Clearabee’s rubbish removal service is revolutionising the idea of what “recycling” is all about. Not only do they strive to recycle as much of the rubbish they collect as possible, they actually prioritise their system to UP-CYCLE everything they possibly can.
What do we mean by “up-cycle?” Clearabee tries to give items from their rubbish removal customers a new life, an elevated life, a life with a higher purpose than simply breaking it down for recycling. So, for example, they may not take a broken down plastic chair to a place where it’s made into plastic pellets to make plastic water bottles or plastic eye frames. Instead, they may take it to a place where it will be turned into an elegant dining room set or a nice desk. This gives it a much longer life and one that will keep the item out of the land fill for a very long time.
Now, there’s a new effort among sustainability enthusiasts to take this type of up-cycling even further!
The idea is to create a “circular economy.” This is where a company sells items to consumers and then when these items get old and worn out, or perhaps when consumers just don’t want the items any more, the consumer gets to send the item(s) back to the same company to be used in creating new products to be sold again — and this completes the circle, i.e. the circular economy! If one is careful and thoughtful about the process, the end result is zero waste!
A good example of a company striving for a circular economy is an up start company called Pentatonic, run by Jamie Hall and Johann Boedecker. They use items from rubbish removal sites like old mobile phones, textile waste, cans, electrical waste, food waste, and even disgusting items like cigarette butts to create high end furniture and other highly desirable household items. Moreover, instead of using resins or toxic glues, they design each piece so it can be intuitively assembled by the consumer using the components themselves. This eliminates the need to include tools for assembly and other items that would be turned into waste. They also design things in a modular and customisable way so the items will accommodate the tastes and requirements of more than just one person and the items can be used for more than one function.
In an interview, Jamie Hall and Johann Boedecker talk about how they are radically transforming a consumption culture! A “consumption culture” is what we’ve been doing for decades. We’d buy socks, wear them a few times, and then throw them away to end up in the landfill. We did the same thing with furniture. We’d buy a table, get tired of it, and put it out on the street for pick up! Where did it used to end up? The landfill… that is until companies like Clearabee came along with a good idea on how to significantly reduce these waste streams. Now, we can see the beginning of a future where we send the table back and it gets remade into another table, perhaps an even better table, or perhaps two end tables and a book shelf.
The clothing industry is beginning to go down this path of “circular economy” as well. Patagonia was the first to ask their customers to send back them their worn out Patagonia garments so they could turn them into brand new garments again. The buzzword on the street has been textile recycling. Old clothes and textile scraps from the manufacturers’ floors (textile rubbish removal) that used to be sent to the landfills are now turned into new highly desirable clothes. Tonlé is one fashion brand that does this with textiles from fair wage factories in Cambodia. Some of the larger clothing manufacturers have become interested in this practice as well because it can be so profitable to do so. These fashion “big guns” tend to call this “closed loop practices.”
A circular economy is where the mainstream companies are headed because of early adopters and visionary companies like Clearabee, Pentatonic, Patagonia. It’s exciting when you think about it. No longer will be filling up landfills with our rubbish and sending toxins into our ground water, lakes, streams, and oceans. We’ll do what Mother Earth does with her most valuable resources. We’ll recycle and up-cycle them in a circular continuous streams that wastes close to nothing.