It seems like recycling has become a trend. If you don’t recycle or don’t own any stuff that was made from recycled (upcycled) waste, you’re totally out. But are you really?

Recycling and using waste to create something else of a greater value (upcycling) is on the rise. So much that the internet is now full of stuff that is made from recycled PET bottles, ocean plastics, old flip flops or toys. Call it upcycling, eco-friendly, sustainable, whatever. Designers in design schools all over the world choose recycled materials for their final works. It seems that waste is the new black.
I heard an interesting opinion about this recently – and I hope the person who said it won’t mind if I share it with you. Can it be that using waste for production of something new is not done for sustainability purposes, but for marketing?
Like it’s become a trend with all the scary news about microplastics in our food and animals choking on plastics, climate change and everything. People don’t want to be ignorant, so they buy everything labeled as “eco-friendly”, “sustainable material” and “upcycled”, so that they make up for the amount of waste that they create every day. As if buying a chair from recycled flip flops was a redemption for all their wasteful actions. As if production of such chair alone was environmental footprint free.
And it’s not just a matter of design furniture, interior accessories or bizarre objects. Go to a regular supermarket and you will surely see plenty of examples of  this “green” marketing.
“No more plastic bags!”, “We care about the planet – buy our paper bag.” “Say no to plastic, say yes to cotton!” As plastic is now seen as the public enemy number one, the supermarkets want to get on the wave and show that they care about the environment, too. So they encourage people to use paper or cotton bags instead. Now, I’m not saying that I’m in favour of the plastics, but it’s not as simple as that! That paper is simply better than plastic. Do you know what are the environmental costs of wood extraction and paper production? Do you know that producing cotton in large-scale has a significant bad impact on the landscape? So yes – cotton or paper might be better, but only when they are used many, many times. If you take a paper bag instead of the plastic one and you throw it away right after you take your groceries out, you just harmed the planet more than if you would take the plastic one.
Another opinion that I will borrow (and hope that this person won’t mind either) is about the word “fully recyclable.” You see it quite often nowadays – “this bag is fully recyclable, this container is fully recyclable, this bottle is fully recyclable.” And so?! That doesn’t mean ANYTHING unless the thing is thrown in the yellow garbage bin and gets actually recycled. And yet people buy it because, once again, it makes them feel good. It makes them feel like they did something for the planet.
But they didn’t.

I think this happens because people are lazy and don’t want to know more about the whole problem. Or maybe they know, deep inside, that if they knew the details, it would require some actions from them, which they don’t want to. People don’t want to do anything more than they are already doing. They don’t want to lose their comfort. And so they tend to think that buying something with the label “eco-friendly” or “sustainable” is enough.

My message to you is simple. Not everything that seems green is actually green. Don’t let the marketers fool you – use your brain. And focus on not creating waste.

3 thoughts on “Eco-bullshitting? 

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