Warm greetings from a very, very warm Hawaii – a sweltering 88 degrees today in Honolulu!
It’s an understatement when we say we love it here. Indeed, the Big Island’s Kamilo Beach was where our journey began with Movement to help folks shop and live more sustainably.
We will be sharing more of that story with you in a sec. First, a big welcome to our inaugural post!
We thought we should kick off this blog with a few of your most frequently asked questions.
But before we get started, let’s find a comfortable chair (ideally a beach one) and mix up a good Mai Tai (or two since it is a blessed long weekend) so we can enjoy getting to know each other a bit better. Shall we?
Paradise Found (Photo: Movement)
Q: Why does Movement offer a take-back recycling program – can’t I just recycle my old phone case in the blue bin?
A: This is perhaps our most asked question because curbside recycling can be ever so ambiguous with their facility's do's and don'ts. Without that clarity, what we do is even more head-scratching.
It therefore seems sensible to answer the second part of the question first.
Since we aren’t exactly in the business of punishing folks with waste management technicalities, the short answer is no.
The long(er) answer, if our dear reader is so inclined, is the distinction between single-use and multi-use plastics. Most municipal recycling programs, aka your blue bins, do not accept the latter.
Many of us are familiar with single-use plastic from such items as packaging and water bottles. Multi-use plastic, on the other hand, is separately classified by the industry as durable plastic. For those cool enough to nerd out on polymers, please read on here.
This impact-resistant variety is the main component behind phone cases and other tech accessories no matter the brand, design, or inclusion of renewable/eco-friendly materials like bamboo.
There are private recycling facilities that accept durable plastics, but here is the caveat: most only take post-industrial scraps which have neither left factories nor reached consumers.
There are a rare few exceptions that deal with post-consumer plastics (if you have already used that phone case, it is considered post-consumer plastic).
Our recycling partner is one of those exceptions. However, these facilities only recover post-consumer plastics in bulk and past a significant weight minimum.
We are talking about shipping containers worth kind of minimum.
Which brings us to answering the first part of the question…
You can look at Movement’s recycling program as a sustainable disposal funnel once only available to industrial sources.
While we weren't looking, phone cases have been low-key creating a massive waste footprint right under our noses.
About 50 million pounds of plastic waste from discarded cases could end up in landfills in the next year alone, and the number is only growing so long as smartphone ownership is still trending up.
Look, you really did pay attention to our recycling program! Biggest thanks to all who have joined our revolution to stop plastic waste from polluting our oceans. (Photo: Movement)
Q: But I read a rather unsettling article about recycling making no economic sense and many US cities have stopped recycling. How is what you are doing any different?
A: Most importantly, it is in everyone’s best interest when the media raises environmental awareness especially on plastic waste and pollution.
It's also important to point out said article’s scope is specifically limited to the city government’s impact on single-use plastic’s recyclability.
Look, these topics are overwhelmingly vast and – let’s face it – mostly unsexy and click-unfriendly. Faced with other limitations the media is often only telling half the story. They know we would rather click on this and they are definitely not wrong.
The other half of the story is not all plastics are created equal – recyclability can also be determined by market demand.
An established secondary market for durable plastics is in fact alive and well. Major consumer brands have been sourcing the recovered material for a wide variety of common and sturdy items such as coffee makers and car dashboards for some time.
There is also more good news: recycling industry leaders can efficiently recover post-consumer plastics at less than 20% of the energy needed to produce the brand new kind from petrochemicals. That is enormous savings on greenhouse gas emissions.
To quote our non-profit partner the 5 Gyres Institute: “Plastic – a material invented to last forever – can no longer be used to make products intended to be thrown away. There is no away.”
We don’t believe plastic the material itself is evil. However, we firmly believe we and other product makers must step up our game to maximize its benefits instead of continuing to waste it.
Not to mention stop polluting the environment with it.
So until we can invent a better material to make our medical supplies, hospital equipment, automotive interiors, refrigerators, infrastructures, and other necessities, we must actively and responsibly renew plastic’s life cycle to take full advantage of its durability.
Q: How did you get the idea to start Movement?
A: Did we mention we really, really love Hawaii?
In all seriousness, our story did begin during a previous visit to the Big Island’s Kamilo Beach, or the Plastic Beach as known to locals.
The name itself was already jarring, but to witness said beach literally covered in plastic waste as far as the eye could see was next level. This stunning contrast between our idea of paradise and the severe pollution we witnessed shook us into recognizing how real and dire the problem truly was.
So we began to slowly educate ourselves. Thanks to science and education-focused environmental organizations like the 5 Gyres, we learned that to win the plastic pollution fight we must fight it upstream.
Yes, our oceans are already very, very polluted and could use the biggest cleaning crew they could get multiplied by a million. However, we can keep on cleaning, or we can stop pollution right at its source.
Pollution is a result of waste. Waste is a result of a product not being used to its potential. A product not used to its potential is effectively bad design. A poorly designed and wasteful product simply creates less economic benefit for the maker and incurs more cost on the environment.
Movement started because we want to rethink, redesign, and repurpose widely consumed products to keep them out of landfills for good.
What we do is far from perfect, but what we chose is a moderate and inclusive approach.
Shopping and living sustainably must be an accessible option for everyone.
By making this small step towards change available to many, we will create a larger impact than the big steps taken by a few.
And that, dear Readership, concludes our post for today. Many, many thanks for allowing us the opportunity to share these thoughts with you.
We too want to get to know you better so don't be shy! Please comment and keep the questions coming.
Now if you would excuse me, the Waikiki sun beckons. So does a strong frosty beverage in a pineapple with my name on it. Cheers and until next time!
P.S. Our recycling program is open to the public! It actually always has been. Our PO box address was posted on the old website’s FAQ, but since the redesign we have yet found a highly visible place to put it:
PO Box 370
Brookline, MA 02446-9998