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In case you haven't noticed, recyclables are kinda badass.

From our curbsides, they’re launched into an odyssey of tumbles and churns along miles of conveyor belt.


Photo by U.S. Navy/Wikimedia Commons.

In the end, they emerge anew, transformed from crushed empty vessel to resilient post-consumer material. (A smart choice for the eco-conscious manufacturer!)

It's magical, I know.

Sadly, recycling is not the fate of the majority of our blue bin soldiers.

Two-thirds of our recyclables here in the U.S. never make that final turn in the loop. Instead, they meet early graves in earth, sea, and even air if they’re incinerated.

Image via OpenClipArt (altered).

It’s not for a lack of demand. Companies are fiending for green manufacturing alternatives.

“Big companies ... hoping to burnish their environmental credentials, can’t get their hands on enough of it,” wrote The New York Times.

The problem is we're not equipped to feed the beast. We need more advanced recycling infrastructure, but how do we pay for it?

Enter: Corporate America.

In 2014, Ron Gonen, New York's former deputy recycling czar, started the Closed Loop Fund, a $100 million venture capital — sorry, social impact — fund with its eyes on the green. Two greens, actually: sustainability and money.

The investors are a roster of companies we wouldn't usually deem friends of the Earth, including, among others, Walmart, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Keurig, and Goldman Sachs.

Maybe you're thinking, "Wait ... now corporations want to make money cleaning the messes they create?"

The answer is yes. Yes they do. (That's capitalism for ya.)

But it doesn't appear to be as vulturous an endeavor as we might imagine.


Gross. Image by J.J./Wikimedia Commons (altered).

Their game plan includes zero interest loans to cities and below market loans to private companies that want to build and modernize recycling facilities. That doesn't sound so bad — assuming they're not playing gotcha! with the fine print.

Their goal is simple: They want to prove recycling can be profitable.

Closed Loop Fund is investing in projects with the potential to divert massive tonnage of waste from landfills.

Their pilot investment was in a Baltimore-based facility that's getting harder-to-recycle plastics ready to sell in post-consumer plastics markets.


Photo by Kristian Bjornard/Flickr.

They're also funding upgrades to dated recycling plants in Ohio and Iowa, converting them into more efficient single-stream systems.

Gonen told The New York Times they're also looking to invest in a company that would turn mixed glass into paving and building materials.

Can we increase recycling without making wealthy corporations even wealthier?

Yup. And we needn't look any further than the largest investor of all: the government.

If private companies want to invest in recycling, they should be our guests. But protecting the environment is really all our responsibility. As voters and taxpayers, we should expect more public investments, too.

And it should start with a national recycling mandate which, believe it or not, does not currently exist.

Recycling rates have stagnated in recent years. But we can change that by making it a national priority and giving everyone the means to do it.

It might cost us on the front end, but hey — consider it an investment.

To learn more about how modern recycling facilities work (which is fascinating, by the way), check out this animated video by RE3.org:

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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