Not too long ago, it felt next to impossible to find goods made here in the United States. And while it can still be a difficult task, especially depending on what you’re shopping for, the Made in the USA label has been making a comeback in recent years. That’s great news for both local and national economies alike and U.S. workers of all kinds, as well as for consumers.
For eco-conscious consumers, the revival of Made in the USA products is an extra bit of welcome news because goods made here don’t carry the same environmental impact as those made overseas and then shipped here, wasting precious natural resources and polluting the planet along the way. If you’re looking to go beyond the standard eco-friendly benefits of Made in the USA products, here are four great products that are made in one of our great United States:
- J.R. Watkins Naturals – More than just a singular product, J.R. Watkins Naturals is an entire brand of products that are Made in the USA from all natural ingredients. With Bath and Body, Gourmet, Home and Remedies lines, whether you need to cure a cough, smooth dry hands, season your seafood or clean your kitchen floor, J.R. Watkins has you covered in all-natural, all-American style.
- Green Toys – Start little ones off right with Green Toys, an entire line of toys that are made in California from 100 percent recycled plastic milk jugs. In addition to being eco-friendly, by being free of BPA and phthalates, they’re also safe for kids. Their colorful line of toys includes airplanes, boats, building blocks, dish sets, shape sorters and a number of other fun, imaginative products.
- Reynolds Wrap Recycled Aluminum Foil – From storing leftovers to lining pans for easy clean up and many other essential kitchen tasks, aluminum foil is a staple that cooks of all calibers just can’t do without. Made from a mix of pre- and post-consumer aluminum, the 100 percent recycled foil from Reynolds Wrap even comes in recycled packaging that’s imprinted with water-based inks. Once used, the aluminum foil can even be recycled again through certain recycling programs.
- Maze Nails – Do you have a home improvement project on the horizon? Made in Illinois from 65% post-consumer and 20% pre-consumer recycled steel, Maze Nails is one of the few domestic nail manufacturers and the only one that touts its use of recycled content. Maze Nails is also committed to using recycled paper in its packaging, price lists and product literature.
Tell us, what are some of your favorite green products that are Made in the USA?
It seems just about everything these days has a price tag. When it comes to green technologies and processes, those price tags can sometimes come with a bit of sticker shock, and recycling is no exception.
Recycling’s reputation as a money waster often originates from a misunderstanding about how much people in a given community actually pay for trash pickup and how that service is paid for. On the surface, in some communities, it may appear that citizens are shelling out more for a curbside recycling program than what they’re paying for regular trash pickup, but in actuality, trash pickup costs can sometimes be a bit hidden. Some local governments pay fees to hauling companies or landfills out of tax revenue, therefore lowering the direct cost that is presented to residents and businesses, while especially in the beginning, those same residents and businesses directly pay the full cost of a recycling program.
These differences in billing practices, along with some outdated misconceptions about recycling, have contributed to the perception of recycling as a pricey process. However, studies from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) show that curbside recycling programs can cost $50 to $150 per ton, while trash collection and disposal runs $70 to $200 per ton. In addition, recycling aids in reducing:
Environmental Costs – Waste is a part of almost every manufacturing process, but recycling cuts down on this waste by not starting the process from scratch. For example, mining wastes, processing wastes and emissions are all reduced by recycling aluminum. Recycling also conserves natural resources, reduces pollution and reduces the potential for environmental damage that can come along with both mining and manufacturing.
Depletion Costs – Like many of our precious natural resources, landfills are limited in their abundance. They also are limited in the amount of trash they can accommodate and when one reaches capacity, a new landfill must be built. Due to the higher costs of complying with environmental regulations, purchasing land and constructing the landfill, new landfills are often much costlier than their older counterparts. Recycling helps stretch the life of a landfill, thus postponing the expense of a new landfill.
Energy Costs – While energy savings vary by material, nearly all recycling processes use less energy than manufacturing with virgin materials. The EPA estimates that the recycling of aluminum cans, for example, saves 95 percent of the energy required to make the equivalent amount of aluminum from virgin sources. Continuing with the aluminum example, each pound of recycled aluminum saves the resources required to meet the electric needs of a city the size of Pittsburg for six years.
Looking to be more green? There’s an app for that! Actually, thanks to the overall proliferation of apps in every category, there are a number of apps that can help you be more environmentally aware and eco-friendly at home, at work and on the go. Here are four the CHOICES team likes best:
- iRecycle – When it comes to recycling, aluminum cans, white office paper and glass bottles tend to be fairly run of the mill. You know exactly where and how you can recycle these items. But what about that old car battery or construction waste? Enter iRecycle. With its database of more than 350 different recyclable products and more than 1.5 million recycling locations, this Android and Apple app can help you find exactly where you can recycle just about anything. The app can even tell you if the item in question is accepted by your local curbside recycling program.
- Locavore – Transporting food long distances has gotten bad press in recent years, and for good reason. It consumes valuable natural resources and contributes to pollution. With Locavore, finding local fruit and veggie alternatives to those shipped hundreds, or even thousands, of miles just got a whole lot easier. This free app pinpoints local markets and farms where you can find the fresh produce you’re looking for. You can even share your discoveries on Facebook and find delicious seasonal recipes too.
- EcoChallenge – Going green doesn’t have to be so serious. With EcoChallenge, which you can download for free from the Google Play and iTunes stores, you can have some fun with making sustainable choices. Its eye-catching infographics serve as a source of education on topics ranging from local food to light bulbs and everything in between, and true to its name, EcoChallenge encourages you to take part in various challenges that will help green your lifestyle. And for you competitive types, you can even take on friends to see who has made the most eco-friendly improvements.
- Green Outlet – Think for a moment about all of the things in your home that are plugged in. With so many things in our homes powered by a plug, it’s likely that you will need more than just a moment to think of everything that uses electricity. So what is the cost, to you and to the environment, of all of those electronics? Green Outlet helps you calculate by asking you what appliances and electronics you own and how often you use them, so you can figure out exactly how much that TV and toaster oven is costing you and start reducing your bills and your energy consumption from there.
A New Year is now upon us, which means that, while it may seem like a distant memory, the holiday season was only just a short time ago. For many Americans, electronics are at the top of both shopping lists and wish lists, which means chances are good that you received at least one new electronic item as a holiday gift. So what’s an eco-conscious person to do if your beloved new gifted gadget renders one in your home obsolete and unneeded? Don’t just toss them in the trash or let them linger in a closet collecting dust, recycle those old electronics!
According to a recent United Nations study, e-waste is expected to grow from 2012’s already astounding 48.9 million metric tons to 65.4 million metric tons in 2017. All of that e-waste is toxic to the planet, and the people that inhabit it, because when electronics are burned or sent to a landfill, harmful substances such as mercury, lead and cadmium can leak out.
Recycling or donating old electronics not only helps prevent water and air pollution, it also helps conserve natural resources used in the electronics themselves or in the manufacturing process. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a million recycled cell phones helps recover 35 thousand pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold and 33 pounds of palladium.
Fortunately, recycling electronics isn’t difficult for consumers or businesses. Here are several easy options for getting the recycling job done:
- While electronics recycling where you live may not be as easy as tossing that old TV in a blue bin, in some communities, it is actually just that easy. Check with your local government to see if curbside electronics recycling is available in your area.
- There are a wide variety of nationwide retailers and non-profits that readily accept electronic items for free recycling, including Best Buy, the Salvation Army and Goodwill. Call the location nearest you or visit their website to find out the specifics of which items they will and won’t recycle.
- Look for a free collection event near you. Many municipal or county governments host periodic electronic recycling days where you can drop off a wide variety of electronic goods.
No matter which recycling route you go with your old electronics, remember to remove batteries prior to recycling, as they may need to be recycled separately, and always protect yourself by erasing your personal information from any device.
Lose weight. Get in shape. Save money. Get organized. These are among the most common New Year’s resolutions that people – perhaps even you – make every year, and also among the most common resolutions that are broken by spring.
As you’re planning for the year ahead and what you hope to accomplish, why not include the environment on that list? Vow to be a greener person in 2014 with these three eco-friendly resolutions that you can make – and keep well into 2015.
- Drive less – Even if you don’t live in the most walkable of towns or cities, driving less is still a relatively easy goal to aim for, and one that’s great for the environment too. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that more than half of air pollution comes from vehicles, which means making a change in your driving habits can be a big help to the health of the planet. To cut down on your miles behind the wheel, look into options for carpooling to work. Even sharing a ride a few days a week can make a big difference. If carpooling isn’t an option, try cutting down on your driving by combining all of the little trips you make each week to run errands into one big trip.
- Meatless Mondays – From pollution to global warming, the environmental impacts of the meat industry are significant and continue to increase as global demand rises. In fact, according to the Livestock, Environment and Development Initiative, livestock production already accounts for 18 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. If going entirely meatless in your diet isn’t for you, try removing meat from the menu just one night a week. In addition to helping the environment, it could help you with those health-related New Year’s resolutions too.
- Banish bottled water – Did you know that 1.5 million barrels of oil are used to make plastic water bottles each year? And while those bottles are recyclable, too many still end up in landfills, making bottled water an even bigger burden on the environment. Swap your bottled water for an at-home filtering pitcher and a reusable bottle made of aluminum, glass or recycled plastic. It’s a New Year’s resolution that makes good sense for the environment and your wallet.