a bottle of water with no label sitting in a clean environment

I’m certainly not an eco-queen as anyone who knows the cars I prefer would attest, but I might be the recycling princess of my neighborhood. Recycle, reuse or restore, I always say.

A few years ago after we moved into our new house and received our shiny new recycle can, I carefully studied the brochure and checked online to make sure we were putting everything in the proper receptacle. As I’m sure you’re aware, every time you move the recycling rules will probably change. I know that in parts of Idaho you can no longer throw plastic water bottles in the recycle bin while here in Phoenix we can recycle glass, plastic containers, and paper all in the same bin. I'm not sure why the rules vary so much from neighborhood to neighborhood, but the result is that recycling isn’t as straight forward as most of us would like.

Pro Tip: Do not put your recyclables in a plastic bag. When they get to the recycle center, the whole bag is simply tossed in the garbage and taken to the landfill.

Recycling has become so complicated that many have thrown up their hands in frustration and given up the fight. Of course that isn't the best answer, but I get it. While it does take a bit of time and some effort on our parts, if you simply commit to making it happen, every day you can make a difference.

The challenges of recycling plastic water bottles have caused me to rethink a small part of my day. It’s super easy to grab a plastic bottle from the fridge as I head out the door, but it only takes an extra 30 seconds to pick up my reusable tumbler and add ice and water. Now that I’ve made it a habit, I can’t imagine doing it any other way. There is even a perfectly sized tumbler here at Advanced Primate that sits nicely in my car console. 

Being as diligent as I’ve been in reading manuals, I thought I knew most everything about recycling until I watched the Waste Management Phoenix Open PGA Golf Tournament. Over 700,000 people attend this event, yet the Open is “water positive, carbon neutral, and zero waste.” They have figured out how to divert 100% of all tournament materials from the landfill. That is a jaw-droppingly impressive achievement and quite an inspiring one too. 


To help reduce waste at Advanced Primate, we carefully select new items for our store. Seeking four ideal characteristics in new products: obvious quality, strong value proposition, made in the U.S.A., and brands with missions of sustainability and positive social impact. While we aren’t perfect in carrying products that excel in all four phases, perfection isn’t an attainable position in our view, rather it’s a forever goal to chase.

Shopping local plays a big role in sustainability. You’ve probably heard the term "shop local" in reference to fruits and vegetables and other farm raised food staples, but it’s true for the material products you buy as well. At first thought, it may not seem like it would make that big of a difference, but it really does. Overseas shipping costs as well as environmental impacts from shipping channels can be reduced significantly by buying things made in the U.S.A. Those costs are multiplied when you consider that they apply not only for an item to get to Advanced Primate and then to you but also for getting all the materials required to make the thing to begin with. By now you should be thirsting for some awesome shop local examples and far be it from me to deny your thirst. Below are just a few that we keep in stock.

  • Jelt Belts are made locally in Montana from those same plastic water bottles that are often difficult to recycle. They look great, are almost invisible, and can be worn through TSA security without setting off the alarm.
  • Proof Eyewear makes sunglasses and other goods that are “handcrafted from sustainable materials including FSC-certified wood, cotton-based acetate, and re-purposed skateboard decks.”
  • Barrel-Art takes pride in crafting reclaimed French and Spanish wine barrels into their rustic, European inspired products.


While many already take at least some steps to reuse and recycle, it’s important to remember that sustainable perfection isn’t a destination, rather it is a goal to be forever chased. If you need proof that amazing is possible, look no further than the Waste Management Open for that.

So what other steps do you take towards sustainability? I would love to hear about it in the comments below!



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