Is Buying Recycled Plastic Eco-Friendly?

I have been getting some amazing questions from readers. This past week Meaghan emailed in with a question about recycled plastic.

"Even though I rarely purchase bottled water anymore, there's a bottled water company that I still find myself purchasing from once in a while.

They're probably the most ethical bottled water company to exist. They donate a portion of their profits to water charities, they have sustainable practices in how they obtain their water, they have shipping policies that reduce their carbon footprint, and they only use recycled plastic for their bottles.

Is buying recycled plastic eco-friendly? from

They're not the only company I've come across lately that have good business practices, but use recycled plastic for their products. 

My question is, am I doing the right thing by supporting companies that only use recycled plastics? By buying from them, am I showing that there is a demand for recycled plastic, which would help increase the commodity price, and in turn make it more worthwhile for recycling companies?

Or by supporting them, am I just increasing the demand for plastic in general?

I've tried to research this myself, but I'm having trouble finding concrete answers. I was just curious what a fellow zero-waster's opinion on this was." 

This is a question I've also asked myself, and honestly there aren't going to be any concrete answers. This is one of those very gray situations similar to the question about recycling Michael asked a couple of weeks ago. 

Now, I know this isn't the question, but I'm really curious which company uses 100% recycled plastic for their bottles? I've been looking online, and I'm going to assume it's Nika Water? 

I couldn't find anything stating where they source their water, but if all of their information is true they seem like a really good company to support. 

According to the website they donate all of their profits which is certainly a noble cause. 

Bottled water in itself is not evil or bad. We really need bottled water in times of crisis, the problem is when it becomes an everyday accessory. 

I also don't think plastic is bad. Plastic is amazing and has allowed us to make a lot of advancements as a society. The problem is how we're using it. A material designed to last forever, shouldn't be used for items that last only seconds. 

Obviously the best thing to do is to have your own bottle with you and then pop into a cafe, restaurant, or gas station to have it filled when you're out. 

But, if that weren't an option, I'd say supporting a company like this is a good thing. It's much better than supporting Nestle. 

I also want to talk about this question at the larger scale. It is always better to buy products made with recycled plastic. 

Are you increasing the demand for plastic overall? Yes. 

But, you're also increasing the demand for recycled plastic which is an important part of recycling. Are you really recycling if you don't support companies that are making products from recycled materials? 

Right now the demand for recycled plastic is low like really, really low. 

Creating a demand in the US for recycled plastic might be able to help with the current recycling ban imposed by China. 

Environmental issues aside, plastic isn't great for our health. I'm curious if the plastic is still a pure HDPE or LDPE or if it's mixed? 

Most recycled plastics are mixed, plastic number 7, after they're recycled, making them pretty much impossible to recycle. 

It's a tough question to answer, that can really only be determined in a case by case basis. You have to go with the best solution in the moment. 

Being educated on the issues to make an informed decision is 90% of the battle. It sounds like you're already there! 

On whole, I'd say recycled plastic is definitely better than virgin plastic. 

What do you think? Do you agree with me?