Completing the Cycle: Goods Made from Recycled Materials

The environmental movement has succeeded in a big way over the past three decades, making recycling an almost universal practice in the United States. Even so, consumer purchase of goods manufactured from recycled materials, while growing, has lagged behind.Most newspapers sold in the U.S. today contain only a small percentage, if any, recycled content, and while paper manufacturers like Great White produce copy paper with a large recycled content, most consumers continue to buy paper goods made from forested wood materials rather than opting for recycled content.There are some manufacturers, however, who are making significant progress in using recycled materials is a soft, pliant, color-fast material made entirely from recycled plastic soda bottles, and has been fashioned into a wide variety of goods including shopping bags, tote bags, winter parkas, and even pet beds.Aluminum and steel are being recycled into park benches; meanwhile individuals committed to recycling are taking the issue into their own hands and building homes with materials scavenged from old barns and houses.Recycling may be about to take another leap forward into the consciousness of the American public. With gas prices spiking once again, people are beginning to discuss energy independence and alternative fuels, including ethanol and biodiesel. Both have the option of being manufactured from discarded matter – ethanol, from wheat chaff and other cellulose-based material, and biodiesel from used cooking oil – McDiesel, so to speak!Who knows? With the political and environmental issues bringing alternative fuels to the forefront, it may spark another, wide discussion, and the general public may end up more interesting in completing the cycle by buying recycled consumer goods.