An Inside Look at S.C.A.R.C.E.

Day 169 – On Day 48, I wrote about SCARCE ( School & Community Assistance for Recycling and Composting Education). They have been around for 31 years and are making a difference in their community and countless others in the state of Illinois and beyond.

The tour started in the area designated for teachers and non-profits. There was an amazing collection of text books, workbooks, reading books and supplies for the classroom. Teachers can take a box supplied by SCARCE and fill it up with the items they need. Each box only costs $5.

We then moved on to area where they accept all their donations. I have been on the other side of the door, dropping off items collected at the Northcenter Neighborhood Association Recycle Popup. It was interesting to see how they handled such a large volume of donations. The main ingredients to their success are volunteers and major organizational skills. There is a place for every item they receive. If they don’t have a place, they will look for one. If they don’t accept an item you are looking to part with, they will help you find where that item can go. If it exists, SCARCE will most likely know about it.

Next to the donation drop-off area, is a section of the building that absolutely blew my mind. I was not impressed by the actual space, but by what SCARCE was preventing from entering the landfill. Huge boxes of brand new books, box after box. Books that would have been tossed out because they were not purchased at Target or Walmart (or similar stores). Thankfully, one of the companies responsible for taking back books that were not bought, decided that it would be better to donate the books than it would be to throw them out. To think, this is a normal practice, carried out by countless other companies. Now, some of those books will make it into the hands of kids that need them most.

We were shown a room where they film their educational webinars and podcast. It was then on to a large room, where they conduct their onsite educational programs. Unfortunately, with the pandemic, they have not had a chance to really use the space. However, with restrictions lifting, they are excited to start inviting back groups. Students, mom groups, scout troops and various other organizations can learn about a variety of environmental topics during the classes. Everything from renewable energy, importance of rain barrels, effects of erosion, composting and recycling are covered, along with so much more!

The last stop was the scarce-ly used books and records section. The public is welcome to peruse this area, for LP records, CDs/DVDs, and YA/adult fiction and non-fiction books. The collection is quite expansive.

It’s crazy to think that there are not more organizations in the state or even the country like SCARCE. They get donations from all over the country and even outside the country. As Beverly (staff member and daughter of the founder of SCARCE, Kay McKeen) said during the tour, “What we do here is not rocket science. This could be replicated around the country and the world.”

Thankfully, SCARCE exists and continues to make the world a better place. As they stress in their message to all the people they help and educate, “If everyone did a little to help the environment, then it would add up to be a very significant difference.”

Tomorrow, environmentally friendly bug spray.

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