Using discarded plastics, bamboo waste, even broken refrigerators as materials, sustainability-minded makers are creating guilt-free, gorgeous patio furniture and accessories.

recycled outdoor furniture Loll designs at auto camp Joshua tree
Courtesy of Loll Designs and Autocamp
Recycled outdoor furniture from Loll Designs at Autocamp in Joshua Tree

We’re not here to remind you that a very small percentage of the plastic you deposit into the blue bin every week is actually recycled. We’re here to inspire you—and show you what’s possible when innovation, design, and sustainability converge and make beautiful things possible.

Consider recycled furniture, for example. The list of “pros” around purchasing these virtuously made pieces is much longer than the singular, perceived “con,” which is that it often looks recycled, and not very appealing to some. But a forward-thinking group of furniture and accessories designers around the globe are working hard to change our perception of what recycled plastic looks like, and coming up with great ideas to up your outdoor entertaining game in the process.

We’re thinking that if one guy can come up with a way to turn an old Frigidaire into the coolest chair you’ve ever seen, we can put our collective heads together to come up with a way to reduce the amount of single-use plastic we discard every day.

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Here are a few of our favorites:

Emeco Stackable Recycled Dining Chair

Emeco, an American brand based in Pennsylvania, started repurposing salvaged aluminum and turning it into cool chairs for the U.S. Navy back in 1944 as a wartime necessity. Now the company sees taking scrap plastic, which would otherwise end up in oceans and landfills, and molding it into equally cool outdoor furniture as a planetary necessity.

Kooij Chubby Chair

The Chubby Chair designed by Dirk van der Kooij gets major props for ingenious, “out there” materials sourcing. Its undulating form is produced by a 3-D printer, using the chipped parts of discarded refrigerators as its raw materials.

Fab Habitat Outdoor Rug

Recycled rug makers at New Jersey-based Fab Habitat have been doing their part to prevent some of the 14 billion pounds of trash that are dumped into the ocean annually from polluting the water. They turn recycled plastic bottles into durable fibers and then weave them into beautiful patterns using fair trade principles at Indian factories.

Ames Caribe Chair and Cocktail Table

German brand Ames combines traditional weaving techniques with recycled plastic string to create playful, Caribbean-influenced outdoor furniture that’s as durable as it is colorful.

Gusto Recycled Bamboo Plates by Ekobo

Ekobo, based in France, uses the vegetal waste produced by manufacturing chopsticks to create gorgeous, colorful, shatter-proof dishware ideal for outdoor entertaining.

Loll Adirondack Chair

In their Duluth, Minnesota, factory, Loll designs builds durable, sustainable outdoor furniture from plastic sheets made from recycled milk jugs. You may have spotted their sleek and colorful designs at your favorite environmentally conscious hotel or glamping hub, like Autocamp in Joshua Tree.

PET Lamp Pendant Light

PET Lamp is based in Madrid but employs artisans in Ethiopia, Chile, Colombia, Thailand, and Ghana to weave statement-making lampshades made of recycled plastic and other sustainable, repurposed fibers. Buy one, or splurge on a cluster to hang over your (covered, weather-protected) patio table.

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