Tag Archives: recycling

That annoying little plastic bag: getting the 911 on a runaway problem

Those little plastic problems: what to do when you walk home with plastic in hand

Ok- all this sustainablity has indeed raised my awareness!  Inevitably, you end up somewhere without your green grocer bag in hand, and end up walking home with some plastic.  What to do?

Well, did you know you can recycle them too?

According to the website Status Clean, Recycled plastic bags can be reprocessed into many items, including plastic lumber, paneling, trash cans and floor tiles.


And according to earth911.com, there are other post consumer products made from recycled plastic as well: plastic bags can be made into second generation products including durable building and construction products, door and window frames, exterior moldings, low-maintenance fencing and decks. Plastic bags can also be reprocessed into post-consumer resin used in the production of new bags, pallets, containers, crates and pipes.


Here are earth 911’s Top 10 Reasons to Recycle Plastic Bags

1. It’s Right Around the Corner According to the Plastics Division of the American Chemistry Council, more than 1,800 U.S. businesses handle or reclaim post-consumer plastics. (check out your local grocery store!)

2. It’s Worth a Thousand Words Plastic bags photodegrade, meaning they slowly break down into smaller and smaller bits that can contaminate soils and waterways.

3. We Need a Boost According to the American Chemistry Council, only about 13 percent of polyethylene bags and film were recycled in 2009.

4. Everyone Wants It There is a high demand for this material, and in most areas, demand exceeds the available supply because many consumers are not aware that collection programs are available at stores.

5. It’s Easier Than You Think It takes 91 percent less energy to recycle a pound of plastic than it takes to recycle a pound of paper.

6. You Can Save a Trip For every seven trucks needed to deliver paper bags, only one truck is needed for the same number of plastic bags.

7. Just Let It Burn Plastics can help trash burn more efficiently in energy-recovery facilities, creating energy that can be used to make electricity in some communities.

8. It’s Going Coast to Coast Small plastic bags made up about 9 percent of the debris found along various U.S. coasts in a five-year study.

9. Save Some Gas When one ton of plastic bags is reused or recycled, the energy equivalent of 11 barrels of oil is saved.

10. It’s So Trashy According to the EPA, the amount of plastics generation in municipal waste stream has increased from less than 1 percent in 1960 to 12.3 percent in 2009.


Here’s the 411 on The Recycling Process:

A plastic bag is a thermoplastic, meaning it is capable of being repeatedly softened by heat and hardened by cooling.

1. First, the plastic is melted down.

2. The softened plastic is then pushed through an extruder. To visualize this, reflect back on the days when you owned a Play-Doh kitchen set and you made delicious plates of bright green spaghetti. Squeezing Play-Doh through the little machine to make it into noodles is similar to extruding.

3. An extruder die appropriately shapes the plastic before it is cut with a knife.

4. The end result could be a large piece of composite lumber or thousands of little pellets, which can be used to make other plastic products.


What’s Next?

Though the discussion of plastic bag bans has increased (the U.N. has even suggested a global ban), San Francisco is currently the only U.S. city to outlaw them.


But, until that time, if you end up with a plastic bag, besides dirty diapers, doggie doo, and other small trash items, recycle it at your local store!

Here are some Tips on Recycling Plastic Bags that I found at 911 earth:

Due to their light weight, most curbside programs do not accept plastic bags. They can easily get stuck inside machinery when recycled as well. However, most grocery stores throughout the U.S. now offer plastic bag recycling. However, the trick is actually remembering to take those excess bags with you next time you go to the store. Here are a couple of reminding tips:

  • Hang a cloth bag in your kitchen or garage where you put excess plastic bags. It will be easy to notice once you leave the house.
  • When filling out your grocery list, make sure to add “recycle plastic bags.”
  • Don’t forget about the other light weight plastics! Plastic film, dry cleaning bags, newspaper bags and plastic wrap from products can be recycled at your grocery store as well.
  • Toss your leftover plastic bags in your reusable shopping bags. You’ll remember both on your next trip to the store.
  • http://earth911.com/news/2009/06/15/360-recycling-plastic-bags/

Fun with recycling: denim

Ever wonder what to do with that old pair of jeans?

Well, with the advent of recycling we have plenty of options!

Instead of adding to the 68 pounds of trashed textiles each year (as indicated by the NRDC: Natural Resources Defense Council), we can take advantage of the 3 R’s: renew, reuse, and recycle! http://ecolocalizer.com/2010/11/16/10-ways-to-recycle-clothes-3-recycled-clothes-purchasing-options-america-recycles-week/


1.) What are some of the benefits of recycling our denim?  Well, besides keeping it out of landfills, this fiber has some wonderful properties that lend themselves perfectly for reconstitution into other things, such as insulation or automotive upholstery.

You can check out this cool movie on how old jeans are cut apart and reconstituted into new fibers called: Tearing it apart to get it together, put on by one vendor (Nudiejeans) who is making significant headway on making new jeans our of old jeans:


Watch Post Recycle Dry – The Movie: www.youtube.com/watch?v=fW-rm3Lu3CM – Cached

  1. Tearing it apart to get it together. Old worn out jeans are cut into pieces and put together into a new fabric. Old worn-out jeans are cut into pieces …

<img src=”/media/cache/e8/70/e870f08e0aa109906b5376960fb61acc.jpg” width=”693″ height=”462″>

According to the vendor Nudiejeans, cotton fibres actually last much longer than we normally tend to use, or wear them. In 2007, Nudie Jeans started the Recycle Denim Maniacs programme, in which a number of textile students were chosen to create new designs out of old, worn-out jeans.

As an extension of this idea, together with ISKO(tm) they recycle old worn-out jeans in order to manufacture new denim. The garments are cut into pieces, and then milled down to a cotton-like pulp, which in turn becomes new yarn, used for new fabrics. Because, as you texile buffs know, the fibres of pure recycled yarn are very short, therefore virgin organic cotton is blended in order to get a durable fabric.

Makes me want to go check out the SKU at Barney’s (the US’s exclusive retailer for this maker- for their Slim Jim offerring)

Option 2.)

Of course, you can donate to your local charity where I live, such as Goodwill, or the Salvation Army. Here in Richardson, we are blessed that organizations such as the National Federation for the Blind http://www.nfbtx.org/ call once a month to see if we have anything to donate. And, with kids, it’s easy to go throw clothes they grow so quickly!

In fact, in their article Back to School Shopping with Retex Northwest, recycling vendor Retex states that only 53% of parents have their children wear old clothes from year to year, with only 14% of those textiles being recycled. ttp://www.treehugger.com/sustainable-fashion/back-to-school-shopping-with-retex-northwest.html

But we have options! Cotton may be made into rags or form a component for new quality paper. Knitted or woven woolens and similar materials are “pulled” into a fibrous state for reuse by the textile industry. Other types of fabric can be reprocessed into fibers for upholstery, insulation, and even building materials.

In the recycling process that Retex uses,buttons and zippers are stripped off for reuse. Very little is left over at the end of the process. The remaining natural materials are “composed,” leaving less than 5% of the total collected as solid waste. Recycling clothing helps our communities by reducing the size of landfills and it helps the global community by providing clothing and jobs in disadvantaged regions of the world.


Retex partners with local businesses to provide stations for recycling garments– not just for resale back to used clothing shops, but using those good for two purposes:

a.)wearable clothes go to impoverished countries that need affordable clothing

b.) nonwearable items are turned into industrial rags, or recycled new fiber for a multitude of items, such as stuffing automotive seats, or new fabric in other consumer goods.

Just imagine your old jeans as a beautiful eco alternative to insulation:


Check it out: In partnership with Levis Straus, Bonded Logic’s UltraTouch Natural Fiber Insulation is made from 85% post-industrial cotton fiber. That means they aren’t digging your old jeans out of the landfill; instead, they’re taking scraps from the manufacturer. Post-consumer might get more eco-points, and the insulation is treated with a fire retardant (albeit a “natural” one), but it’s 100% recyclable, VOC-free, and formaldehyde-free. Never mind that it won’t itch like fiberglass insulation. It’s a great way to get some extra LEED points if you’re not in a position to go whole-hog with an unconventional design like a straw-bale structure. Find a distributor here. Via HGTV ::Bonded Logic [by KK]


There are plenty of opportunites to get creative, as well, which might draw out the designer in you:

Check out these design think tanks, such as:


RE-think + RE-cycle
name of design : the metamorphosis of old jeans design by : yao xie from china

Or you can do the DIY method, and reference any number of the

Twenty-five Things to Do With Old Jeans

        by Myscha Theriaulton 24 September 2007


20+ Crafty Things To Make With Old Jeans, http://tipnut.com/things-to-do-with-old-jeans/

Extensions on Recycling- “Re-Use” ing

Richardson Four Seasons Farmers Market

Another nice reason to frequent our local farmer’s market ( http://www.fourseasonsmarkets.com/ ) right here is Richardson is that one has the opportunity to “double dip” on the sustainability issue, working with vendors who allow their customer to return the packaging used to the point of purchase for an added discount.

I found two suppliers who offerred this program as an incentive, and I am sure there are probably more:

Cita’s Salsa
DALLAS, TX-75214

Mimi’s Bees
Highland Park, TX-75219
Category: Honey – Soaps/Candles

(don’t worry- she doesn’t actually bring the bees with her to the market- just the products)

Mimi with honey bees

I makes me feel better that not all things need to be “disposed of”- that we can “re-purpose” too!


Hazardous Waste

Hazardous Waste

Where I live, in Richardson, Texas, they make it extremely easy for residents to participate in recycling.  They offer mixed use recycling (no sorting!), and residents use “blue bags” for recycling item pick up once a week, which the city then takes to a local Materials Recovery Facility for processesing.

The city also offers document shredding and electronics recycling for an additional fee, and sponsors community clean up events.

Accepted Materials in the City of Richardson’s Recycle Program

The items below can all be placed in the blue bags:
Plastics #1-7 (excluding Styrofoam), Aluminum, Tin, Steel, Empty Aerosol Cans, Newspapers, Mixed Paper, Paper Grocery Bags, Magazines, Catalogs, Corrugated Cardboard, Paperboard/Chipboard, Phone Books, Junk Mail, Glass Containers (All Color Glass)

Hazardous Waste Disposal

This is one area which I am sad to say I fall short by my lack of follow through.  The City of Richardson advises some clear warnings about hazardous waste disposal, but when it comes to batteries and old light bulbs, I have been negligent in applying the same standards I have as other sustainability initiatives. One might say that this is definitely my “growth opportunity”.

The City of Richardson advises the following information regarding household hazardous waste:


Always read labels and follow directions carefully. If you can’t use a product up, try to find a neighbor, friend, or community organization who can.

Between collection events or trips to the recycle center, keep all hazardous products in original containers with lids fastened securely. Do not mix, combine, or consolidate them.

Never throw hazardous products away with your regular trash. Motor oil, brake and transmission fluid, antifreeze, and car batteries can be recycled at most auto service facilities or auto parts stores.

Use latex paints instead of oil-based paints. Look for products that say: Environmentally safe, Biodegradable, Contains no phosphorus, Non-toxic, Non-corrosive.

Buy only what is needed to do the job. Avoid over- purchasing with the thought it can be used later.

Household chemicals, fluorescent light bulbs, and batteries should be taken the the Home Chemical Collection Center.

You can find our more at: http://www.cor.net/index.aspx?page=1118



Early Experiences



Fast forward to my college years, when I moved to New York City to study fashion design.    Early on, the “criticalness” with which such a policy was carried out depended on where you lived: some apartments required you to separate your trash and recycling materials (for example: waste vs. glass vs. newspapers, all in separate bags)  or face a fine, others allowed mixed material recycling (glass, plastic, cans, papers), while other places had not policy at all- it was up to the tenant to haul off their recyclables to a recycling station if that was what they wanted to pursue. One might gauge from this varied behavior it was a “testing” of recycling policies to see which version would be most effective. Sad to say, but as a college student in the dorms, it was the incentive of possibly receiving a fine which motivated me to “get with the program.”