Humans haven’t been kind to the planet. Climate change is out of control, and microplastics are poisoning our oceans. But even when we try to reduce our footprint, we still need to wear shoes and clothes and occasionally drive vehicles. So it’s important that we all make eco-friendly choices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow the spread of plastic waste. Luckily, some companies have figured out how to use that waste to make new products.
Here, we’ve highlighted some of our favorite companies and products that are making these decisions a little easier. You can buy these items—from portable chargers to yoga mats—knowing that you’re doing your part. We also have guides on the Best Recycled Bags and Best Recycled Clothing, too.
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It’s not just environmentally smart, though. It’s one of the lightest batteries you’ll find, and it can charge two devices at once with its USB-C and USB-A ports. A fully charged pack can juice up your phone for a week before it needs to be plugged in itself.
A Better Water Bottle
Swapping out single-use plastic for a reusable water bottle is a big step on its own to reduce waste. Whichever bottle you like to drink out of is the one you should go with. But Klean Kanteen also now makes some of its options from 90 percent recycled stainless steel. Even better? You can put them in the dishwasher.
There are a handful of sizes available already, from a small camp mug ($25) to a 64-ounce bottle ($65), and the company says it hopes that 95 percent of its line will be made from recycled steel by 2023. Klean Kanteen is a member of 1% for the Planet and is climate-neutral certified.
Solgaard’s Shoreline collection takes plastic collected from beaches and other waterways to create its material, Shore-Plast. The result is a beautiful, hexagonal 42-millimeter watch face available in six nice colors—I particularly love the Laguna Lilac. The comfortable strap is made from biodegradable silicone. The quartz watch is waterproof down to 165 feet (50 meters), and it comes with a 100-day trial.
For every purchase of its products, Solgaard collects 229 more bottles headed for our oceans and recycles them.
A Warm Wool Blanket
Australian company Seljak makes beautiful blankets out of 100 percent recycled materials—mainly wool and polyester, but the company says 15 percent is other recycled fibers. Even better, each blanket is made from production scraps, so there’s little waste. This is a pricey blanket, and it’s gotten more expensive since we first tried it, but it’s one you can feel good about (while keeping warm).
It’s wool, so the blanket has a little grit to it, but I liked using it as an extra layer in bed. It’s the perfect material for sitting on at the park or under around a campfire. Seljak donates $5 to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in Melbourne, Australia, for every blanket purchase.
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★ Alternative: The Bogo Toothbrush ($9) is also made of recycled plastics and comes with a stand you can stick to a bathroom counter. Its bristles are soft on gums but felt sufficiently firm when cleaning my teeth and tongue.
Surfers need wet suits to conserve body heat in cold water. So it’s unfortunate that those wet suits are made from petroleum-derived products that never break down. Suga—based in Encinitas, California—collects used and damaged wet suits and turns them into dense, comfortable, and attractive yoga mats. As a bonus, the irresistible smell will remind you of the ocean.
Portland Design Works Sodapop Fenders
Bicycle fenders are helpful when you’re pedaling through wet or muddy roads to keep that gunk from splashing off your tires and onto you. These ones are made of 97 percent recycled beverage bottles, and there are options for city bikes and mountain bikes. Plus, it’s a small company that believes in making sustainable choices and is a member of 1% for the Planet.
Bags, Bags, Bags
We’ve tested so many recycled bags that we now have a separate guide with all our favorites. These are just two of the ones we’ve tried.
- United by Blue Convertible Carryall for $118: If you want a shoulder tote sometimes and a backpack other times, this carryall converts easily, thanks to straps hidden in a zippered compartment. Nearly the entire bag is made of recycled materials; the interior and exterior are recycled polyester, and recycled nylon is used for the straps and zipper pulls.
- Freitag F640 Rollin for $260: Freitag has been using recycled truck tarpaulins to make bags since the 1990s. But its Tarp on PET collection combines truck tarps with material spun from PET plastic bottles. Freitag uses recycled plastic yarn for the inner lining and more flexible parts of the bag. That makes the bag much lighter, while the heavy-duty truck tarps add durability where the bag needs it most. The Rollin is its roll-top shoulder bag, which you can take to work, and it expands to carry your weekly groceries on the way home.
Relax Your Back
Bed of Nails Eco Acupressure Mat and Pillow
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They’ll soothe your sore back and neck after a long day of hunching over a laptop. The round “nails” massage the areas of the body typical acupuncture targets, minus the needles. They’re firm, but no, it doesn’t actually feel like you’re lying on nails.
A Simple Handmade Wallet
Portland, Oregon–based Looptworks intercepts excess materials from other industries on their way to the landfill, upcycling them into backpacks, laptop cases, and apparel. Its simple card-sleeve wallet is made from leather that was once destined to become a motorcycle jacket. It has two pockets, is handmade, and is backed by Looptworks’ lifetime guarantee.