The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish
June 3, 2010

Recyclable Windshield Wiper Blades

06/26/2010 Update:  And the winner of the recyclable windshield wiper blades is Rhonda Coulter.  Congratulations, Rhonda!

recycle windshield wiper bladesDo you need a new pair of windshield wiper blades? Leave a comment (after reading this post) to enter the giveaway. I have a brand new pair, and since I don’t have a car, they’re not doing me any good sitting in my living room.

Recycling Windshield Wiper Blades?

So what business do I have writing about car windshield wiper blades when I don’t even own a car? Well, a while back I received a PR pitch from JAMAK Fabrication about their new green, recyclable windshield wiper blades, and I was intrigued.

Why? Because by “recyclable”, they don’t mean that you can stick them in your recycle bin and be done with them. That wouldn’t be anything new. Lots of companies these days greenwash their products by saying they’re recyclable. No, what Jamak means is that they will take back the windshield wiper blades themselves and make new products out of them.

But let’s back up. Since I don’t own a car, I knew next to nothing about windshield wiper blades except that I wouldn’t want to drive in the rain without them. I didn’t know, for example, that you’re supposed to replace your windshield wipers every 6 to 12 months. But Jamak’s silicone blades are guaranteed for the life of your car. That’s an improvement in and of itself.

Wanting to know more, I spoke with company owner Al Micallef, who gave me an earful about waste, plastic, and recycling. According to Al, the best form of recycling is never having to replace a product in the first place. But when products do need to be recycled, it’s important they be made out of a material that can be reprocessed into new products immediately without downcycling. And he told me that he has developed a way to repolymerize the silicone (a material derived from sand rather than petroleum) and reuse it. Al said, “You can take a (rubber) tire and make a floor mat. But that’s not true recycling.”

Researching this article, I Googled “recycle windshield wipers” and came up with all kinds of ways to repurpose (like making a floor mat out of a tire) but not recycle:

http://www.recyclethis.co.uk/20071008/how-can-i-reuse-or-recycle-wiper-blades

http://forums.bellaonline.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/574121/Recycling_Windshield_Wipers

Testing the Blades

Jamak sent me some samples to test out. And since I don’t have a car, my friends David and Nancy offered to be my guinea pigs. Unfortunately, when the blades arrived, rain was not in the forecast, so we had to make some of our own. Oh my god, get ready, because it gets really exciting!

What did I tell you?  I’d play it backwards for you, but I’m not sure my heart could take it.

Seriously, besides the fact that the blades last a really long time and can be recycled, there’s something else that’s exciting to me.

Plastic-Free Packaging

There’s no plastic on the shipping box…

Jamak wiper blade shipping box

and none on the wiper packaging.

Jamak wiper blade packaging

The blades are sold in stores in 100% cardboard without even a plastic window.

Jamak wiper blade packaging

Or they are shipped from TheWiperStore.com in a paper bag.

The Downside

Nothing is perfect, right? Jamak, unfortunately, does not sell wiper blade refills, so the metal parts cannot be reused. Instead, Jamak asks that you put the metal frame into your recycle bin to be recycled with scrap metal. Here in Oakland, we are not allowed to put any metal besides cans into our bins. I’m not sure how metal recycling works in other areas. So the system could use a tweak. But if the blades last as long as they are supposed to, there will be much less material wasted in the first place.  Unfortunately, that’s a test I can’t do in a weekend.  And regardless, I wish Jamak would take back the metal along with the silicone or create refills so the metal doesn’t have to be replaced.

In the meantime, you could keep those metal parts for an art project, like the artist in this GardenWeb forum who won a prize for his preying mantis planter made with metal wiper blade parts.

The Wiper Blade Giveaway

I have one set of new, unused 17″ wiper blades to give away.  You’ll have to determine what size blades your car uses and whether 17″ will work for you. Then, please leave a comment describing what strategies you use to lower the amount of waste you generate through driving, whether it be wasted fuel, wasted materials, or even wasted time.

19 comments
Kate
Kate

Okay, I just ordered these, based on your recommendation. I live in the midwest so no one in any car parts store had heard of 'green wiper blades' and they kind of snickered when I asked about it. I hope they're worth the shipping cost.

Tina M
Tina M

Just found your website and love it. I'll have to check out these wiper blades. I'm assuming the contest is over, but if not count me in. We do a lot to recycle, it only goes into the trash can if it can't be composted, recycled, Freecycle/reused. I take public transit to work. We are also working on removing the plastic containers from our kitchen. How the heck we ever thought it was good to microwave food in plastic containers I don't know. And see a video on those floating plastic landfills in the oceans is 100% unacceptable.

rach
rach

these sound pretty great! i definitely want to check them out! :)

~~Rhonda
~~Rhonda

Would love to give these a try! Thanks for hosting a great giveaway! Found your blog yesterday and subbed. Becoming more aware of waste in general, but particularly the hazards of plastics. What have we done to our world?? I've given some thought to reducing waste in car use...we try to combine as many errands as possible in one trip. I never drive over the speed limit. Saves gas and maybe even our lives. :) We don't top off the gas tank to prevent spilling gas. And we check the tire pressure. All easy to do. Wish more people gave it some thought. ~~Rhonda

Beth Terry (the other one)
Beth Terry (the other one)

LOL - Beth - this is a great post. And in Arizona, we don't even think a whole lot about rain... until there's a sudden deluge that floods the roads and scares the snakes. So we routinely have to toss out old cracked wipers - sometimes ones that haven't been used more than a couple of times. The 115º heat just kills'em. This brings up an idea for the summer for you. How about doing a contest for ideas on Re-Purposing plastic? Before we really understood the challenge of plastic, many of us gathered quite a bit of it that now needs to be disposed of. I gave you one idea a few months ago - poke holes in the bottom and sides of plastic drinking bottles. Bury them in your garden with the screw top sticking slightly out of the dirt. Fill them with water. You can "drip water" your garden that way without buying lots of hoses and setting up a complicated system. This also works in the house with your plants. Wonderful way to control watering during your vacation. Just a thought, Beth .-= Beth Terry (the other one)´s last blog ..Finding Sanity in Silence =-.

Andrea
Andrea

Very cool. My car is the elephant in my solar powered living room right now. I'd love to live in a place where I can walk/bike/transit, but for now I guess the little things will have to assuage the guilt...I'll look for Jamak blades next time I need a new pair (every six to twelve months??? Ha!) .-= Andrea´s last blog ..Office for a Day =-.

mudnessa
mudnessa

The blades you're giving away are too small for my car but here are some way I try and "save" in regards to my car. I rarely replace my blades, its been at least 3 years now, I do desperately need new blades but put it off as long as I can. Living in So Cal and not driving much really helps. I also try and combine trips and only go out if I absolutely must. I am still driving the car my parent bought for me when I was 16. They did research to see what would last me a long time and guess they picked wisely, car will be 14 later this year. Not in a very walk/bikeable area which totally sucks. My work is only 5 miles away but I would be putting my life on the line biking to work, not to mention the hills and how out of shape I really am. There is a grocery store 2 blocks away but there isn't a sidewalk all the way there and there is over grown trees/bushes making it so you have to walk into the busy 3 lane each way street. .-= mudnessa´s last blog ..Bottle cap magnets =-.

Sarah
Sarah

Unfortunately, the give away blades are too short for my car, but I'm so happy you shared this with us! I'm in need of new blades since a 24-hr trip through pouring rain back from Florida (to NY state) after a week helping Habitat. (Driving was the cheapest option for 25 cash-strapped college kids). Ways I reduce waste driving: -Biking to places within a few miles, not blocked by mountainous hills. -Shifting into neutral/coasting/shutting off the engine at stop signs or long stop lights. -Not keeping extra stuff in my car, reducing the weight. -Keeping an eye on inflation and fluid levels.

Marissa
Marissa

I would love to be the lucky winner of these. I'm loving the idea of the company taking back the worn wiper blades.

Sandra Lee
Sandra Lee

Just found your blog last night and signed up for a subscription right away. I'm so thrilled by your commitment to de-plastic your life as much as possible and about having a resource to learn all about reducing the use of plastic. Reducing toxic chemicals in my life is part of my journey too. My contribution to reducing waste while driving is to rarely drive, and to have one car instead of two. Thank you for your fabulous contribution to a saner and safer world. .-= Sandra Lee´s last blog ..An exercise in non-meditation =-.

Nick Palmer
Nick Palmer

Whoops HTML error. My words start at "Amen" .-= Nick Palmer´s last blog ..Earth Hour In Jersey – tripping the light fantastic =-.

Nick Palmer
Nick Palmer

It was great to see a manufacturer say According to Al, the best form of recycling is never having to replace a product in the first place. Amen. Durable products are the future - the longer lasting the better. The drawback for manufacturers who plan to operate like Al in the current economic system is that eventually everybody would have long lasting products and the manufacturers would not be able to sell any more. Sounds like a fatal flaw, right? Wrong. Imagine, as a thought experiment, that all products lasted so long that they could be inherited by your children. Once you had them, you wouldn't need to buy them again. All of the work that you would have had to do to purchase and repurchase flimsy goods over and over again would no longer be necessary. That applies to the manufacturer too. He would not need to make and sell so many items to make a living. Material and energy use would plummet but we would still have material goods. It's the same principle as insulating your house really well so you don't need to keep purchasing oil or coal... .-= Nick Palmer´s last blog ..Earth Hour In Jersey – tripping the light fantastic =-.

Carla
Carla

Thank You, Thank you, It just so happens I need a new pair and I will so be buying them from this company. I am not vying for your pair let them go to someone who feels they really need them right now. As, usual your information is wonderful and so helpful. And I passing the info on to friends and acquaintances. Happiness and Peace~ ~~~Carla

Bridget
Bridget

It's definitely a good start; all these little changes will add up to make big differences.

Rob
Rob

WHAT DO I DO TO SAVE WHEN DRIVING? 1- Travel the posted speed limit 2- Don't race the engine 3- Make sure my tires are properly inflated to the right pressure 4- Don't run the AC until me and my dog are dying. Visualize opening the windows instead! That is one crazy wicked rainstorm in that video- never seen rain actually go sideways before. And why is that gal out there standing holding that long rubber tube? .-= Rob´s last blog ..Hey Easy on the Drano!!! =-.

patrick t.
patrick t.

I especially love the non-plastic packaging. That's a great step in the right direction, and proved that the company is paying attention to details in their mission.

Cherie Wilkinson
Cherie Wilkinson

The video isn't working for me. It says it's private and I have to be your friend on yourtube to view it...

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

Eek! Thanks for letting me know. I just fixed that. Try again, okay?