A Material Girl Goes Green

Before You Recycle

Episode Summary

We've talked about recycling basics, this week we talk about what do to before you recycle. Remember...the three R's - REDUCE, REUSE, then RECYCLE!

Episode Transcription

Lesley (00:40):

Good afternoon. How are you?

Jodi (00:42):

Great. How are you doing?

Lesley (00:43):

Good. I'm doing awesome. Glad to be back doing some of our, our podcast things. So last week we talked about recycling. You answered all of my questions about the very specific items that I had been tracking on, in my own household when I was going to recycle and wasn't sure what to do with it. I started to list them. So you were gracious enough to answer all my wonderful questions, about those things. I want to push back out to everybody listening that if you have any questions, make sure you go to our Instagram page at a material girl goes green and ask them, send us a message and if there's anything in particular we'll make sure I won't make sure Jodi, will make sure that she answers any of those questions that you might have. We also posted a super helpful tip sheet on Instagram that kind of summarizes the different items that we talked about and what, what Jodi told us we would be best to do with those, with those items. You also reminded us last week, Jodi, that there's a lot of things that we can do before we recycle. So as you know, in my past that was kind of, I was doing really good if I recycled, and thinking about what we could do before that had never occurred to me. But that's so true. I mean, that really is kind of the beginning of the battle right way before recycling. What are some of those things that we can do? So let's talk about some of those today and where, so thinking through that I'm done with something, I've purchased it before, I buy it. What are some of the things that I should be thinking about?

Jodi (02:31):

Right? Um, many of us learn the three RS in school, reduce, reuse, recycle. Um, it really should be in that order. Um, so that's, um, that's what we want to stress is that you should try to reduce the amount of material products you use to reduce the amount of trash that you're producing. Um, trash and waste. I are referred to sort of interchangeably. I also include that with recycling. And even though is better than throwing something into the landfill, it still requires a lot of handling, a lot of energy, a lot of inputs into that process. So when I refer to someone's waste stream, recycling is included in there. But ideally you should reduce the amount of waste you're producing in the first place.

Lesley (03:19):

Okay. About reducing and some of the ways that we can do that. The first thing that comes to my mind is of course, very near and dear to my heart, which is thrifting, right? You're reducing those purchases because you're purchasing something that's already been used by someone else, right?

Jodi (03:42):

So thrifting is great. Buying used items is a great way to reduce your environmental footprint. So not only is the person who had originally belonged to reducing their environmental footprint, by not throwing something into the landfill, you're now giving it a longer life and continuing the lifespan of that item. So, you're contributing in that way too. So it's a really great way.

Lesley (04:06):

Sure. Absolutely. Well, and again, I'm an antique, a holic as anyone knows from my candles. That is, that's always been my life. I like vintage things and those types of things way better than the new stuff. The new has always felt so, so much cheaper to me, where if I can go find something that is, I don't know, it just feels like it's higher quality to me.

Jodi (04:30):

It usually is. Yeah. It usually is to.

Lesley (04:33):

the antiquing and doing some of that. Vintage shopping is another way too. So if it's it, whether it's at a thrift store or an antique store or a vintage flea market, if you can find something that you need in your life, whether it's, you know, home decor, there's, I mean they have everything and styles too, right? So with the, with the fashion, right, your slow fashion, I think they call it, that's, you can find any style in a thrift store because it all comes back again.

Jodi (05:13):

We have so many options now to the slow fashion. Kinder refers to just those things you were mentioning. Quality made products. So those might be a new product, but it's something you're investing in that's well made. So it's going to be perhaps a little more expensive, but it's going to last longer. It's going to be able to be repaired. And if it's something you don't want any longer, it will be something that will still be in good shape for someone else to use down the line. So there's that aspect of things. And then, um, we have so many options now. So, you know, some people may not be a thrift store shopper or they might be an online shopper. We have options like thread up now as an online store, you can purchase secondhand goods that are in great shape. Poshmark is another one. They sell used items, and that's sometimes the more high end items. So w you know, for the people who are very fashion conscious, you can find some really good deals on, on very nice name brands.

Lesley (06:16):

Don't they send you like a, like a number of quantity of items. You can pick five items or 10 items and then if you keep what you want and you can send back to them, is that one of those, so it's not, no, it's not. You just buy whatever you want. Oh yeah. You just pick through and just buy whatever you want and you can see, you know, you can just do your online shopping like you normally would do.

Lesley (06:39):

Awesome. That's very cool. So you talked about, um, just just now we were talking about quality of items. So with the reduce thing, let's, can we step back one step and talk a little bit about that whole purchasing really high quality items from conscientious brands, right? Conscientious, um, companies who are looking and being conscious of eco-friendly the products that they're doing, the suppliers that they're getting things from. How does that fit into the low waste cycle?

Jodi (07:25):

Yeah, so, um, one thing you can do is do a little research on her brand. There are some that stand out. Um, but um, there are some that, you know, might advertise themselves as green and you're not sure. So you want to take a look. Um, you know, just Google the name and Google reviews. Um, there are some third party sites that also review environmental claims on companies too. So you can check on that. You want to think about upstream. So before even the company that you're considering buying something from, got the materials, where did they get the materials that they're using to make the products? So what are the upstream sources? What are the materials it's made out of? And then downstream you want to consider when you're done with this item, what's going to happen to it from there? Is it something that necessarily goes to landfill? Is it something recyclable? Is it something reusable or able to be repurposed in a different way? So, if you can think all the way up to the source and on all the way down to the end of the life of the product, try to think of that entire life cycle. That's, yeah.

Lesley (08:34):

Well, and natural fibers like the wools and the cottons and some of those seem like they would be preferable over some of the like polyesters or the fabrics that aren't necessarily as compostable or they're not going to degrade quite the same.

Jodi (08:53):

There's so much that goes those decisions. And, some companies are making items out of recycled plastic. So if you, you know, if you want to contribute to, um, the recycling stream brand, right,

Lesley (09:09):

if you start researching some of the brands, you'll know if they're using that.

Jodi (09:12):

And so you can make fleece and things like that out of recycle water bottles and stuff like that, which is really cool. Um, and then you have to consider microfibers. So when you wash it, are those fibers going down the drain? Um, that's something that people are really just learning more about right now.

Lesley (09:29):

I've seen those bags. I've seen bags now that you can put the items in that you're afraid might do some of the microplastic and they'll keep it in.

Jodi (09:37):

Okay. Yeah, I've seen a couple of different products you can use with your washing machine that, that can minimize that. But yeah, your, your synthetic fibers are going to shed and then those tiny little microfibers are gonna make their way in the waterway. So in one, in some ways you may want to contribute to the recycling economy and then in some ways it might be something to think twice about. So I'm not here to tell you exactly what the right answer is, but things to consider. So then you have your natural fibers. Organic cotton is extremely energy intensive to grow. So, it takes a lot of water. So that's something to think about. There are cotton certifications, third parties out there where people are learning to grow it a little more sustainably now. And then, um, there are, you know, like your hemp and your bamboo and some of your other fibers that are coming out now that are very sustainable. It's a crop that grows quickly and isn't very polluting. So, those are good options. Um, and then you want to think about the end life. So, you hopefully you'll have years and years of wear out of something better.

Lesley (10:58):

So you better like it buy clothes you like.

Jodi (11:00):

Yeah. Think about styles that might last. Um, think about, um, longevity and then eventually you hope something will turn back into the earth, so to speak. So, um, yeah, your natural fibers will do that. Um, and as of now, some of this, the synthetics, there are just no way to break those down and they will, they'll just become smaller and smaller pieces forever,

Lesley (11:32):

Which is some of that microplastic right. Issues that were, that we're seeing now, right in the water and in the fish and in some of those, some of those areas for sure. Um, and the shop's smart thing, we've talked a lot about fashion, but that goes like with everything, furniture, appliance. I mean, you think about all of the pieces that there's always that really cheap version and then that little bit more expensive version. But you know, if I'm gonna spend a little bit more money on a couch and it needs to, you know, have some leather replaced, I spent money, so I'm going to go replace that versus just disposing of it or even giving it to someone else. So being really conscious of, I want to maybe spend a little bit more like you talked about with the, you know, before, because I love it and I'm going to invest in it and if it needs fixed, I'm going to fix it.

Jodi (12:26):

Right. The money to do that. Yeah. And it definitely, not everyone's able to, to spend a lot of money. So think about your budget, think about what you're able to do and factor in into that decision. The longevity of, of the piece. So, for example, if you're buying furniture, you might be able to get a higher quality piece that's used.

Lesley (12:46):

right at the thrift store or something.

Jodi (12:47):

at the thrift store or online. Um, the Facebook marketplace or Craigslist, any of those are great for furniture. Um, yeah. So think about how much you can spend and then, and then think about it will last longer and be a better value for however much more you're able to put into it. Right?

Lesley (13:08):

Yeah, there's amazing, I've seen amazing furniture at some of the different thrift stores and maybe it needs a, I'm a DIY girl, so if it needs to be recovered, I've recovered several different chairs and, you know, just made on my own that way. Painted them and they turned out really cool. So yeah, a lot of options when.

Jodi (13:26):

we have services, you know, we have like the recovery room here in Fort Wayne that can do that too. And um, it's, it's just going to be a better piece if you, if you,

Lesley (13:33):

and it's yours. Yeah. Right. Then you've made it, you put your stamp on it, so it's yours for sure. Um, so can we move on to one of the things that I'm, well before we do that, let's talk about, you said reduce and then reuse [inaudible]. What would, how would you define the reuse part of it? R.

Jodi (14:01):

Reuse is a pretty broad category, so there's a lot of cool stuff you can do in the realm of reusing things. You can, um, donate to someone else to use it for the same purpose. You can, um, buy something drifted to use, you know, for the same purpose, but you can also get creative. You can, um, make something new out of parts of something else. Um,

Lesley (14:24):

I'm the queen of that. I love all sweaters and I made dolls out of them and dog coats out of them and all different kinds of very cool.

Jodi (14:31):

Yeah. So getting crafty, um, you can also repair items. I consider that a way of reusing it. So, um, things you might not consider fixing. We were just so conditioned to just kinda throwing stuff away really are. I have a, um, a soda stream at home that I use to make.

Lesley (14:51):

That's one of my next purchases. I excited about that.

Jodi (14:54):

Yeah. So it's great. It saves, it reduces the amount of cans and bottles and things that you're buying. Um, and I love fizzy water with just a little lemon in it or something like that. So, um, I sewed a stream, stopped working. Yeah. Yeah. And, um, and they, I asked online, you know, it just put the call out, does anybody know how to fix this thing? And I got a couple of ideas that way, but a lot of people said, well, just get a new one and, and I'm thinking, no way. I'm gonna fix this thing.

Lesley (15:26):

Sure. Well, for all the reasons that you bought it in the first place,

Jodi (15:28):

right. So you actually doing all your disposable plastics. Yeah. So, um, small appliances are often kinda cheap these days. Um, and if you take it apart, you're not going to hurt anything. Just try it. Just see what you can do. We also have some cool options to, to get it fixed. Uh, yeah. I D I gave it to my dad. Oh, there you go. Yeah. That's a good option. Yeah. That's awesome, dad. Got it fixed. Um, so, uh, some cool options we have around here. We have, um, some locations where you can actually reduce your consumption of, of buying new things in many ways. So you can, there are two places, one's called tech venture and one is called the build Guild. In Fort Wayne, you can borrow tools, you can borrow space, you can borrow expertise and you can bring in something and, and try to fix it. You don't have to buy your own tools or all fancy equipment or anything like that. So you are reducing in so many ways.

Lesley (16:30):

That's awesome. That's awesome. And reusing the item by fixing it. And I think they're, the options, the tools that they have is, are really broad. Yeah. Like everything, electrical things, welding and all that stuff down to the carpentry type of equipment. I can take out a lot. I do have different options.

Jodi (16:48):

I've really been to options and people to help. That's awesome. That's awesome.

Lesley (16:52):

Um, so reduce, reuse and then recycle. Yes. Right. So, of course there's a lot of more, there's lots more Re's than I that I've studied. One of the things that I've looked at is, um, refill some of the refill options on, which is kind of where I've put the soda stream, kind of. It's more of a personalized refill, versus some of the options on storing things in glass containers and not continuing to get the plastics and throwing them out. Um, so refills, I've not done it yet. I will. I will do it. I've got, I've started just to get my little supply so I'm ready to go. But who, like where are some of the places that we can find refill options and what can you refill? Like what kind of items can you, or products I guess, can you refill.

Jodi (17:51):

yeah, we're getting more and more options for that. Um, you can go to any of the sort of natural food stores through rivers co-op, the health, food shop, earth fair. Um, a lot of those have some refill options. So you can do things like, um, liquid soap, peanut butter, honey, soy sauce, things like that. Do they do flour. I've seen some dry bins, but I know I've looked at things like that. Dry flower, dry beans. Yeah, yup. In your and rice and greens and things like that. Yep.

Lesley (18:25):

So we'll have to do a field trip to one of those places. We should list all of the options that we have.

Jodi (18:30):

Definitely. And one little trick when you're doing stuff like that, remember to weigh your container first. Put a little piece of tape on there and write the weight so that you can subtract that from the final price.

Lesley (18:41):

Okay, good. So that's the package of the tare. Perfect. Awesome. Um, it's interesting what I've, as I'm stepping into this, one of the things that it's like there's always a swap for everything. So anything that you're trying to reduce or change the way that you personally are handling that product, that you have the least amount of waste that you can do. Right. Cause we talked last a couple of weeks ago about, you know, zero waste is a big deal. That's a, that's a big deal. So moving from where you are today to where, you know, just eliminating that waste a little bit at a time. What's one item you can re change the use the way that you use it one at a time and that whole, I've kind of started thinking of it as an eco swap, right? So if it's something that is, I can see myself wasting a lot of it. What can I find? And it's kind of a little treasure hunt. Like what can I go find that will be environmentally friendly or right. Friendlier, and then I can just see myself continuing one item or one decision at a time to become, to become better and better and better at doing it. Yeah. Thinking you're going to start all of it in one day is, that's where I think I got intimidated. It's like, Oh my gosh, I know I need to change and I need to do all of these things and all of this stuff I'm doing wrong and what am I going to do? But just starting to make those decisions and find those products that I can stop using the one that I know I shouldn't be using cause it's so wasteful and swapping it out with something that is a lot more waste Free waste, less less waste.

Lesley (20:38):

Yeah. That's why we call it the road to zero waste.

Jodi (20:41):

Right? You're always on the road. You're always moving along that road. There is no end point. You can always learn more and do a little more. You don't have to do it all at once. And the other thing I've found too, um, if you start delving into the zero waste, um, Instagram se and blogs and things like that, they're all beautifully photographed and it looks perfect and pristine and minimalistic. Um, don't hold yourself to the right standard. Be not quite so realistic. It's, yeah, don't hold yourself to those perfect standards. Just do what you can. Um, I think we're, we'll talk a little bit later about taking like a personal inventory of the things that you use the most. Check your trashcan. What are you throwing away? What are you recycling a lot of, where can you make changes? Um, and then the other thing too is don't worry about buying the newest, coolest zero waste gadget. You should always start with what you might already have that can serve that purpose. Chances are you probably have something laying around. You don't need to buy.

Lesley (21:46):

the prettiest polka daddy, his store, the flowery, his store, the, yeah,

Jodi (21:53):

the most perfect bamboo brush or whatever. So, um, you usually will have something around that you can use.

Lesley (22:00):

And one thing that you've talked about that I love that I haven't really heard a lot of people talk about but is the sharing community. Like how with friends or family or whatever, there's things that I don't necessarily, maybe I outgrew it, but I have a friend who is just that size now. So thinking about that too,

Jodi (22:21):

or a friend of a friend, there are great online communities now. There are buy nothing groups. Um, there's a Fort Wayne, um, free or cheap group. There's um, there's a Fort Wayne zero-waste group on Facebook. There's so many now ways to connect with people who can use what you have and vice versa. Awesome. And we really are trying to work to remove any sort of stigma against that because there really shouldn't be at all. Some people are reluctant to put themselves out there in that way and, and you know, it's one way to use the online communities to actually connect in real life and form a real community. So they're all people who care about the same things and not wasting stuff. Right. I mean, that's just a great core value to have.

Lesley (23:14):

Absolutely. Absolutely. Like you said, it feels like it's becoming much more on trend to think that way, um, than it is to, to throw things. So we'll start to see society just become more and more aware of those things. So little long today. But we got great information. Thank you so much Jody, for all of the wonderful information that you, that you gave us and shared with us today. Remember to check us out on Instagram we will have a, um, tip sheet, everything that we talked about. We'll have it in a graphic. So if you need reminder, I need reminders. Like I stick sticky notes everywhere, everywhere. So if you need reminders, we can do a graphic sheet that you can remember quickly what we talked about today, so we will see you next week. All right. Thank you.