Let us guess…. you have a lot of stuff, right? It’s probably everywhere, all around you right now. The stuff we buy out of need, desire, or sheer boredom. The stuff that we tend to let consume every corner of our homes, every dollar in our budget and every waking moment of our day. This stuff has the power to touch so many parts of our lives, both physically and mentally. Here at SatlyLama, we try to focus on experiences over stuff. But of course, there are needs and desires. So, when we do need stuff, we try to source, purchase, and use those things in the most sustainable way possible. But what happens when that stuff no longer serves us? Do we just throw it out with the hopes that we’ll soon forget about it?
Not here. We try to remain sustainable through the entire lifecycle of a thing, including during the departure phase. Recycling isn’t just for cardboard and bottles, but it’s a way to give a second life to your stuff, because one man’s trash may just be another man’s treasure. Too cheesy? Okay, never mind.
In the vein of sustainable lifecycles, a fantastic case study to look into is the circular economy in Europe, a model of production and consumption, which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible. This economic model aims to tackle challenges like climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution by empathizing design-based sustainability that allows products and materials to circulate. In fact, in January 2018, the European Commission published the European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy, which sets for the first time a vision for EU's new plastics economy. It states that by 2030, all plastic packaging placed on the EU market should be reusable or recyclable. And if you are interested in taking your recycling practice a step further by supporting companies at the forefront of the circular economy, here are some of our favorites:
We’re used to smart meters measuring electricity and water. But now British start-up Winnow has developed smart meters that analyze trash. They are used in commercial kitchens to measure what food gets thrown away, and then identify ways to reduce waste. Up to a fifth of food purchased can be wasted in some kitchens, and Winnow estimates it can cut that in half, saving its customers $25 million. That is the equivalent of preventing one meal from going to waste every seven seconds.
SELLEX S.A.U. was founded in 1977 in San Sebastian, and right from the beginning all its efforts were devoted to the promotion sustainable furniture, making their pieces out of recycle materials. Sellex is a company devoted to the manufacturing of design furniture for the contract market: Healthcare (Clinics and Hospitals), Hospitality (Hotels, Restaurants and Cafeterias), Passenger terminals (Airports, Bus and Railway Stations, Sea Port Terminals), Offices , Cultural Spaces (Libraries, Universities), Public Spaces (Congress Halls, Auditoriums), Churches, Chapels and Funeral Homes. The furniture maker designs and manufactures benches, folding beds, modern library furniture, knock-down tables, chairs and more.
The textiles industry uses vast quantities of water and chemicals and produces huge amounts of waste, which is a major problem in countries like China, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Thailand. But Dutch company DyeCoo has developed a process of dyeing cloth that uses no water at all, and no chemicals other than the dyes themselves. It uses highly pressurized “supercritical” carbon dioxide, halfway between a liquid and a gas, that dissolves the dye and carries it deep into the fabric. The carbon dioxide then evaporates, and is in turn recycled and used again. 98% of the dye is absorbed by the cloth. And because the cloth doesn’t need to dry, the process takes half the time, uses less energy, and even costs less. The company already has partnerships with major brands like Nike and IKEA.
Need a new pair of jeans? MUD Jeans is your one stop shop. This leading denim brand founded in the Netherlands incorporates a circular business model to produce its popular items. It creates high quality, long lasting pieces designed from eco-friendly materials including GOTS certified organic and recycled cotton. Its messaging encourages customers to wear MUD jeans for as long as possible, and it even provides free repair services within the first year to free shipping areas.
BEEN London creates minimal and elegant bags designed out of waste materials including recycled leather and polyester. These bags are made in London out of sustainable materials, to last you throughout the years and seasons. The leather industry creates a huge amount of waste, and approximately 40% of every hide is discarded at tanneries. The brand uses these off-cut leather pieces that would otherwise end up in landfill from the pre-chemical treatment stage, and uses fabric made out of recycled bottles to line its bags. With the origins of its materials mapped out, BEEN London is making great strides in the circularity of fashion.
And that’s fantastic! Here at SaltyLama, we celebrate the innovation of sustainably. Because how cool is it that the parts from my outdated cellphone can be reused to make a TV, that my worn jeans can be made into a new pair, or that carbon dioxide can be used for good? But not everyone is a million dollar company with the ability to change design, manufacturing and reuse processes at scale. We know. But no worries. Because there things you can do every day to ensure your discarded items are being reused as well as possible.
- eWaste & Appliances
It is estimate that between 20 to 50 million metric tons of e-waste are disposed every year. Unfortunately, only about 12.5% of it is recycled. One simple way to efficiently manage e-waste is to simply sell your working electronics. You may find a buyer via eBay or Craigslist. Many of these buyers will use them, resell them, or use / sell the parts. If you’re handy, try disassembling the device to recycle the battery and other parts at computer or electronic recycler units. You can also use the manufacturer’s Take Back program when you upgrade.
The European Commission is calling for an end to fast fashion by 2030 as it announced the expansion of its circular economy. The means companies like Shein and Fashion Nova may have a hard time selling to European customers. But until the end of fast fashion, in the meantime, try to refrain from throwing out unwanted clothes. Instead, try donating to a family member in need, a teenager with a similar fashion sense or even selling clothes to consignment stores.
Getting ready to do some redecorating? Looking for new furniture? Well, not so fast. Remember that there may be a sustainable way to reuse that piece before you throw it out. Maybe refinish or reupholster it. Maybe add wheels and repurpose it? If you just can’t find a way to make it work into your new decor, no worries. There are still ways to keep things sustainable. You can always keep it local and donate your furniture to a younger family member moving into their first apartment. List it on your social media, as there may be someone else in need. And if all else fails, donate it through a furniture re-use program or a resell store. This will ensure that it becomes a useful item for someone else and it keeps your precious memories out of the local landfill.
Between our individual recycling practices and making conscious decisions to support companies dedicated to sustainable design, development and manufacturing of products, we can make a dent. Recycling helps tackle climate change. Recycling creates jobs. Recycling not only benefits the environment. Recycling saves natural resources. It helps us all and we’re excited that you’re on board.