13 Products Made Using Recycled Materials

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One man's trash is another man's line of eco-friendly stuff. These companies went green by using recycled materials to make these products, which are functional, stylish, and Earth-friendly. 

1. Keen’s Harvest Wallet and Bags

Keen makes the bags, totes, and wallets that comprise its Harvest Collections out of pre-consumer automobile side airbags. The leftover, excess, or obsolete airbags are shipped from the manufacturers to a recycler in Salt Lake City, where they’re sorted before being shipped to a facility in Chico, California. There, the bags are cut into bag pattern pieces either by hand (using a rotary knife) or with a die-cut machine. Crafters sew the product together; when completed, each item is hand numbered and signed by the person who made it.

2. Looptworks Leather iPad Covers

Looptworks is no stranger to using recycled materials—they’ve previously crafted items from neoprene wetsuit fabric, cotton jersey, Italian wool, hemp, nylon, vinyl, and recycled polyester—but these upcycled iPad cases are their first foray into leather. The cases are made from scraps of excess shoe leather eliminated because it had natural blemishes. This discarded material can amount to 4500 pounds per day from just one factory.

3. Cardboard fm Radio

This radio, made mostly from recycled cardboard, can also be recycled at the end of its life. It’s powered by four AAA batteries and catches FM signals with its antenna, but you can plug your iPod in to listen to your own music, too. Get one over in the mental_floss store.

4. Moving Comfort Activewear

The grounds used to create your daily jolt of caffeine have to end up somewhere—namely, a landfill. Many pieces in Moving Comfort’s activewear line incorporate a fabric called S. Cafe, which uses a patented process to remove the phenol, ester and oil from coffee grounds and turn them into yarn. That yarn is incorporated into a fabric that, thanks to the coffee, is naturally odor repellant, protects from UV rays, and dries quickly.

5. Skateback iPhone back

Each week, skateboard factories create enough waste to fill a city bus—so Grove and Maple xo collaborated to make these iPhone backs out of the discarded post-industrial skateboard material. The backs are each milled and finished by hand, so no two are alike; they attach to the back of the phone with a 3M adhesive.

6. Wonderful Wizard of Oz iPad Cover

Put the “book” back into ebooks with this awesome iPad cover, which looks just like the first edition of Frank L. Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, available in the mental_floss store. We’ve also got The Great Gatsby and Pride and Prejudice; all of the covers are made of 30 percent recycled materials.

7. Dakine Men’s Surf Pack

One need only look at the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to realize that a lot of the plastic we use ends up in the ocean—so it’s cool that this wet/dry surf bag (which has a waterproof wetsuit pocket) is made with 100 percent recycled PET fabric from plastic bottles. (Dakine has other packs, duffle bags, totes, iPad bags, and carry ons made from the material, too, for both men and women.) The company also doesn’t use PVC coating—an environmental toxin—on its products, so they’re ultra-Earth friendly.

8. Record Bowls

Vinylux finds new use for old vinyl records by turning them into functional bowls. Most of the records the company recycles are "scratched, warped, or otherwise played-out," so there's no need to feel bad. The bowls are molded into shape over custom-made forms, the label is laminated, and the spindle hole is sealed with clear tape. (If you find bowls boring, the company also makes clocks, ornaments, sketchbooks, bookends, and mirrors.) No part of the record is wasted; the paper is collected and recycled, and the vinyl scraps are sent to a plant in Nashville, where they're recycled and turned into brand new records. 

9. Baseball Bat Bottle Openers

Sure, they’re expensive—but these bottle openers, made from bats swung by the Major Leaguers, are almost as cool as tickets to a game (and cheaper, when you factor in stadium prices for a hot dog and beer). Each opener has a number, which can be plugged into a database to find out which game the bat was played in.

10. Pi Kitchen Towels

These Pi towels, available in the mental_floss store, are made from cotton flour sacks and eco-friendly ink.

11. Coal Headware Cottonwood Beanie

Coal Headwear’s Cottonwood Beanie is made of cotton yarn, which is repurposed from clippings and scraps made during manufacturing. The color is already in the scraps, so less dyes and chemicals are used in the process of repurposing the materials into new yarn.

12. ReCycle Bikes

These bikes are handmade in Portland, Oregon, from recycled aluminum. The seats are made of renewable cork, and they use belts instead of chains because belts require less maintenance. Though it's not quite there yet, the company hopes to one day have the bikes made of entirely recycled materials.

13. Green Toys

These super cute, kind of retro toys are made out of recycled plastic milk jugs. Even their packaging is 100 percent recycled (and recyclable)—and, as a bonus, doesn't have any of those twist ties that make regular kids' toys such a pain to open.

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April 22, 2013 - 3:00pm
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