Eco-Chic - Recycling Vs Eco

Eco-Chic Jo Alcorn of Whitewash & Co is back giving us some much needed perspective into the world of recycling.

Recycling has been perceived as being part of the green movement, however recyclable materials have their very own category separate from the eco world. I am back with another controversial GREEN term which needs to be addressed. The term recycle means: Recycling is the process of re-using a given product (beyond its intended use), or producing a new product from a recyclable material.

This does not mean you have purchased a product that is healthy or helping the environment, which so many of us have been led to believe. The marketing word “Recycled” on a product is solely in the description of the product, advising part of that product is reused, remade or reshaped to create the piece you are purchasing.


The recycling word is tricky; because yes, you are giving back to the environment in the means that you have prevented something from being thrown into the landfill, however, it does not mean you are not contributing in purchasing a piece containing high VOC’s, chemicals, toxins or if it is FSC approved, and etc. etc. That recycled piece you just brought into your home could be very harmful. It is also argued when breaking down recycled pieces/materials could case more air pollution and create an even larger carbon foot print, even more then it would be to buy brand new. In layman’s terms, it is easier to build a brand new house then it is to gut and rebuild on an existing foundation.

To really simplify what recycled materials means. Your friend who bought a stunning cabinet from over seas, which she had shipped over, no longer requires the piece and places it on the curb, until you come along and grabbed it. Now you didn’t really like the handles so you changed them and also refinished it in a modern colour, added a few details here and there and it is now current, trendy and perfect. You now have a recycled piece! Or what most of us used to call it before marketers were involved, was a hand me down or is even sometime called a vintage piece. Why because if you relate back to the meaning, the piece was either going to be thrown out, burnt or destroyed but you have saved it from all the above and are now re-using it within your home which has prolong the life span and functionality of the doomed furniture piece. (That’s it in a nut shell, of course there are more complicated definitions and processes to recycled materials)

Don’t let this label fool you, recycled is not an eco product, all it means is that it is or can be reused. This is still a positive movement and one that you want to support, most recyclable materials are found in or within certain metals, glass, fabrics, paints and reclaimed woods. However don’t think that you are contributing to the eco product world in full force just because you have a piece that is recycled. Recycling materials is just a smart solution.  

Stay Green and until next time,
Eco-jo!

Images via Lyring, Curbly, Desmint

5 comments:

  1. Great post! And a much needed clarification. Perhaps this is a topic for a separate post, but what actually defines an "eco" design product? I did some research into "green" or "eco" upholstery fabrics as part of a post I did awhile back, and found that it's not clear what standards are required to be met in Canada for a company to be able to label fabrics green/eco. Any futher insight you have would great...cheers.

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  2. We ran into that problem when disposing of paint. We were found a place that recycles paint (makes new paint from old paint) but we probably wouldn't use their product at home because you can't make non-toxic paint from regular ol' latex paint. I was happy to not have it end up in a landfill but you make a good point that recycled does not equal eco...thanks!

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  3. J'aime beaucoup les lustres...
    gros bisous

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  4. this is why I love Industrial furniture and re-purposing utilitarian steel pieces. At least, you know what you are getting. The eco- word had also become a marketing tool.

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