Archive for the ‘Recycling’ Category

Service of Refills: Do Consumers Have the Time & Money?

Monday, January 28th, 2019


I found fault with the hullabaloo over the so called huge benefits to the environment when businesses announced they were banning  plastic straws in the post “Service of the Last Straw,”—literally too little in the plastic litter wars.

I perked up reading Saabira Chaudhuri’s article “The World’s Biggest Brands Want You to Refill Your Orange Juice and Deodorant–P&G, Nestlé and others try to curb plastic waste; Tropicana in glass bottles, Tide in metal cans.”

Chaudhuri reported: “Refillables once dominated industries such as beer and soft drinks but lost out to convenient, affordable single-use containers. In 1947, refillables made up 100% of soft-drink containers by volume and 86% of beer containers, according to the Container Recycling Institute, a nonprofit. By 1998 those figures dropped to 0.4% and 3.3%, respectively.”

She added that the refill business exists but is niche, done by some grocery stores and entrepreneurs largely

Statewide Refillable Bottles Photo:

in shampoo and detergent businesses.

The trial will include PepsiCo’s Tropicana OJ in a glass bottle and Quaker Chocolate Cruesli cereal in stainless steel. Some of P&G’s 10 participating brands include Pantene shampoo in aluminum and Tide in stainless-steel.

In addition, Chaudhuri wrote: “Shoppers who the companies select for the trial will be able to order hundreds of products—including Nestlé’s Häagen-Dazs ice cream and Clorox Co.’s wet wipes—from a website for home delivery. Products arrive in a reusable tote with no extra packaging. Once finished, users schedule a pickup for empty containers to be cleaned and refilled. They can sign up for a subscription-based service that replenishes products once empty containers are returned. TerraCycle will handle delivery, returns and cleaning.


“The products will cost roughly the same as the versions in single-use containers, but users will also have to pay a deposit of $1-$10 per container. Shipping charges start at roughly $20, decreasing with every item added.

“Susan Collins, head of the Container Recycling Institute, said high deposit fees could be a barrier to entry for many consumers. ‘It sounds like it’s only meant to attract the most green, virtuous shoppers,’ she said.

I’d add that customers who look for sales are also out of the loop.

“TerraCycle hopes to bring big retailers on board so that customers eventually buy and return most of the products in store or online via retailers, lowering the project’s costs and expanding its reach,” Chaudhuri concluded.

If shoppers don’t have a doorman or house staff or if they aren’t retired, who will accept the packages and what about ice cream sales shipped in summer? Will the shipping and container costs impact the success of these initiatives? Can we go home again, to the middle of last century, when refills in certain product categories were standard? Will a sufficient number of customers, spoiled by taking three seconds to toss out a bottle or container, make the time to wash out each container and prepare the package to ship it back?


Service of Salvaged & Recycled Material in Art & Craft

Thursday, December 5th, 2013


Nancy Kubale's "Traveler II," incorporates recycled barn wood

Nancy Kubale’s “Traveler II,” incorporates recycled barn wood

My client’s American Fine Craft Show Brooklyn, December 14-15, at the landmark Brooklyn Museum Beaux-Arts Court, exemplifies the importance of found or recycled materials in art and craft by some of the country’s most talented, creative artists and artisans.

By chance, so does one of the museum’s current exhibitions: “Wangechi Mutu: A Fantastic Journey.” The artist combines found materials, magazine cutouts, sculpture, and painted imagery in her work. Born in Nairobi, Kenya, Mutu’s studio is in Brooklyn now.

Back at the craft show, I’m calling out just four exhibitors of the many I might pick: an artist, sculptor, jeweler and fashion accessories designer. They incorporate salvaged and recycled materials prominently in their creations and are among the 90 artisans and artists who will sell their best the weekend after this one. 

“Zen Garden,” part of the Turntable series by Jinsheng Wang

“Zen Garden,” part of the Turntable series by Jinsheng Wang

Artist/exhibitor Jinsheng Wang writes on his website: “I look at salvaged materials with an open mind. I reformat the sequence or rhythm of things. The old items become new when I take them apart and reassemble them. The purpose and fashion re-energized.” He began working in traditional sculpture, then abstract and today his focus is to transform salvaged materials into art.

Wang, who moved to the US from China 20+ years ago, said hobbies inspire his work. “My art is part of my personal American experience. I became a semi-professional record and music collector and naturally, from my passion, came my Turntable and Bonzai Beebop series. Collecting music also helped me better understand American history and culture. The latter series has a practical use. I restore vintage tube radios making them into amplifiers, adding a speaker so that you can use them to listen to music from an iPod or Walkman.” 

Nancy Kubale's "Friends"

Nancy Kubale’s “Friends”

Found pieces enhance Nancy Kubale’s ceramic sculptures. On her website she describes the many steps she takes to create her ceramic figures that she fires three to five times, previously handbuilding them in stoneware clay and layering the surfaces with glazes, slips and stains. “Often the work is in pieces after the final firing and is then assembled with wood, metal, fiber and found objects,” she wrote. 

Connie Verrusio jewelry

Connie Verrusio jewelry

On her website Connie Verrusio admitted: “I never throw anything away. I’m a pack rat and a flea market junkie. Where others see outmoded technologies and broken machines, I see jewels just waiting for the right setting.” She described how some 20 years ago she discovered Canal Surplus, a tiny NYC store filled with “bins of mechanical detritus.” She’d leave the store with “a small bag of treasures and filthy hands” which “kicked off a jewelry-making career focused around the beauty of utilitarian objects.”  

Look At Me Designs gloves of recycled materials

Look At Me Designs gloves of recycled materials

For her 10-year-old fashion accessories business, Look At Me Designs, Melanie Cohen-Peddle has had one mission: “To create eco-friendly, fashion forward, one of a kind, wearable pieces of art. Every item is handmade from, or embellished with, recycled materials.” This year’s introductions focus on boot accessories from cuffs and cozies to toppers and she also designs hats, tunics, capes, T-shirts and skirts.

These artists are truly inspired by found and recycled materials but aren’t they also making an important statement about the tremendous waste we generate today? Can you share examples of others who identify beauty in salvaged materials? Have you decorated with or worn items incorporating found or recycled materials?

Connie Verrusio Letterpress bracelet

Connie Verrusio Letterpress bracelet

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