Recycling Car Seats

Day 254 – On average, one child will go through three car seats. That ends up being a lot of car seats that need disposal. Over 12 million car seats are disposed of each year in the U.S.

Earth911 has taken the mystery out of recycling your car seat.

Reasons why you would need to dispose of a car seat:

  • The car seat has been recalled for safety reasons.
  • Children have outgrown their car seats.
  • The car seat has expired.
  • The car seat has been in an accident.

If a car seat hasn’t been recalled, expired, or been in an accident and is still in good shape, donating it to someone who can use it is the best choice. The website safeconvertiblecarseats.com has a list of organizations in all 50 states that accept used, non-expired car seats for donation. The listed organizations include children’s hospitals, shelters for families in crisis, and agencies supporting foster families.

Some retailers will take your car seat and recycle it. Target held a two-week car seat recycling event in April 2021. Hopefully, they will continue the program in 2022.

One mail-in option is Clek’s car seat recycling program. They accept any brand of car seat for recycling for a fee. The fees range from roughly $35-50 per car seat. They do offer 10% off of a future purchase of their products. If you’re going to buy one of their car seats anyway, that discount can offset the recycling fee.

Another mail-in option, if you have a Century brand car seat, is TerraCycle’s Century Baby Gear Recycling Program. Although this program is free of charge, only Century brand car seats are eligible.

When your child outgrows their car seat, consider keeping it out of the landfill by looking into one of these many options.

Tomorrow, innovative solutions to plastic pollution.

Medical Supplies: Donation Options

Day 252 – It’s not hard to acquire medical supplies that you end up only using for a short time. You are then faced with either storing them away, throwing them out or finding someone else that may be able to use it. Today’s post gives you a few suggestions on donating your surplus medical supplies.

MedShare

MedShare’s recovery efforts save millions of pounds of surplus medical supplies and equipment from landfills and incinerators that, for various regulatory reasons, hospitals and medical companies must discard. They accept donations of unused, unexpired medical surplus supplies and used biomedical equipment through our hospital recovery program and corporate product donations. To see the complete list of accepted items, click HERE.

MedWish

MedWish International is a not-for-profit organization that saves lives and the environment by repurposing discarded medical supplies and equipment to provide humanitarian aid to people in need. To see list of accepted items, click HERE.

Alliance for Smiles

All over the world children born with cleft lip and palate anomalies suffer physically and emotionally. They may become malnourished and are prone to ear infections and hearing loss. Often times, they experience upper-respiratory problems or speech and dental difficulties; many need multiple operations and long-term treatment.   Alliance for Smiles offers these children and families hope for a bright future. To see the complete list of accepted items, click HERE.

American Medical Resource Foundation

The American Medical Resources Foundation’s mission is to improve health care around the world by donating medical equipment and supplies to hospitals that serve the poor in underdeveloped and developing countries of the world. Click HERE for more information on what items are accepted.

Project C.U.R.E

Project C.U.R.E. is the world’s largest distributor of donated medical equipment and supplies to resource-limited communities across the globe, touching the lives of patients, families, and children in more than 135 countries. For more information on donating supplies, click HERE.

Before tossing your unwanted medical supplies, find out if someone else can use it.

Tomorrow, free stuff at HHW.

Recycle Your Electronics & Save the Great Apes

Day 235Eco-Cell collects and recycles electronics and those efforts help save the gorillas and chimpanzees in the Congo.

How you ask? I’ll let Eco-Cell explain.

Electronics are connected to apes via an ore called Coltan (columbite-tantalite\tantalum). Tantalum coats the capacitors inside gadgets which makes them energy efficient. This ore is found in great quantity in the Congo, home to the critically endangered gorilla and chimpanzee. These species are being killed by rebel bands mining Coltan. The U.N. has reported that in the past five years the eastern lowland gorilla population in the Congo has declined 90%. Recycling your cell phones with ECO-CELL helps save these animals by reducing the demand for Coltan and by providing funds for our partners like the Cincinnati ZooThe Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund Intl. and the Jane Goodall Institute who are actively engaged in protecting these species.

Eco-Cell collects the following:

  1. cell phones
  2. smartphones
  3. iPods
  4. iPads
  5. tablets
  6. Apple/Android watches
  7. bluetooth
  8. GPS
  9. MP3 players
  10. e-readers
  11. digital cameras
  12. handheld gaming systems & accessories

Eco-Cell would be a great partner for your organization or school’s next fundraiser. The process is very straightforward: collect as many electronic gadgets as possible and send them to ECO-CELL (Don’t worry they pay shipping). When the phones arrive at ECO-CELL, they determine their reuse\resale value. If they can be reused they resell them and pass as much money back to you as possible. If your gadgets are obsolete they recycle them properly and pay you their recycle value. After they process your shipment they follow it up with an itemized statement of your order and a check within 30-45 days.

You can also drop-off your electronics on your next trip to the zoo. Brookfield Zoo and Lincoln Park Zoo participate in the program. Check to see if your local zoo is part of the program.

Recycling e-waste, saving the great apes and raising funds for your organization, it’s the trifecta. You just can’t lose.

Tomorrow, bus stops to the rescue to help save the pollinators.

World’s First Second-Hand Mall

Day 227 – Imagine a mall full of stores offering merchandise that is all second-hand. Aisles and shelves full of items given up by their original owners, but still in good condition and ready to be useful for someone else. The U.S. has stores, like Goodwill, that offer second-hand items for the fraction of their original cost. However, in Sweden, they have created an entire mall dedicated to keeping reusable items out of the landfill.

In Eskilstuna, Sweden, a one-of-kind shopping experience is happening at ReTuna. Not only are they selling second-hand merchandise, but also upcyled items, as well. Filled with 14 second-hand shops, a conference space, and an eco-friendly cafe, ReTuna is a shopping space, but also a place of education and inspiration. It houses a design school, where students learn how to incorporate recycled materials into their designs. There are also art installations (made from recycled materials) which fill the space between the boutiques and cafe. Shops in the mall offer fashion, children’s goods, technology and more.

What makes ReTuna different is that it’s located next to the local recycling center, where the goods to be repurposed are collected. The collection station, Returen, receives, sorts through and distributes the goods to the appropriate stores inside the mall according to the assortment description in every shop’s business plan. The shop then sorts through the goods again, and repairs and upcycles things, prices them and puts them up for sale.

In 2018, Retuna sold second-goods worth $1.3 million. If Sweden can do it, there is no reason why this business model couldn’t work everywhere. It’s not only good for business, but it’s good for the planet!

To watch a video about ReTuna, click HERE.

Tomorrow, recycling your mattress just got easier.

World Elephant Day

Day 224 – When we think of elephants, I know many of us picture them in far off lands, in parts of the world we’ll never have the chance to visit. So, when it comes to saving them, we might think there is no opportunity to help these big, beautiful animals. Thankfully, the organizers of World Elephant Day has shared a list of ways in which we can help protect these magnificent creatures.

  1. Do not buy ivory or other wildlife products. Be an elephant aware consumer. Only 12 states have banned the sale of ivory. In 2016, the U.S. passed a near total ban on commercial trade in African elephant ivory but states regulate commerce within their borders. The U.S. is one of the largest importers of wildlife products, including trophies of animals killed in hunts and products made from skins of endangered species.
  2. Study elephants in their “keystone” role in the environment and interrelationships with plants and other animals because all of nature is interconnected. As the largest of all land mammals, elephants play an important role in balancing natural ecosystems. They trample forests and dense grasslands, making room for smaller species to co-exist. Elephants also create water holes used by other wildlife as they dig dry riverbeds when rainfall is low. Herds travel over vast rangelands, and they disperse seeds in their dung, which helps generate new green growth.
  3. Learn about and support organizations that are working to protect habitat for wild elephants and finding solutions for human-elephant conflict. Elephants are increasingly being crowded out of their habitats. Humans are encroaching these lands for farming and infrastructural development, which leaves elephants with small patches of disconnected land.
  4. Support organizations that are working to stop the illegal poaching and trade of elephant ivory and other wildlife products. Few people know that 96 elephants are poached each day. At this rate they will be extinct in the wild within a decade. Losing these important ecosystem engineers will be of extreme detriment to the environment and beyond. If the elephants go extinct, entire ecosystems could follow.
  5. Support organizations that are building natural sanctuaries and alternative habitat for domesticated elephants to live freely. The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee provide captive elephants with individualized care, the companionship of a herd, and the opportunity to live out their lives in a safe haven dedicated to their well-being.
  6. Support healthy, alternative, sustainable livelihoods for people who have traditionally relied on elephants, wild animals and natural resources. Learn about indigenous cultures that have traditionally lived in harmony with elephants.
  7. Visit elephants in countries where they live in the wild – tourism benefits the economy, provides needed jobs, deters poachers and abuse, and gives you the opportunity to experience the beauty, intelligence, and emotional capacity of these magnificent giants. Here is a list of the 10 best places to see elephants. I
  8. f you wish to experience elephants in their natural environment, choose eco-tourism operators who support local elephant conservation projects and who treat elephants with respect and dignity.
  9. Be aware of elephant habitat. Do not buy coffee that is not fair-trade or shade-grown, nor products with unsustainable palm-oil. These commercial crops are grown in plantations that have decimated elephant habitats. Only buy wood products that have been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which promotes responsible management of the world’s forests – the natural habitat for elephants and other wildlife.
  10. Use your love of elephants and World Elephant Day, August 12, to start a conversation with the next person you meet.

We can not all be like Kelly Lyee Chigumbura, a member of the all female wildlife ranger group, called Akashinga, ‘the Brave Ones’ in Shona. Chigumbura now spends her days protecting her country’s most vulnerable citizens: the wildlife. “When I manage to stop poachers, I feel accomplished,” she says. “I want to spend my whole life here on this job, arresting poachers and protecting animals.”

So, on this World Elephant Day, consider helping these precious Pachyderms.

Tomorrow, Clorox wipes that are good for the planet.

Recycling Cooking Oil

Day 220 – My family enjoys french fries. For the longest time we would bake them in the oven. However, once we were introduced to fries cooked in a fryer, we definitely preferred them over the oven baked. Large bottles of cooking oil were purchased and used numerous times. However, once the cooking oil was no longer good to fry with, we were not sure how to dispose of it. Capping it and tossing it in the garbage did not seem like a good solution. Last year, I looked into the Loyola University School of Environmental Sustainability’s cooking oil recycling program. I was disappointed to find out that the program was on pause due to the pandemic.

Well, I’m happy to say that Loyola Biodiesel Program is back in business.

The Biodiesel Program accepts donations of used cooking oil. If you have recently deep-fried a turkey, or have a jar of expired oil…we’ll take it! All vegetable oil (including peanut oil) donated to Loyola will be turned into clean-burning, renewable fuel: biodiesel. We do NOT accept solid fats, petroleum oil products, bacon grease, or pan drippings.” – LBP

Loyola’s student-run enterprise is the first and only school operation licensed to sell biodiesel in the United States, and is a certified green business with the Illinois Green Business Association.

To donate your oil please drop-off your oil in sealed containers at the School of Environmental Sustainability:

6349 N. Kenmore Ave. Chicago, IL 60660

Look for the Oil Donation sign on the left-hand side as you enter the lobby. If the door is locked, please leave your oil in a sealed container outside the door and off to the side so it does not block the door. Thank you!

To find the closest oil recycling near you, click HERE.

Even though we have a place to recycle our oil, we are strongly considering purchasing an air fryer. Not needing to purchase all that oil in plastic bottles would be a nice thing to avoid. Not to mention, I can only imagine having less fried food in our diet would be more healthy.

Tomorrow, keeping the planet in mind while gathering up those back to school supplies.

Digs with Dignity: Helping people exiting homelessness

Day 219Digs with Dignity is an organization that works with local social agencies to help individuals and families exiting homelessness by providing them furnishings and much needed household items.

Here’s how they do what they do:

  1. They collect gently used home furnishings from the community and store them in their warehouse.
  2. They work with Chicago-based social workers to identify a family transitioning out of homelessness.
  3. They work with the family (or individual) and get to know what their likes and dislikes are, so they can better find the furnishings that will make their new space feel like home.
  4. They design the space from top to bottom with the help of volunteers and their designer.
  5. They identify which pieces from the warehouse will bring the design to life. Everything that they receive from donors is either used, fixed, or recycled.
  6. Then, with the help of movers and volunteers, they load up a moving truck and get to work — welcoming the family into their newly furnished home in a matter of hours.

Digs for Dignity helped their first family on October 25, 2019, and in 2020, serviced 21 additional families. They are actively building out their network of partners and supporters and have goals to fill the homes and provide support for 40 families in 2021.

The Northcenter Neighborhood Association Recycle Popup started collecting metal-based cookware and bakeware, as part of the Calphalon Cooking Tools Recycling Program through TerraCycle. We started accepting items during our July popup and received many pots and pans in very good condition. So, we will be donating any and all pots, pans and bakeware that we receive in good condition to Digs with Dignity.

If you would like to make a donation and there are many ways you can do that, just click HERE.

There’s no better feeling than being a part of making someone’s house feel like a home.

Tomorrow, a place to recycle your old cooking oil.

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.

Eyewear: Options for donating and recycling

Day 157 – About 60% of the world’s population needs some kind of corrective lenses. That ends up being a lot of eyeglasses and contacts being worn and eventually tossed. Thankfully, there are places to donate your eyewear and recycle your contacts.

Eyeglasses

The organization you donate to will inspect the glasses, determine the prescription, and clean the eyewear so it can be used again. Your old glasses will then get matched to someone who needs them — around the world or in your neighborhood.

  1. Lions Club International – They operate a network of collection boxes and Lions Eyeglass Recycling Centers, where volunteers process donated glasses for distribution through medical missions around the world.
  2. New Eyes – A United Way agency, buys new glasses for people in need in the United States. It also accepts, processes and distributes gently used donated eyeglasses to people overseas. New Eyes accepts used prescription glasses, reading glasses, sunglasses, safety glasses and children’s glasses in good to excellent condition.
  3. OneSight -An independent nonprofit that has helped more than 9 million people in 46 countries. They set up permanent vision centers and hold charitable clinics around the world. While OneSight dispenses only new eyewear to patients, they accept donations of used eyewear and send it to Lions Clubs International in support of their recycling programs.
  4. Eyes of Hope – Vision insurer VSP Global provides access to no-cost eye care and eyewear for more than 2 million people around the world. They accept donations of new and gently used eyewear.

Contacts

You can recycle your contacts and their packaging through TerraCycle’s Free Recycling Program. Just type in your zip code and you will be given a list of participating eye care facilities that will take your used contact lenses and packaging.

You can drop off your old eyeglasses and used contacts at the Northcenter Neighborhood Association’s Recycle Popup. Eyeglasses will be donated to the Lions Club and contacts will be recycled through TerraCycle. Our next popup will be on Saturday, June 19th.

So, on this National Eyewear Day, consider passing on those old eyeglasses to someone in need and give them the gift of good eyesight.

Tomorrow, keeping our food safe, locally and globally.

#GenerationRestoration

Day 156 – REIMAGINE. RECREATE. RESTORE.

“This is our moment. We cannot turn back time. But we can grow trees, green our cities, rewild our gardens, change our diets and clean up rivers and coasts. We are the generation that can make peace with nature. Let’s get active, not anxious. Let’s be bold, not timid. Join #GenerationRestorationWorld Environment Day

The theme of this year’s World Environment Day is Ecosystem Restoration. Pakistan will act as global host of the day. World Environment Day 2021 will see the launch of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.

“Ecosystem restoration means assisting in the recovery of ecosystems that have been degraded or destroyed, as well as conserving the ecosystems that are still intact. Restoration can happen in many ways – for example through actively planting or by removing pressures so that nature can recover on its own. It is not always possible – or desirable – to return an ecosystem to its original state. We still need farmland and infrastructure on land that was once forest, for instance, and ecosystems, like societies, need to adapt to a changing climate. Between now and 2030, the restoration of 350 million hectares of degraded terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems could generate US$9 trillion in ecosystem services. Restoration could also remove 13 to 26 gigatons of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.”UN Decades on Ecosystem Restoration

Scientists say these next ten years will count most in the fight to avert climate change and the loss of millions of species. Here are ten actions in the strategy of the UN Decade that can build a #GenerationRestoration.

  1. Empower a global movement – Groups and individuals can get informed about restoration opportunities in their area. They can join an initiative already underway or start their own.
  2. Finance restoration on the ground – Governments, international lenders, development agencies and private business will all have to ramp up their support. Individuals can consider giving a donation, their time or their expertise to a worthy initiative.
  3. Set the right incentives – In the long-term, healthier ecosystems can produce bigger harvests, more secure incomes and a healthier environment for people. Being a leader on restoration needs to be rewarded and not punished.
  4. Celebrate leadership -The UN Decade will celebrate leadership and encourage others to step up. Just like Indigenous peoples have acted as defenders of their ecosystems for generations., we too, need to protect our lands.
  5. Shift behaviors – Deforestation, the depletion of fish stocks and the degradation of agricultural soils are all caused by global consumption patterns. The UN Decade will work with all partners to identify and encourage restoration-friendly consumption.
  6. Invest in research – Scientific understanding of how to restore and adapt ecosystems is still developing. Considerable investments are needed to identify the best practices to restore our planet – one plot at a time.
  7. Build up capacity – As a priority, the UN Decade’s strategy seeks to build the capacity of marginalized groups that stand to lose most from the continued destruction of ecosystems – such as indigenous peoples, women and youth to take an active role in restoration.
  8. Celebrate a culture of restoration – Shifting from plundering the planet to healing it is a cultural challenge. The UN Decade’s strategy therefore calls on artists, storytellers, producers, musicians and connectors to join the #GenerationRestoration.
  9. Build up the next generation – Education for restoration will turn today’s children into ecosystem ambassadors, provide skills for sustainable jobs and ensure that the UN Decade’s achievements far outlive its timeframe.
  10. Listen and learn – The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration wants to hear from you. Connect with them on social media and be sure to use #GENERATIONRESTORATION

There is a lot of work to be done and no one person or organization can do it alone. We all have to join forces and work together to protect the planet, our home.

Tomorrow, options to donate and recycle your eyewear.