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Sustainably good news: Recycling is getting better and this family is showing us how

What if instead of focusing on what isn’t working, we looked at these stories as an invitation to do better?

Sustainably good news: Recycling is getting better and this family is showing us how
Via Ridwell

Ryan Metzger and son Owen

There is no shortage of dire news about the state of modern recycling. Most recently, this NPR article shared the jaw-dropping statistic that about 5% of all plastics produced get recycled, meaning the rest of it ends up in landfills. While the underlying concerns here are sound, I worry that the public narrative around recycling has gotten so pessimistic that it will make people give up on it entirely instead of seeing the opportunities to improve it. What if instead of focusing on what isn’t working, we looked at these news stories as an invitation to do better?



This question isn’t rhetorical for me; it’s been the motivation behind how I’ve spent the past five years of my life. It started when my son Owen asked me how we could recycle our dead batteries where we live in Seattle. After making a few phone calls and realizing how complicated it was, we made it a weekend project to pick up our neighbor’s batteries along with other hard-to-recycle items.This novel approach of having your hard-to-recycle stuff “carpool” with your neighbors quickly caught on in Seattle. Our rapidly growing community was looking at their junk drawers with new eyes, felt inspired to be part of something bigger, and kept asking what else we could pick up.

This enthusiasm turned my family’s passion project into Ridwell, a company whose mission it is to make it easy to deal with hard-to-recycle materials like plastics, light bulbs, batteries, & more. We pick up where curbside recyclers leave off, providing our members in six states with a way to recycle and reuse materials right from their doorsteps. In 2022 alone, our community kept more than one million pounds of hard-to-recycle plastic film out of landfills. To date, we’ve kept more than ten million pounds of hard-to-recycle materials from going to waste. All of this impact started with a simple, optimistic reframe. Instead of dwelling on what our curbside service couldn’t take, we instead asked ourselves how we could help.

Ryan Metzger, Founder and CEO of Ridwell

Via Ridwell

It’s been a lot of work to be sure, but what’s kept me motivated on this journey has been learning about all of the exceptional efforts happening elsewhere to make recycling work better for everyone. Our elected officials are creating new policies that powerfully shift market incentives, like Maine’s law that makes companies pay for their own recycling or California’s law that creates more demand for recycled plastic. Engineers are developing new ways to recycle tricky plastics, while citizens across the country are raising awareness about the need for government and corporations to do more.

The longer I’ve worked in the recycling space, the more I’ve found allies and collaborators who are finding surprising uses for materials that used to be dismissed as trash. Trex has pioneered a method of turning soft plastics like grocery bags into high-performance decking for homes. Companies like ByFusion and Arqlite are turning multilayer plastic packaging once considered unrecyclable into building materials and hydroponics gravel. The types of innovations we’ll need to solve our recycling crisis are all around us; we just need to keep connecting these pockets of innovation into a more holistic system of reuse and recycling.

So while the news cycle around recycling can often feel overwhelming, I always encourage people to use these grim statistics as motivation to lean into the challenge and look for solutions. For some people, that’s calling their legislators, and for others, it’s coming up with new packaging that has a smaller environmental footprint. For those of us at Ridwell, it’s about how we can help make it easy for households to keep hard-to-recycle materials out of the landfill. As the past decade has shown us, the overwhelming “Pacman-shaped” chunk of the pie chart often shows us where the most impactful innovations must come from and where the next wave of businesses must focus. Yes, we are at an inflection point when it comes to addressing the problems posed by excessive waste in this country. To be honest, I’ve never felt more optimistic that we have what it takes to address this problem, together.


Ryan Metzger is a guest contributor to Upworthy and founder and CEO of Ridwell

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Unique Vintage blends classic designs with contemporary sensibilities, making vintage-inspired fashion for every body.

Everyone loves the timeless allure of vintage fashion. But let’s face it: vintage fashion doesn’t love everyone back. The golden eras of style we so admire were not exactly known for their diversity or size inclusivity, so the silhouettes and sizes of retro fashion leave a lot of people feeling left out. But are you ready for some good news? One LA-based brand called Unique Vintage has set about rewriting fashion history by recreating vintage styles to fit the modern world. With a commitment to diversity and inclusivity, this company is making sure that anyone can rock their favorite vintage looks. If you’re looking for a fashion brand that actually celebrates the things that make us unique, you need to keep reading.

What is Unique Vintage?

In the heart of LA, at the dawn of the new millennium, Katie Echeverry’s love of vintage fashion set her on a course to change the fashion industry forever. Fueled by her passion for the elegance of bygone eras and the thrill of thrift store treasure hunts, Katie opened her own online vintage store, Unique Vintage. However, what Katie noticed was that there were tons of people who loved vintage clothing who could never actually wear. And it was this gap in the vintage fashion market that led her to turn Unique Vintage from an online vintage store to a fullblown vintage-inspired fashion label. Today, Unique Vintage has blossomed into an iconic brand that transforms nostalgia for the past into the fashion statements of the present.

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Ready to take a look at what Unique Vintage has to offer? Then lets dive in.

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The Western Collection is where nostalgia meets contemporary style, offering a range of sizes to ensure that everyone can find their perfect fit and embrace their adventurous spirit. Whether you're getting dressed up for a girls night out, or you just like to look amazing when you go to the grocery store, these pieces are designed to turn heads.

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From chic pencil dresses to playful A-line skirts, each item in the collection is an homage Barbie’s classic style, updated to ensure that everyone can find their perfect fit and feel fabulous.By blending Barbie's classic appeal with Unique Vintage's inclusive sizing, this collaboration invites everyone to experience the joy of dressing like a true fashion icon.

The Prom Collection

If you’ve got a special occasion coming up and you want to make a statement, the Unique Vintage Prom Collection offers a wide array of styles that cater to every taste. From the timeless elegance of the 1950s, to the bold glamor of the 1980s, and everything in between, this collection proves that classic styles never truly go out of fashion.

Each dress in this collection is a masterpiece specifically designed to make you feel like a prom queen. If you love the intricate details of vintage dresses, but have a hard time finding ones that fit—or that you can actually afford—Unique Vintage can make your dreams come true.

Vintage Inspired Fashion For Every Body

Thanks to Unique Vintage, gone are the days of rummaging through thrift stores, only to face the disappointment of not finding the right size, style, or price. Now everybody can experience the joy and nostalgia of vintage fashion—without even leaving the house. Whether you're in love with the flapper dresses of the roaring '20s, the swing skirts of the '50s, or the bold prints of the '70s, Unique Vintage offers a meticulously curated collection that spans the decades. Shop by clothing category, or by your favorite era, and find the classic looks you want while supporting a company that champions diversity, body positivity, and ethical practices.

So, why wait? With Unique Vintage, every purchase contributes to a broader movement towards a more inclusive and conscious fashion industry. If you’ve always loved vintage fashion, but have never been able to make it work for you, go check out the growing Unique Vintage community on social media for some fashion inspiration. Then check out Unique Vintage online and start building the vintage-inspired wardrobe of your dreams.

via Tod Perry

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