Eco-Friendly Materials 101

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From wheat straw to recycled PET, here's the scoop on the amazing stuff that makes up our EcoSmart® products.

The feedback has been loud and clear – interest in eco-friendly products has never been greater. This demand is coming from a changing culture where plastic waste reduction is celebrated and laws banning single-use plastics are popping up all over the U.S. and Canada. Through EcoSmart®, we've introduced the industry's best selection of products made from recycled materials, as well as products that are reusable alternatives to items normally thrown away after one use.

Not all recycled materials are the same. Each one has an interesting story about how it became part of an umbrella shaft or a backpack exterior. Here's a quick primer on the amazing materials we use to create our EcoSmart products:

1. Recycled PET

Polyethylene terephthalate, better known by the abbreviation PET, is the most common type of plastic used for water and soft drink bottles, food containers such as peanut butter jars and household cleaners. It's a favorite of the food and beverage industry thanks to its strength, durability and transparency. Unfortunately, these characteristics also mean that it takes about 450 years for a plastic water bottle to decompose (Popular Science). 

It's not all bad news, though. PET happens to be the most recycled plastic in the world. Used PET containers are sorted, cleaned and ground down into pellets that are reintroduced into the manufacturing process that makes our EcoSmart backpacks, umbrellas and even journals. And if you're looking for a retail brand in the eco-friendly game, we've partnered with Parkland to offer their on-trend collection of backpacks, totes, duffel bags and pouches - all made with 100% recycled water bottles. 

Eco-Friendly Materials 101

The exterior fabric of every Parkland bag is made with 100% recycled water bottles.

2. Bamboo

Bamboo is another key EcoSmart material.  We use it for everything from lunch boxes and cutlery to photo frames. Aside from being 100% biodegradable, bamboo is highly renewable. Incredibly, it grows several feet in 24 hours and requires 30% less water to grow. Plus, it looks pretty nice too!

Eco-Friendly Materials 101

3. Wheat Straw

So after all those wheat grains are harvested to make all your favorite baked goods, what becomes of the rigid stalk that's left over? Believe it or not, it ends up in some of our EcoSmart products. Wheat straw is durable enough to become the barrel of a pen, or even a lunch box. And no need to worry about allergies. Since there is no wheat grain in these products, they are totally gluten-free.

Eco-Friendly Materials 101

Leed's Plastic and Wheat Straw Lunch Container (1033-61)

4. Recycled Cotton

According to the Council for Textile Recycling, annual textile waste is estimated to equal 25 billion pounds. Once in landfills, all that material can take hundreds of years to decompose. Fortunately, the leftover cuttings from apparel and textile factories can be recycled and used to make products like tote bags and notebooks. Producing a cotton tote using existing materials that would otherwise be thrown away; is a big step toward reducing CO2 and fossil fuel emissions.

Eco-Friendly Materials 101

Leed's Recycled Cotton Drawstring Bag (3001-72)

The Bottom Line

We believe that big change begins with small steps. Choosing eco-friendly products is your way of making a difference. And EcoSmart is our way of helping.

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