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Do Current Trends Mean that Recycling Is In Danger?

The Earth Company

Even many avid supporters of recycling have certainly noticed some disturbing trends that have taken shape in recent years. After decades of progress in the quest to eliminate as much waste as possible from our landfills and make better use of limited resources, various market factors seem to be in danger of upsetting the march toward a more sustainable existence for mankind. That has led many to conclude that the future of recycling is far drearier than most people expected it to be. But is that true; is the recycling movement in any real danger?


To answer that question with any degree of reasonable certainty, it’s important to first understand the societal factors that have many questioning the future viability of large-scale recycling. Her are just a few of the most pressing issues we all now face as different segments of society begin to question the feasibility of expanding our recycling efforts:

  • Costs are rising. Many area governments and their citizens are paying higher rates to recycle goods than they can presently bear, making the landfill option more attractive from an economic point of view.

  • Recycled commodity values are presently too low to justify processing costs in many areas. That often results in a failure to properly collect and sort the types of materials that can be recycled, leading to contamination. That contamination causes those materials to end up being discarded.

  • There is still a surprising lack of education about the proper way to recycle, which leads consumers to unknowingly create exactly the kind of cross-material contamination that renders those recycled materials unsuitable for use.

In short, the two main threats to the recycling effort at this point in time are two of the same obstacles the movement faced in its early days. As a community, our recycling efforts are tied directly to the market. That is largely due to the lack of political will that would be necessary to undertake the sort of national or international government-led effort that many believe to be necessary. So, is there a way to avoid a collapse of the recycling industry and ensure that we continue on our path to sustainable living?


We believe there is. The common theme running through all three of those problems listed above all revolve around one key issue: not enough of us recycle properly, and that raises processing costs and reduces the economic incentive needed to expand the recycling effort. The answer to our common dilemma has to be focused on increased education about the problem and greater efforts to teach people how to recycle in a way that reduces costs.


These current trends may be troubling, but no one should assume that they are an unavoidable impediment to making further progress in our recycling efforts. With a concerted campaign to educate more people about the proper way to recycle, we can reduce the contamination that is adversely impacting processing costs and increase the financial incentive that motivates communities to choose recycling over landfills. The end results will be well worth the effort!


Recycling and the Environment

It is a wonderful world in which we live these days – a higher importance on not just living but living well. Living well used to mean living in luxury and wealth, but it has been redefined in recent years as to living with integrity and with mindfulness of the world in which we live. The importance of recycling and being mindful of where our materials come from has become elevated to more than just the battle cry for a few but is now the collective mindset of the many. Reusing and recycling is truly the key to living well.

Recycling and mindful reusing of our materials is a way to honor our home and be more conscious members of the Earth. We all know the doom and gloom reasons why recycling is important, we have been hearing it preached for nearly four decades, however we are starting to embrace the wonderful parts of recycling. Recycling and reusing materials isn’t a punishment. Recycling and reusing is an opportunity. It is a privilege. It allows us to have a more intimate and deeper connection with the products we buy and the services we order. Having an appreciation for where our items came from and what can be done with them when we’re finished with them allows us the opportunity to be more connected with our physical surroundings.

At The Earth Company, we embrace recycling as the wonderful opportunity to have a more meaningful connection with the materials and possessions that we share our lives with.

Our Recycling Process

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average person throws away 70 pounds of clothing per year. The end result of that staggering number is an additional 3.8 billion pounds of added waste in landfills. Waste that could otherwise be used to create new, high quality, and sustainable items through recycling. Textiles currently account for more than 5% of the waste in landfills, and all of those textiles can be recycled and refashioned into new high quality wares.

The act of reprocessing textiles into fibers allows new products to be created such as paper, clothing, furniture, and yarn. It can also be processed into building materials such as insulation and carpet padding. Our company, for example, uses these materials to create premium and handmade goods such as hammocks, shirts, poufs, and pillows. The sky is the limit with these wonderful materials.

So, how do we do it? Textiles generally consist of biodegradable materials and are sorted by color when they arrive at the facility. The color sorting allows us to limit the energy expended by re-dying the materials, allowing the process to be as green as possible. The textiles are shredded, cleaned, and then separated into different purposes, where they will be strung into yarn, pressed into filler for car seats or mattresses, or insulation.

We are doing our part to keep 3.8 billion pounds of added material out of our landfills by creating high quality, premium, and sustainable goods out of them. Recycling has never looked so good.