Upcycled glass cup sets can revolutionize a sector that should be carbon-neutral but still produces an enormous amount of waste.
Last year, we decided to partner with an upcycling operation in Montgomery, Texas, to address a worrying reality: glass, though fully recyclable, is piling up in American landfills. After doing some research, we found upcycling -the process through which an item you dispose of can be transformed into something functional and valuable- could be a great solution to mend this situation.
How glass cups set an example
Thousands of scientists, authors, activists, and influencers are raising awareness of the connection between climate change and pollution. Most of us may perceive this with anxiety: we cannot change policies overnight. Some people may argue there is little we can do about fossil fuels. Maybe we don’t even have the budget to afford a more sustainable vehicle.
Yet, we can do something about our personal choices. Though it may seem like a drop in the middle of the ocean, the way we live, the products we use and consume, and how we decide to spend our dollars have a significant impact. They shape our lives, influence the people around us, create conversations, and set a good (or bad) example.
We see fantastic efforts to find a solution to plastic pollution. It’s overwhelming the boom of plant-based materials or other alternatives to replace plastic (especially containers, like cups or drinking glasses). Yet, it seems we are not paying enough attention to an option already at our disposal: glass.
Upcycled glass cups set an example. By combining upcycling and recycling efforts, we can dramatically reduce waste and carbon emissions.
The role of glass in a carbon-neutral future
Sarah Mitchell and Ernesto Humpierres, Neutrall co-founders, both live in Austin and are parents to twins. Their children attend a Montessori school, where kids are encouraged to use glass cups and pitchers. Not only does this help to grow kids’ self-confidence and motor and planning skills. It’s also a healthier and more sustainable option than plastic or metal cups.
The fact that many US recycling centers have stopped taking glass products in recent years is pretty shocking. Glass can be recycled over and over without losing its properties. Nature defines it as the hidden gem in a carbon-neutral future because all the emissions produced by glass manufacturing -86 million tons of carbon dioxide worldwide- could be cut off.
This can be achieved through two complementary efforts: by upcycling (transforming discarded glass items into something valuable) and recycling (crushing them into cullet, to use it as recycled content in the glass manufacturing process). The latter would require governments to make glass recycling mandatory, which is not happening, at least, for now.
Sadly, US landfills pile up 10 million tons of glass per year, of which 7 million tons account for bottles, jars, and other containers.
Glass cup sets can heal
According to the Glass Packaging Institute, the US barely recycles 33% of all the glass disposed of. Local upcycling operations, scattered all over the US, are trying to mend the gap. The grand majority of discarded bottles coming from restaurants, cafes, and bars hit the landfill - yet, a tiny part is being rescued, one at a time.
Upcycling operations collect discarded glass containers to craft glass cups, coasters, bowls, candleholders, jugs, and so much more. Since we believe in a carbon-neutral future, we founded Neutrall to scale these efforts and promote the adoption of upcycled glassware.
The social impact of upcycled glass cups
The fact that you can transform potential waste into products with a close-to-nil impact on the environment is amazing! In less than a year, we have launched a collection of upcycled drinkware made from “Topo Chico” and wine bottles. Here are just some of the initiatives we plan to develop in the coming months:
- Partner with restaurants to supply upcycled glassware at convenient prices
- Feature our products in more sustainable shops and marketplaces to expand demand.
- Create an Upcycling Alliance community to increase the collection of glass items disposed of promoting upcycling.
- Convey the benefits of upcycled glass products and ally with influencers to grow this movement
- Give back! Use a percentage of Neutrall’s revenue to support environmental projects
Do you need to replace glassware at home?
With each purchase, you support upcycling in America. Other ways of helping are:
- Follow us on social media. Tag your favorite restaurant, store, or marketplace to spread our mission.
- Share our posts, videos, and Pins.
- Gift your friends upcycled eco-friendly products to support the American people working in the sector.