Sustainable Materials and Why You Should Pay Attention to Them
What is Sustainability?
What is sustainability? The word ‘sustainable’ defined by Merriam Webster’s dictionary is as follows:
of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged.
In other words, we need to make a conscious effort to ensure the Earth’s natural resources aren’t being depleted, especially due to our actions… which means being cognizant of what we’re purchasing and how we’re disposing of these items. People and the planet alike benefit from sustainably-produced products, whether they be in the categories of personal care, clothing, toys, common household items, and more. To put it simply, if we have a healthy planet, the inhabitants of this planet will reap the benefits of this health as well. Likewise, if the planet is being abused by its inhabitants, the inhabitants will also suffer the consequences.
That’s where you come in! We here at Bowfish make a conscious effort every single day to reduce our footprint in any way that we can think of, and we think you should give it your best shot as well. We aim to handpick products that are eco-friendly, ethically produced, and created responsibly, using conscious production methods. A major component in choosing what Bowfish should carry is the materials in which the products are made. Sustainable materials are at the root of this eco-friendly movement, so it’s important to get an understanding of them and how they’re friendly for the Earth.
First up: recycled plastic! If you’ve done any research into sustainable companies, you’ll find that many of them have found ways to utilize recycled materials. An undeniably huge polluter of our planet is—you guessed it—plastic. That’s where the use of recycled plastic comes into play—it ensures that products are made from a recycled source and keeps plastic out of oceans and landfills. Two of our brand partners, Green Toys and Re Play, actually create products from the same type of recycled plastic—milk jugs!
Green Toys also utilizes other recycled plastic in the making of their toys when necessary. Their process is as follows: waste management collects the recycled plastic, then the plastic is cleaned, shredded, and made into raw material, according to their website. Raw materials are then dyed using a mineral-based and food-safe dye… Then the product comes together! Green Toys has used over 100 million recycled milk jugs in their production process to date.
Re Play also boasts having saved over 40 million milk jugs from landfills as of 2019. Their brand, however, is focused on children’s tableware. Like Green Toys, all of their products are made of not only recycled plastic, but also food-safe plastic. Since Re Play's US factory is so close to their distribution center, they have a lower carbon footprint than if they produced in China—in other words, products travel thousands of miles less to make it to your home! This is quite impressive considering how much of a positive impact this makes on the planet.
Recycled Rubber Wood
A more unconventional sustainable material, recycled rubber wood is used in all of our brand partner Plan Toys’ products. Overall, they are proud of the fact that they are upcycling these trees—which would normally be burned once they no longer produce latex—by creating toys for your little one to cherish. After 25 years, trees stop producing latex and are therefore removed. Plan Toys, however, ensures that those trees do not go to waste by using their rubber wood in their products. They guarantee that all toys are free of toxins due to the last three years of the tree’s life being fertilizer-free, according to the Plan Toys website.
Organic cotton is at the forefront of the sustainability movement and rightfully so. It has a lot of benefits to using it in place of cotton, especially because it is most friendly to the environment. First off, toxic chemicals are not used during the process of growth and therefore the soil remains undamaged, according to aboutorganiccotton.org. It’s also healthier for the air and uses 88% less water. Not only is it better for the environment, but it’s likewise healthier for the farmers who grow it. Due to the cotton being organic, they can rest assured that they are not being exposed to toxic chemicals via pesticides in their everyday life.
A pioneer of this organic cotton movement is our brand partner Elly Lu Organics! Elly Lu is known for their toys being made of organic cotton and non-toxic dyes. According to their website, all of their toys are certified OSC 100, which means that the outer fabric was made from a crop grown organically. There are also no pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, or GMO’s as part of the growth process. To round out their sustainable practices, Elly Lu is committed to using non-toxic dyes in all of their products.
Econyl, at its core, is the same as recycled plastic. However, it’s also more specific than that—It focuses on recycled nylon. We all have worn nylon at some point, and while it has great uses (it’s especially known for being used in pantyhose), it is still made of plastic. Aquafil, a global company focused on synthetic fibers and sustainable solutions, created Econyl as an alternative to basic nylon, according to Econyl’s website. Rather than creating new products out of new nylon, Econyl is made of recycled nylon waste. This means that they work to keep plastic out of our oceans and regenerate it back into our wardrobes.
A plethora of brands now use Econyl, including our brand partner Piccolo Principi. In fact, all of their swimwear is made of this sustainable alternative. According to their green page, Piccolo Principi chose to use Econyl upon finding out that 10% of the ocean’s plastic pollution is derived from fishing nets, which are—of course—made from nylon. In addition to the utilization of this sustainable material, the brand is also cognizant of their packaging, transport methods, and the harmful effects of sunscreen on our oceans (which is why their swimwear is certified UPF 50+).
Making Better Purchases
So... why should you seek out products that were made from sustainable materials? There are so many reasons! They help to keep trash out of landfills and oceans, and they also typically have a lower carbon footprint. These materials can be better for the air, use less water, and be healthier for the people who take part in the production process, such as farmers and factory workers. Seeking out companies that go the extra mile to ensure they are doing their part in helping the planet is extremely important, and we hope you’ll check out some of the awesome brands we discussed in this post.
If you’re looking for a way to get involved directly, we encourage you to join the Bowfish Sustainability Club. Sign up on our Environmental Club webpage to get involved today!