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.

Bicycle Donation and Recycling

Day 155 – I remember getting my first bicycle. I had just made my First Communion and a new bicycle was my big gift. Up until then I was riding my sisters’ old bikes or ones that we had acquired from various family and friends. It was an amazing feeling to have my very own bicycle.

Sadly, there are many children that don’t experience the joy of receiving a new bicycle. They don’t even get the chance to own any kind of bicycle, new or old. Today’s post lists some options for those looking to part with bicycles that have been outgrown or replaced with an upgrade. These bicycles have the potential to bring a great deal of happiness to children and adults, alike.

These are mainly options that can be found in Chicago. However, a simple Google search for bicycle donations in your town or city, can put you on the right track.

  1. Working Bikes – To donate, visit their warehouse/shop at 2434 S. Western Ave. any time during store hours. If the warehouse is too far for you to travel, you may bring your donation to one of their drop-off locations.
  2. The Recyclery – You can email donatebikes@therecyclery.org to schedule a pick-up. You can also drop off bikes directly to the Collection Points listed HERE. They take bicycles in all conditions.
  3. Play It Again Sports – Play It Again Sports will be happy to take your bicycle and they will pay you.

The 47th Ward is collecting bicycles until June 25th. You can drop off bicycles at 4243 N. Lincoln Ave. They are partnering with non-profit bike shops across the city to provide bikes to young Chicagoans who are in need of a workable bike.

Since, many organizations will take bicycles in any condition there is little to no need to recycle bicycles. However, if you have a bicycle that can absolutely not be donated, many scrap metal companies will be happy to take your bicycle.

Tossing your old bicycle is never an option. There is someone out there more than happy to take that bicycle and give it a new life.

Tomorrow, commemorating World Environment Day.

GotSneakers: Recycling shoes and raising funds

Day 151 – On Day 62, I gave a list of options to donate or recycle your shoes. Well today, I have another option for you. This one can bring you a little extra cash.

“At GotSneakers, we’re making it socially and financially rewarding to contribute to a circular economy with our FREE sneaker recycling programs for individual sellers and organizations of all types and sizes. When you join our sneaker recycling community, you will be making a global impact AND you will earn money for every pair of sneakers you contribute.” – GotSneakers

If your an individual seller, hosting a fundraiser, or part of a retail program, GotSneakers can fit your needs. Signup is easy and FREE. Just let GotSneakers know how many bags you need and if you need more they will send more. Once your bags arrive, fill them up with your sneakers (only sneakers), seal the bags and drop them off at either UPS or FedEx. Your prepaid postage will specify as to which service you will need to use.

All sneakers collected are recirculated to people who want quality, reusable footwear at affordable prices or repurposed into new surfaces such as playgrounds and tracks. Each pair will be professionally evaluated by GotSneakers’ trained staff, to determine the quality, style, and brand of each pair of footwear. You can check out the compensation chart HERE.

The Northcenter Neighborhood Association Monthly Recycle Popup, will be collecting sneakers, starting on June 19th. We will be using GotSneakers and hopefully raise a few dollars to put toward our recycling efforts.

Tomorrow, the problem with plastic toys.

Never Go Anywhere Without Your Towel

Day 145“A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value — you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon…” – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Today is Towel Day! I wasn’t sure what that exactly meant. So, I read up on the holiday that has been celebrated for 19 years. Fans of Douglas Adams (English author, screenwriter, essayist, humorist, satirist and dramatist) created the day to honor the beloved author after his untimely death due to a heart attack at the age of 49.

In his book, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (which I have heard of, but have never read), Douglas writes about towels being the most helpful item for an interstellar traveler. So, it made perfect sense to me that I would use today’s post to talk about all the great ways to reuse or repurpose your old towels.

  1. The most obvious reuse option is to turn old towels into cleaning rags.
  2. You could sew numerous towels together to create a large blanket for outdoor use.
  3. Old towels may not be great for drying things, but they are still good for washing things, like the dishes.
  4. Turn them into baby bibs.
  5. Call or email your local animal shelter and see if they could use towels.
  6. Change out your Swiffer pads with pieces from your old towels. Once you’re done cleaning the house, pop them in the washer to be used again. You can’t do that with Swiffer.
  7. Turn your old towels into a knee pad. Whether, you make one for each knee or a large one for both knees, having a little extra cushion while gardening or cleaning, is helpful for the knees.
  8. Use old towels to cut down the cold draft seeping underneath the doors.
  9. Old towels can keep your fragile belongings safe. Whether your moving to a new home or just looking to store a few things away. Towels will help cushion the move.
  10. When the life of the towel has come to the end, the Chicago Textile Recycling Center will take it.

So, don’t go anywhere without your towel. Not only will it help you on an interstellar trip, but they have so many great uses.

Tomorrow, green refrigerator options.

Electronics: Many donation and recycling options

Day 132 – The first personal computer was officially announced in 1957 and cost $55,000. Today, that dollar amount would be equivalent to $460,000. So, it’s crazy to think how inexpensive computers have become. They are so inexpensive that they have become disposable. Apple considers a computer over five years old to be “vintage”. Sadly, with as quickly as technology is advancing, it’s probably more like two to three years before your electronic device is outdated. So, what do we do with all that technology, when something new and better comes along?

For the electronics that are still working, there are places that will use them.

  1. Free Geek – FreeGeek Chicago is a not-for-profit community organization that recycles used computers and parts to provide functional computers, education, internet access and job skills training to those who want them.
  2. The Assistive Technology Exchange Network (ATEN) – ATEN refurbishes and recycles donated computers and distributes them to individuals with disabilities.

There are many other organizations that take usable electronics. Please let me know if you have a favorite organization and I’ll be sure to add them to the list.

Electronics that may or may not work

  1. Best Buy
  2. Chicago Electronic Recycling Program
  3. Ecocell

Once, again there are countless companies and municipalities that will take and recycle your unusable electronics. Some charge a fee, while others do not. The ones I listed here are free of charge.

Many companies have their own take back programs and trade in programs. Apple allows you to trade in old devices for credit toward new devices. Hewlett-Packard also has a recycling program. Check to see if the company that made your device has a take back program, as well.

So, the trash can is never an option when it comes to your outdated and broken electronics. There is always someone willing to take it off your hands.

Tomorrow, recycling options for mattresses.

No One Wants Your Broken Stuff

Day 128 – Many people try to avoid throwing things away. They don’t want to add to the endless piles of trash that end up in the landfill. Unfortunately, the next option (for some) is to donate those items. They get boxed up and dropped off at the nearest donation center. Unfortunately, no one wants your broken stuff and all those “donations” end up exactly where you were hoping they would not, in the landfill.

In a recent NPR article, a Goodwill store spokesperson in New Hampshire was interviewed. She oversees 30 Goodwill stores in New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine. Their trash bill adds up to around $1 million a year with about $13 million pounds of waste. This is just one organization, in only three states. Multiply those numbers by thousands of organizations across the country and you have an astronomical amount of waste. Waste that no one cares about or gives a second thought about, because it’s believed it has all gone to a “good cause.”

“A lampshade, which is stained and disgusting and literally falling apart. There’s a small table missing a leg, cracked purple food-storage containers and a used sponge. They’re just a representative sample of the useless stuff dropped off the day before.” – Heather Steeves (Goodwill spokesperson)

Goodwill and other organizations will try to recycle what they can, but when people are donating, what can only be described as trash, then it becomes very difficult.

On Day 72, I shared a list of over 90 items that Best Buy will take and recycle. The City of Chicago has a Household Chemicals & Computer Recycling Facility that accepts numerous items. Click HERE for the complete list of accepted items. I have shared how to recycle clothes and shoes that are not fit for donation. Sometimes a simple Google search can send you in the right direction when looking for a recycler, because your items are not worth donating.

I saw first hand, when volunteering at Cradles to Crayons, the amount of donated waste. The kids and I were put in the toy section. A majority of the donated toys were not considered acceptable. Games with missing pieces, deflated balls, nonworking electronic toys, dolls and action figures missing limbs, random happy meal toys, were just some of the discarded toys. I ended up coming home with two large boxes of toys that were going to end up in the trash. This was just a two hour shift. I can’t even begin to imagine the amount of toys thrown out on a daily basis. I have purchased a Zero Waste Box from TerraCycle to recycle the unwanted toys. TerraCycle has partnered with Hasbro, V-Tech, Leap Frog, Spin Master and L.O.L. Surprise to recycle their toys. You can always drop any of these toys at the monthly Northcenter Neighborhood Association Recycling Popup.

Heather from Goodwill suggests, “The key question to ask before dropping something off is: If you needed it, would you buy it in this condition?”

Tomorrow, supporting fair trade.

Update: Shoe Collection

Day 122 – Back in March, I collected shoes in any condition. I ended up with 81 pairs of shoes. Footwear of all kinds were left on my doorstep and I needed to decide where they would be going. One thing was for sure, they were not going to end up in a landfill.

Twenty pairs of shoes went to Soles4Soul where they will be reused.

Twenty pairs of shoes went to Nike’s Reuse a Shoe program, where they will be turned into Nike Grind. Nike Grind materials are used to transform community spaces – from basketball courts and playtop surfaces to running tracks and more. 

Forty-one pairs of shoes were recycled through I:CO, who partners with stores like North Face, Levi’s, Forever 21, H&M, Columbia, and Asics.

Next time you are faced with an unwanted pair of shoes, please consider one of these three options. One pair of shoes in the trash may not seem like a big deal, but multiply that by millions (even billions) of people and it really adds up.

Thanks to everyone that participated in my shoe collection!

Tomorrow, my next collection.

Declutter and Get Organized

Day 116 – Today is Get Organized Day! My senior year of high school, I was given the title, “Most Organized”. It wasn’t the most exciting title, but it wasn’t the worst either. I have carried that organizational skill into my adulthood. However, there are times when things fall of the rails and I find myself with a lot of stuff, everywhere.

Women’s Day shared a list of over 100 ways to get organized. Here are 10 tips from the list. I have added an eco-friendly spin on most of them.

  1. Sort your fridge like a grocery store – By organizing your refrigerator you can cut back on food waste.
  2. Pick your favorite cleaning products – No need to have 100 products and all those single-use plastic bottles and make sure those products are environmentally friendly.
  3. Put everything in its place – If there’s no place for it, then it needs to be rehomed.
  4. Get rid of things you never wear – This tip mentions throwing away your stained or ripped clothing. A better option would be to mend or donate to a textile recycler.
  5. Cut down on paper towel use – Start using old rags and t-shirts to help with the dirty work.
  6. Borrow special-use kitchen appliances – Not only will it save you space, but it will be one less thing you have to get rid of when you realize you never use it.
  7. Get rid of makeup you don’t use – Pare down your cosmetics so that it all fits in one portable bag. Recycle the cosmetics you don’t want anymore.
  8. Stay on top of your bills – Make a list of all the bills that need to be paid and check them off as they get paid. Make sure to go paperless.
  9. Get rid of expired beauty products, medicine, and coupons twice a year – When you adjust your clocks each spring and fall, also weed out expired medicine, sunscreen and smoke detector batteries, to name a few.
  10. When you declutter, before tossing anything in the trash, find out if it can be donated or recycled.

Getting things organized can make you feel better. However, throwing all those unwanted items in the trash can really bring down the mood. So, do your research! Here’s a Recycling and Donation Resource to get you started.

Another great option is to hire a professional organizer. He or she will help you get your life in order and can assist you in accomplishing it in an eco-friendly way. For anyone living in the Chicagoland area, Kelly Brask, Certified Professional Organizer, can help bring order to your home and office. Consider hiring Kelly for your next big decluttering task.

Tomorrow, growing a healthy lawn without pesticides.

Find Your Park and Support It!

Day 109 – I love our National Parks! I have only been to a few, but I hope to see as many as I can before leaving this Earth. They are so beautiful and unique in their own ways. They offer a glimpse into the past. A time that was simpler and less chaotic.

This week is National Park Week. It is a time to celebrate the National Parks and support them in any way we can. Whether it’s a visit with the family or a donation made online, the Parks are always in need of support. These are protected lands that we need to make sure stay preserved.

Indian Dunes National Park

In Chicago, we’re not too far from a few National Parks. The Gateway Arch in St. Louis became a National Park on February 22, 2018. The Great Smoky Mountains is only 9 hours from Chicago and is America’s most visited National Park. Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky is home to the world’s longest known cave system. The Isle Royale National Park in Michigan is an isolated island that is far from the sights and sounds of civilization. Only an hour from the city, Indiana Dunes National Park offers so much to its visitors. The amazing views of Lake Michigan atop the sand dunes and 15,000 acres to explore, this National Park should be on every Chicagoan’s “must see” list.

Many of us missed the announcement of our newest National Park on December 27th, 2020. I know I did. West Virginia’s New River Gorge was named the 63rd National Park. The New River is among the oldest rivers on the continent. The park encompasses over 70,000 acres of land along the New River and is rich in cultural and natural history.

So, find your park and consider spending some time in the great outdoors. Your mind, body and soul will thank you for it.

Tomorrow, short educational videos packed with useful information.