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Stretching the Imagination: What Are Your Zero Waste Innovations?

It’s a new year, and that means it’s time to get creative for thinking up new ways to use less—it’s kind of our thing. At Zero Waste Communities, we love discovering simple innovations that anyone can do to cut down their consumption or use their castoffs. So naturally, as we are in the midst of our Reusable Bag Campaign we were thrilled to come across Artechnica Inc.’s Stretch Bag. At first glance it might just look like a simple tote bag, but it’s special for two reasons:

First, as much as we like canvas over plastic, these vinyl bags are actually made from discarded billboards. What we love about that is how it transforms a product that usually tells us to consume into something that helps us conserve.  Artechnica’s not alone in this trend; and you can find other companies making bags from old advertisements as well.
But the second interesting thing about this Stretch Bag is not about what it’s made of, but how it’s made. By using a cleaver series of cuts, a single piece of reused vinyl is molded into a handled pouch that can hold just over 30 lbs, no glues, stitching or other parts required. The cuts and stretching aren’t only functional, but they make the bag beautiful by turning old images into abstract colors and geometric shapes. It’s so snazzy, in fact, that it was featured in the Pasadena Museum of California Art’s recent Design Biennial show, Action/Reaction, which highlighted outstanding sustainable art and design in California.

As great as this bag is, we’d like to see if our readers can do better! Post pictures of your zero waste inventions to our Facebook page, and we’ll feature your creations in a photo album on our Facebook page!

Shoes that Reduce your Eco-Footprint

One of our goals here at Zero Waste Communities is to reduce the amount of plastics and other non-biodegradable products that end up in our landfills. Of course, without your help we’ll be stuck in the mud and won’t move forward.


Speaking of moving forward, take a look down at your feet. Are you wearing shoes right now? If not, we bet you probably did recently. You likely even have a few pairs in the closet or on the rug by your back door.


We often see shoes piling up in our garbage cans where they eventually make their way to the dump. We have a lot of shoes, so that’s a lot of trash. That got us thinking: wouldn’t it be cool if this footwear were recyclable? How about even biodegradable?alt


Most of us have more than one pair of shoes. We have our workout shoes, dress shoes, boots, casual shoes and those summer flip flops. Shoes are part of our lives and will be for the foreseeable future. With a little pressure, a lot of shoe companies are using recyclable materials in their footwear; some are even taking it a step further and using biodegradable products.


Nike even has a cool shoe take back program at their stores, where they reuse rubber from old athletic shoes to make subflooring for outdoor basketball courts, running tracks and playgrounds in inner cities. And don't forget, you can always donate your old kicks for good causes (check out last week's post on the subject in case you missed it).


OAT Shoes, a company based in Europe, is actually developing a 100% biodegradable shoe and it should be stateside in the years to come. The California-based Simple brand has an eco-line with a biodegradable shoe, and the running shoe company Brooks has a patented biodegradable sole that they are putting in a popular line of their fast kicks.


We applaud these companies and the others that are taking into consideration the environmental impact of their industry. So, next time you pick up a new pair of shoes, think about what may be best for the environment. (Talk about reducing our environmental "footprint"!)


But still, what do we do with our old shoes? Here’s an idea we hope gets some traction (yes, pun intended). Why not put a few small plants in them? That’s right, plants!



Are you willing to support eco-friendly companies and reduce your household’s waste? And what are you planning on doing with those old shoes you just can’t wear anymore?

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