Improving sustainability practices by recycling

(Family Features) Almost everyone knows that recycling helps promote a more sustainable lifestyle. A lesser known but effective way to keep materials out of the landfill is through recycling.

When items are recycled, they are usually broken down and the materials are used to create other products. For example, glass can be melted down to create new glass containers, milk jugs can become play equipment, and discarded newspapers form the basis of some cat litter.

Upcycling is a little different. With upcycling, the material does not change shape but reinvents itself. A popular tact is to reinvent thrift store furniture finds into new pieces, like converting an old trunk into a whimsical coffee table.

Upcycling can also be an effective and affordable way for philanthropic organizations to accomplish their missions. One example is Help Heal Veterans (Heal Vets), a non-profit organization dedicated to serving veterans and active duty military personnel by providing therapeutic craft kits. Recently, the organization announced that it had received and reused over one million pounds of recycled materials.

“Through recycling, we are able to responsibly use donated materials that would have been sent to landfills to serve veterans who need our support,” said retired Navy captain Joe McClain. and CEO of Heal Vets.

The organization reuses leather, fabric, and other materials to create therapeutic craft kits for veterans and active-duty military around the world. Thousands of kits are shipped each month to aid in the long-term support and recovery of those affected by war wounds.

Each kit is a complete project, such as leatherworking, model building, jewelry making, or another creative piece. While all kits help veterans focus on the present and build self-esteem, many are also customized to focus on specific needs such as restoring fine motor skills and concentration or relieving pain. depression and anxiety.

Recycled materials, such as leather from old airplane seats, make the kits possible. Together, Southwest Airlines, Arise Foundation and Duncan Aviation donated 335,000 pounds of leather from obsolete seat covers to support numerous leather kit options, including wallets, belts, footballs and wristbands.

Other organizations supplying base materials include The Elks (over a million square feet of tanned deer hides), La-Z-Boy (469,500 pounds of upholstery), American Woodmark (112,400 books of cabinets) and Magna (40,000 pounds of automobile seats).

Upcycling at home

Pledge to sustainability with these recycling ideas you can implement in your daily life:

* Empty tissue boxes can be used to organize supplies including pens, seasoning packets and more.

* Instead of throwing away an old shower curtain, save it to use as a drop cloth for messy art projects with the kids.

* Put mateless socks on your hand to use as dusting gloves or to collect and store small pieces of games or other household items.

* Cut the top of two empty plastic bottles of the same circumference. Attach a zipper to the cut edges using hot glue or tape for fun storage of art supplies.

* Add a backing with chalkboard paint to an old window or mirror frame for a stylish bulletin board.

Learn more about the relationship between upcycling, sustainability, and veteran support at Source: Help heal veterans.

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