipping standards to allow parents to compost diapers rather than throwing them away.

Final Verdict
When it comes to a composting service that is straightforward, affordable, and easy to set up, CompostNow sets the standard. Its easy-to-use website and weekly bin replacement is the kind of program every composter should have access to. And with a presence in multiple Southern cities, CompostNow is slowly expanding to make that a reality. TerraCycle, while expensive and not always the greenest option, was the only composting service available nationwide. At $170 per bucket, it’s not an accessible option for many composters, but may be a possibility for those with a mobile lifestyle or folks who only fill their composting bin once every few months.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is a Composting Service?

Much of the organic matter you usually throw away releases nutrients as it decomposes that can enrich the soil and help new food or growth flourish—but that doesn’t happen when you send those items to landfills. When you separate and collect this organic waste (such as vegetable peels, apple cores, other food scraps, leaves, and more), composting services pick up the decomposing matter on a regular basis or by request, transporting it to a farm or garden where nature can run its course. In some cases, composting services also offer the compost back to their clients for them to use in their own gardens when the natural process is complete.

How Much Does a Composting Service Cost?

Each composting service has a different price structure, whether they charge monthly, weekly, or per pickup. While public options through your city or county may be free, composting services from private companies tend to run between $8 and $20 per pickup, with lower costs in smaller cities and special deals for those who subscribe to frequent pickups. Occasionally, there may be an initial setup fee to account for your collection bucket and administrative expenses. If you opt for a service that operates through the mail such as TerraCycle, be prepared to pay much more: TerraCycle's Zero Waste Box for organic matter costs more than $150 per fill.

Why Use a Composting Service?

Many consumers want to limit the amount of waste they send to landfills and build habits that preserve our planet, but not everyone has the space at home (or the time) to compost all of their kitchen waste themselves. Composting services outsource this duty to farms and community gardens that can handle a large volume of decomposing matter, saving the average composting client time and mess while, in many cases, still allowing them to reap the benefits of fertilized soil.

Why Doesn’t This List Include a Composting Service in My City?

In most cases, the best option for composting service is a local provider, not a national brand. To find the very best composting service in your area, start by looking for nearby community gardens or organizations that might be able to point you in the right direction. You can also check municipal websites. While this list does include a mail-in provider and a multi-city regional organization, the most cost-efficient and environmentally conscious composting choice is always one that is local to you—and no single list could include every worthy provider in the country. To find a local option, you can still start with the top providers we’ve listed here: CompostNow offers a handy map to help would-be composters find providers in their area.

How We Chose the Best Composting Services

To choose the best composting services, we started by looking for companies that offered nationwide compost pickup, but we quickly learned that this service is almost entirely handled by local organizations and city governments. So, we focused on looking for organizations that offer compost services in particularly unique, innovative, or intuitive ways, to shine a light on their practices and point local consumers their way.

CompostNow, one of few companies that operate in more than one city, rose to the top for its easy-to-use website, affordable prices, and its willingness to give compost back to subscribers. And the company connects users with compost services even if they’re out of CompostNow’s service area: Look at its map of composting services around the nation as ample proof.

Compostable, a relative newcomer in Los Angeles, stood out for the several ways users can customize their composting subscriptions. Reclaimed Organics, a Manhattan-based service, takes sustainability to the next level by shrinking the service’s carbon footprint.

And TerraCycle—an outlier in price, but also in the large number of service area options—offers the unusual service of composting by mail, a decent choice for users with little waste or who may spend time on the road and in RVs.

Wow, You Can Recycle That?

We hear all the time about recycling plastic bottles and aluminum cans, but what about some of the lesser mentioned items? In response to reader queries, we’ve assembled a list of some odd items that may have you saying, “Wow, you can recycle that?”

Blue Jeans

You know the regular routine. When you no longer need, like, or fit into your jeans, you can always donate them to a charitable resale organization like Goodwill or The Salvation Army. You’ve heard it a million times, so let’s not make it a million-and-one. We’re actually talking about physically recycling your jeans. After all, some clothes are just too far worn or damaged to head to a resale shop and deserve a proper [recycling] burial. Enter pioneering companies like Blue Jeans Go Green and Bonded Logic, which manufacture insulation products from recycled denim and cotton fibers. Blue Jeans Go Green offers a variety of denim recycling options through selected retailer dropoff locations, mail-in programs, and denim drives.
Photo: Flickr/suttonhoo


Automotive Fluids

Are you a DIYer when it comes to car care? Many of the fluids that power your car are actually recyclable once you change them out, most notably used motor oil and antifreeze. Used motor oil can be re-refined into brand-new products that can go back into your car, recycled into clean lubricants, or burned as fuel. As long as the used oil hasn’t been contaminated with other fluids, most oil change service companies or auto parts stores accept used motor oil for recycling from the public. Used antifreeze can also be recycled by filtering out contaminants such as lead, then restoring the original properties through stabilizing additives. The recycled product is not only excellent quality, but it can also be less expensive to purchase and has a smaller carbon footprint. Antifreeze should never be left out or dumped as its sweet taste can poison animals and children.

Snack Wrappers, Drink Pouches, & Chip Bags

Any idea what material candy wrappers, drink pouches, and chip bags are made of? If you answered “no,” you’re not alone as this is a common question we get asked a lot. This confusion is usually what makes these wrappers and bags so difficult to recycle. These items tend to be made of mixed materials, making the recovery of useful plastics and other materials difficult and expensive. In other words, most recyclers don’t want to touch the stuff! But TerraCycle, a company dedicated to eliminating the idea of waste, has a recycling solution. You can recycle wrappers from candy, chips, granola bars, gum, and other snacks through their Candy and Snack Wrappers Zero Waste Box. Just order the box, save up your empty snack wrappers, and send it back to TerraCycle with the prepaid return label. Note that there is a fee for this recycling solution. (Check TerraCycle’s free recycling solutions for other waste streams.)

Cooking Oil

Cooking oil recycling has grown leaps and bounds in the last few years as its value to the biofuel industry has increased. While it may seem natural to pour your leftover cooking oil and grease down the drain, it can actually be harmful to wildlife and the environment and damage your pipes and local sewage systems. In fact, cooking oil and kitchen grease in our plumbing is the No. 1 cause of stopped-up sewer pipes. Commercial facilities already contribute substantial amounts of used oil to alternative fuel programs, but there are household cooking oil recycling programs as well. Make a designated waste oil container, label it, and add to it each time there is leftover oil from your cooking. Then search for a local recycling location with Earth911 Recycling Search or contact local restaurants to see if they accept the cooking oil for recycling.

Six-Pack Beverage Rings

Those plastic six-pack beverage rings have definitely received their share of criticism over the years. Like so many plastic packaging materials, they are often disposed of carelessly, polluting public spaces and waterways and endangering wildlife. The rings are made of plastic #4 (LDPE) and can be recycled in programs that accept low-density polyethylene resin. If your curbside recycling program is limited to plastics #1 and #2 or limits the types of LDPE accepted, consider getting a group collection together and participating in the Hi-Cone Ring Leader Recycling Program. Hi-Cone’s Ringleader program will accept the six-pack rings in large quantities for recycling through various school programs, as well as through the mail. The company has worked with more than 12,000 schools and groups to collected and recycle the used rings.
Photo: Flickr/ Louis Abate


Gift Cards, Hotel Key Cards, & Other Plastic Cards

A five-minute clean-out of your wallet, purse, or junk drawer is likely to yield a lot of plastic, from used gift cards to old library cards. Insignificant as they may seem, those cards are typically made of a plastic resin called polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is infinitely recyclable. Yet it’s most often landfilled, contributing to more than 75 million pounds of PVC entering the waste stream each year. Although you likely can’t recycle these cards in your curbside bin, TerraCycle offers a solution for recycling these items with its Plastic Cards Zero Waste Box. Note that there is a fee for this recycling solution. (Check TerraCycle’s free recycling solutions for other waste streams.)

Tennis Balls

Rebounces accepts old tennis balls for recycling and refurbishing. Those brightly colored tennis balls should still be of reasonable quality, and you should wait until you’ve saved up a large amount.
Photo: Flickr/TCL8TO7


Ski Equipment

When your skis just aren’t cutting (or carving) it anymore, consider recycling them instead of tossing them. Vermont-based Green Mountain Ski Furniture will convert your old skis into a custom chair, bench, table, rack, or another custom-built piece. What a great way to preserve those memories! Custom orders typically take 10 to 14 weeks for completion.