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Forward-looking businesses are working to incorporate sustainable and recycled materials in consumer products
We use too much stuff, you and I. In fact, along with the rest of the human race, we use up about 60 per cent more of the earth’s resources than it regenerates, according to the World Economic Forum.
Meanwhile, we’re creating about two billion tonnes of solid waste annually, reports the World Bank, with more than a third of it not managed in an environmentally safe manner.
New regulations requiring businesses to publish information on their sustainability efforts (ESGs) are sure to raise consumer awareness of these challenges, and of the environmental and economic benefits of a circular economy.
Forward-looking businesses are already working to incorporate sustainable and recycled materials in consumer products, an overriding theme at the international design and décor show Salone del Mobile held earlier this year in Milan.
One of the most prominent proponents was Dutch company Cooloo, which develops and makes furniture and finishing technologies using waste materials, recycled leather, and cork.
Mass brands like IKEA are incorporating recycled materials into their system, which they say will use only renewable and recycled materials by 2030. In the meantime, they are finding uses for materials like lyocell, a fabric made from wood pulp that’s used in their Hidrasund mattress.
Libman may be of the earliest examples of strategic use of recycled materials in manufacturing that I saw up close. When I toured their Illinois manufacturing facility in 2019, it seemed that every last scrap of offcut from production was being scooped up and re-used, and systems were designed to minimize waste. Still, the last thing you see on the way out of the factory is a gentleman who hand-makes corn brooms.
One of the latest products is a Tornado Spin Mop System — more simply, a box with a wringer pail, reusable mop, and handle, for about $50. (Hang on to the box until you’ve used it once — all the super-simple instructions are right on it. Or go to Libman for tips.)
Spin mops don’t, in my view, get the respect they deserve as an extremely versatile cleaning tool. For the unconverted, a spin mop has a detachable string head on a handle. It works with a pail that has a mechanism that uses centrifugal force to wring dirty water out of the mop.
It’s terrific for quickly cleaning up liquid (oops, dropped a milk carton, or a bottle of vodka), cleaning large areas quickly, and getting to hard-to-reach spots — useful, unless you enjoy getting down on your knees to scrub behind the toilet or climbing into the bath to wash it. Used dry, it scoops up even the biggest dust bunnies under the bed with just a few passes.
The mop head for the Libman kit is made from microfibre, very thin strands of highly absorbent material that’s very efficient at grabbing germs, allergens, dirt, and dust. Using one with just soap and water can remove over 99 per cent of E. Coli and staphylococcus on ceramic and hardwood.
It’s also machine-washable. If you treat it properly — no softeners, bleach, or dryers — the mop head will last for years. When it does clock out, a replacement costs about $10.
The handle is made out both recycled and new steel, so it balances performance with sustainability. Both features add to its longevity, which for me makes it inherently more environmentally responsible than disposable mop pads.
The locking mechanism is smooth and the head spins evenly. There’s a well-placed drain opening placed on one end of the bucket, so I can pour dirty water in the sink without getting splashed (yuck).
BONUS POINT: When I clean with a spin mop, my Fitbit thinks its exercise, making it both healthier for the planet, and for me.
Vicky Sanderson is the editor of Around the House, www.aroundthehouse. ca. Check her out on Instagram@ athwithvicky, Twitter ATHwithVicky and or Facebook.com/ATHVicky.ca.