(Note - Hi everyone - sorry for the long delay between postings, we just moved to a new house...moving with two young children, not recommended! Anyway, look out for a few new posts as I catch up.)
We are reviewing four new products, three made or delivered in 100% recycled plastic, and one that is fully recyclable. Spoiler alert: only three make the cut to be included on our site.
Preserve Food Storage Container and Colander
If you have been to R&R before you’ll know that one of our favorite companies using recycled materials is Preserve. You could almost outfit most of your house with Preserve's products. They sell a recycled plastic version of almost every household good you need.
We just bought and tested two new items - their perfectly sized 25 oz. food storage container and their durable colander (both made of 100% recycled plastic, of course).
Preserve’s 100% Recycled Plastic 25 oz. Food Container
First the container - do you use a lot of food storage containers? Our house is a big leftovers house and we are always running out of food containers.
Preserve’s 25 oz. container is the perfect small-to-medium size. When we are running low on containers, typically we only have very large ones left. But the nature of leftovers means you usually only have a few bites left, plus the big containers take up a lot of space in the fridge.
This container is also great for packing sandwiches to take to work or school, its the perfect fit for your classic square-sized sandwich bread.
I think of my food storage containers like a stable of horses (I know, I'm weird). Some get taken out only occasionally for a huge job storing a week's worth of cooked beans, rice, or some other big meal.
Preserve's 25 ouncer is one of my thoroughbreds, I use is constantly. Frankly, we probably could have bought at least two sets. I highly recommend adding it to your stable, um, I mean kitchen.
Preserve’s 100% Recycled Plastic Colander
Next the colander - what can I say, it is a high quality product that happens to be made of 100% recycled plastic.
I cook most nights of the week and routinely use a colander. The Preserve colander is large and sturdy, it holds a lot (we use the 3.5 quart size). The white color doesn’t show any signs of wear or stains, despite frequent use with all sorts of food (including beets!).
As we have mentioned before, we love Preserve for other reasons too. First, we basically share a similar origination story (more about the inspiration behind R&R here).
Preserve's founder Eric Hudson saw that although Americans were putting ample materials into the recycling stream, it would not get used unless manufacturers used it to make things (of course he figured this out 20 years before us...better late than never though I guess).
Preserve does an awesome job limiting packaging waste. We were pleasantly shocked how little packaging accompanied their set of four 16 oz. bowls we also own (see our review). The four bowls were simply taped together with a small sticker strip. BTW, the sticker had a great slogan on it: "Reuse Forever, or return it and we will." How cool is that?! The world would be a different place, environmentally speaking, if more companies were as thoughtful as Preserve.
The Quick and Dirty on Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 Pure-Castile Soaps
Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap is a concentrated, effective soap that comes in a 100% recycled plastic bottle. Dr. Bronner’s has more certifications than you can shake a stick at. It is all organic (certified by two different bodies), fair trade, vegan, non-GMO, kosher and I think the soap is licensed to marry couples in CA (ok, maybe not the last one). The company is also run in a highly ethical and socially responsible manner.
A quirky, cool approach to business with a distinctive label that has the founder’s manifesto on it, the company owns its quirkiness by letting their “freak flag fly,” including a full-throated advocacy of legalizing marijuana and hemp, among other causes.
We use it for dishes, after diluting it, and it is very effective. Since you dilute it, the bottle lasts for a long time. The soap can also be used for many other purposes - surface cleaner, floors, bathrooms, brushing your teeth (I haven’t tried that one, but really, it says that, so you should go ahead and try, let me know how it works out...what, are you chicken?).
We even used the soap to wash our car! However, Dr. Bronner’s lists 18 uses and washing your car isn’t one of them, and it seems like good reason. It kept the kids cool (and busy) on a hot day but the car was a little streaky with soap residue.
All-in-all, this is a great environmentally sustainable choice for your household!
Supporting Small Versus Big Companies
For frequent visitor’s of R&R you will have noticed that for cleaning, we have a lot of Seventh Generation products on the site. Although Seventh Generation is owned by Unilever, a large multinational corporation, both of those companies are doing great work on sustainability (read more here).
However, we love to support smaller companies as a default rule. Dr. Bronner’s, which is dwarfed by Unilever (revenue counted in millions, not billions like Unilever), is definitely a quirkier option for keeping your dishes clean (or 17 other uses).
Dr. Bronner presents a pretty convincing case that they are a very environmentally sustainable and socially responsible company. I am convinced that Dr. Bronner is pursuing business the right way, with fair trade practices, well taken care of employees, and environmentally friendly practices.
I would say there is a low chance of greenwashing going on here.
On Amazon, Dr. Bronner's liquid soap is definitely more expensive than Seventh Generation (26 cents per ounce versus 12 cents for Seventh Generation's dish soap). However, I think you can get better deals on Dr. Bronner's if bought in store, especially if you have a Trader Joe's in your area of the country or some other discount grocery store.
Dr. Bronner's Global Activism
In addition to the various certification mentioned above, Dr. Bronners’s has a very cool business model in which they form partnerships around the world in developing countries to buy ingredients.
For instance, they founded a sister company in Ghana to sustainably grow palm oil called Serendipalm. The cultivation of palm oil is a major source of deforestation in Asia and it is impressive that Dr. Bronner’s has found a way to avoid they problems with its use, while also benefiting over 600 family farmers in Africa. Serendipalm now even supplies other companies with sustainable palm oil.
Dr. Bronner is Flipping Marketing on Its Head
Although we have mostly used the soap for dishes, I am intrigued by the minimalist possibilities presented by Dr. Bronners.
Part of our trash problem in modern society is related to how marketers have convinced us we need 13 different types of cleaners for each part of our house. There is a different surface cleaner for the kitchen, the bathroom, the tub, the floor.
Now I don’t know if all of Dr. Bronner’s 18 uses make sense - that count includes shampoo (I’ll stick with my Ethique shampoo bars), face wash, and even toothpaste!
However, using Dr. Bronner’s for your floors or as an all purpose cleaner is the kind of life-simplifying step I can get behind.
If people used Dr. Bronner’s for even 7 of the 18 uses, I think that could cut out a lot of plastic bottles, not to mention de-cluttering your house a bit as well and potentially saving some money (which might offset the slightly higer price mentioned above).
Ruffwear’s Fully Recyclable Dog Toy - NOT RECOMMENDED
The Lunker Floating Toy is partially made of PLUSfoam, a fully recyclable material made by a company with the same name.
Our initial impressions of the product were positive. Our dog loved the toy, but sometimes the pooch can give more tough love than a grumpy nun on the first day of Catholic school. The dog has torn through many beds and toys that claimed to be tough.
The Lunker Floating Toy is made by Ruffwear and claims to be “Built to last...made from abrasion-resistant materials to stand up to the most eager dogs and the longest games of fetch.”
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case. Within a few days he was able to get the rope handle off of the toy but it was still functional since we could still toss it for a game of fetch.
However, two months in, the dog got into the seams and basically tore it apart.
We appreciate Ruffwear’s efforts to make a sustainable toy and although it is better than a typical plastic toy that lasts a few months, we don’t think it is worth the $20.
Here at R&R we prefer products that last long, real long, hopefully decades. This reduces society’s unfortunate “buy, throw away, buy again” cycle that has gotten us in this mess.
In addition, the PLUSfoam components, which are recyclable, need to be sent back to PLUSfoam to be repurposed. However, their website was down when I checked and I’m wondering if they are still in business.
All in all, this product will not make the cut to our site, sorry Ruffwear...it is a dog-eat-dog world.
Question for discussionBut really, has anyone actually used Dr. Bronner's liquid soap for all 18 uses? How about to brush your teeth? If so, let us know how it went in the comments.