Precious Plastic Alabama


When China shuttered its doors to much of the U.S. recycling industry, Americans were left with lots of trash, and few options to address it.

One of the worst culprits is single-use plastics. Even in areas with curbside recycling, single-use items like plastic forks and cups are rarely accepted. After their brief moment of mealtime glory, these products are condemned to a landfill, where they will spend the next 100–1,000 years decomposing.

In the Netherlands, one organization seeks to change that fate. Precious Plastic is a non-profit group dedicated to collecting and repurposing discarded single-use plastics. The organization encourages new chapters, and that’s how Jr. Editor Aaron Anderson became involved with starting up the new Alabama group.

A Plastic Solution for Birmingham

Precious Plastic Alabama (PPA) is currently headquartered in a local art studio and staffed by a team of five volunteers. Here’s how the process works:

  • PPA collects unwanted plastics that can’t go in curbside recycling
  • The team places plastic in a grinder
  • Shreds get melted down, then injected into a mold
  • Plastic dries and hardens into a new product
  • Products are sold, and money is used to fund operations

“Our goal is to take plastics that people only use once and turn them into objects that have a long lifespan,” Aaron said. “We can make phone cases, park benches, climbing wall grips, bowls, and 3D printer plastic, just to name a few.”

Helping the Planet and its People

In addition to helping the environment, Aaron wants to impact Birmingham on a humanitarian level.

“My dream for this program is to pave a path for Birmingham’s homeless to get off the streets,” Aaron said. “They’ll start by collecting and sorting plastic, then learn to operate the machinery and eventually design products using the 3D printer. We can teach them skills that will give them a way to a better life.”

Along with employing homeless persons, Aarons seeks to use PPA’s proceeds to fund a substance abuse counseling program.

Grinding Forward

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The group is still in its infancy right now. Two of the three machines required are built and operating, with others still being tested. All machines are made of repurposed parts, with the exception of one of the motors.

Aaron notes that it could be several years before PPA is fully functioning as the group envisions. Right now, what it needs most are monetary and plastic donations. The group is also in search of volunteers willing to lend their time and expertise.

“We want to deal with our plastic problem ourselves versus having to send it to China,” Aaron said. “In doing so, we’re bettering Birmingham by lifting up our people and bettering the environment by reducing plastic waste.”

Considering a Standing Desk? Read This First

Benefits of standing desk

For most of us, being productive at work means being at a desk.

However, sitting for too long can cause back, neck, and shoulder pain, along with tightened hip flexors and increased lethargy. Some workers mitigate this by taking regular standing and walking breaks. But another solution that has gained traction lately is the introduction of a new contraption: the sit-stand desk.

How Do Sit-Stand Desks Work?

The nice thing about sit-stand desks is that you’re not stuck in any one position. Using either a motor or a manual hydraulic system, the desk can be raised and lowered to accommodate both standing and sitting.

Researchers agree that the best way to stay healthy at work is by incorporating a mix of sitting, standing, and moving. Sit-stand desks allow you to work however you are most comfortable at that moment.

What Can You Expect from a Sit-Stand Desk?

Traffic Coordinator Andrea Kring is among the agency’s first sit-stand adoptees.

“Because I have a spinal condition, my doctor recommended I try to avoid sitting in the same position all day,” Andrea said.  “I’ve noticed having more energy from being able to stand and stretch out, and my back pain has lessened.”

Andrea notes that she prefers standing and working when she first arrives at the office. She likes to alternate throughout the day, depending on the kind of work she’s doing.

“I really can’t think of a downside of being able to choose sitting or standing while you work,” Andrea said.

Andrea prefers the VARIDESK brand for its reputation for well-designed products. She offered the following advice for those interested in purchasing a sit-stand desk:

“Make sure it has proper hydraulics. Yenae shared with me that she had one at her old job that she had to hoist up and down, and it was a lot of hassle at times. Mechanical risers do cost less and do not make noise to reposition, but you may want to consider the possible additional noise that comes with a motorized version. This is something to consider if you work in a cubicle environment.”

Considering Investing?

Standing desks were once bulky and expensive. We now enjoy an abundance of well-priced options for sit-stand risers.

SAM complies with federal regulations in accommodating employees with ADA-registered disabilities. If you do not meet this criterion, you can still browse the selection of affordable sit-stand desks available from retailers like Amazon. There are many quality products available for under $150.

After reviewing the benefits, you may just feel it is worth the investment!