During the holiday season, it is worth remembering our collective purchasing power can make a difference on our eco-footprint. Whether you’re a big believer in the circular economy, you want to change the amount of plastic in our oceans, or you’re shocked by the sheer scale of our global food waste, perhaps it’s time to think outside the (gift) box.
The holidays don’t have to be a time of wild consumer abandon, and through conscientious purchasing and recycled gifts, we can begin to change the status quo and make a real statement about the kind of products we want to buy. Here, we take a look at a selection of innovative materials, products, and recycled gift ideas to ensure your holiday is as sustainable as possible.
Citrus FruitOrange Fiber
Our love of pre-packaged orange juice (and other citrus products) is estimated to produce more than 40 million tons of citrus waste worldwide, with high acidity, slow decomposition, and possible pesticide contamination. Thankfully, there are companies turning all that peel into beautiful recycled gifts.
Orange Fiber is an Italian company who crafts luxury fabrics from an orange peel. After receiving numerous awards over the past five years, the company partnered with H&M in 2019, producing the Orange Fiber X H&M Conscious Exclusive collection, as well as collaborating with Salvatore Ferragamo’s exclusive fashion house in Italy.
Ocean PlasticInnovative Fabric
There’s no escaping the devastating impact of plastics on our oceans, with microplastics now being discovered at even the smallest scale. However, numerous companies are taking advantage of the rising awareness of this problem, attempting to recapture some of that ocean plastic before it degrades and causes further problems.
Patagonia was the first to show what could be done with this “waste” material in 1993, using ocean plastics in its popular fleeces in order to reduce its reliance on raw, petroleum-based materials. There’s now a wealth of companies using ocean plastics to make clothing and sneakers; including the Adidas Parley range and the groundbreaking Waste2Wear, which tracks its production process from the ocean to its recycled plastic gifts using blockchain technology.
E-waste is among the fastest-growing waste streams on the planet, and consumers’ desire for new devices is only growing. This sharp rise in waste generation over the past decade is also compounded by the numerous challenges surrounding the effective recycling of complex devices that often contain harmful chemicals and materials. Thankfully, some companies are now looking to harness this new resource and relieve the burden on our recycling facilities.
Pentatonic, based in Germany, takes a particularly holistic approach to e-waste recycling, even going as far as recycling smartphone glass—a product that is usually separated and sent to landfill within conventional e-waste recycling processes. Currently, Pentatonic offers a selection of stylish pendants cast using salvaged gold and silver from electronic devices—they ship anywhere in the world and they’re the perfect recycled material gifts for any eco-conscious tech lover.
Natural dyes have been around for millennia, however, our relatively recent dependence on chemical dyes has seen ancient practices involving natural colorings fall out of fashion. Many of the dyes used within the fashion industry are extremely harmful to the environment and use millions of liters of water during processing.
Today, companies are reverting to old practices, using waste products from agriculture to mass-produce natural dyes for use within the fashion industry. Popular denim manufacturer G-Star Raw is leading the way and, through its collaboration with Archroma, the company is offering a number of men’s and women’s garments dyed using waste products from beetroot, palm leaf, nutshells, and olives. They’re a recycled gift option for any fashion follower with a penchant for sustainable clothing.
Pushing the circular economy forward is a common theme among many of the products featured on our list—repurposing “waste” and keeping raw materials in use for as long as possible. However, while many of the products featured employ waste materials that we’re aware of, there are billions of tons of waste created by the industrial sector that barely get a second thought.
In an effort to “question our notion of waste”, one group of designers from the Royal College of Art has taken a small chunk of the 150 million tons of Red Mud produced annually by the aluminum industry and worked with factories, research labs, and ceramicists to create a range of ceramics, glazes, and geopolymer concretes. While the products are not on sale yet, they’ll be on the recycled gift list for next year.
Plastic pollution is a pervasive issue that deserves at least two mentions on our list, and for the budding interior designer, Luken Furniture has exactly what you’re looking for. This Mexican-based company has recycled close to 200,000 bottles to date, and each of its beautifully designed pieces is made using 100% recycled plastic.
Including furniture for both outdoors and indoors, and with the option of custom recycled gifts made to order, Luken Furniture is focused on the circular economy. To complement its beautiful plastic pieces, the company also produces a range of furniture from reclaimed marble.
For more information on recycling and waste management, contact RTS today. We will be happy to help your business reduce, donate, and recycle waste in the most efficient and effective ways possible and, perhaps next year, your business waste will be hitting the shelves as a recycled gift ready for the holidays!