Every year consumers around the world use and throw away hundreds of millions of plastic PET bottles.
Today, many of these are collected in recycling schemes, sorted and ground for recycling into rigid plastics such as in car parts, computers, appliances and packaging; but also spun into fibre, yarn and then woven fabric for use in carpets, clothing, bags, lanyards and caps.
Recycling PET into these products saves energy, resources and reduces waste compared to the use of virgin fibres derived from oil. It also diverts long-lived PET plastic waste from landfill.
Canvas is a viable alternative to the plastic, vinyl and pvc pencil cases that seem to dominate the school ground. It is ultimately biodegradable, uses plant fibre rather than fossil fuels for production, and is of course reusable.
Organic Cotton bags are viable alternatives to the dreaded plastic bag and to conventional cotton bags. Cotton is a wonderfully versatile, breathable, absorbent, soft fibre of global importance. But the farming, irrigation and pest control practices of conventionally grown cotton are proving problematic for the planet.
Gradually a new option is becoming available, with more cotton being grown organically (no pesticides or fungicides) and sometimes without irrigation. Initially available in clothing, towels and bed linen, organic cotton is now being used in a wider variety of fabric applications, including T-shirts, bags and caps. While supplies are still limited, there is no doubt that the spread of organically grown cotton will continue, saving water, soils, energy and preventing chemical pollution.