Even Wind Energy has Waste

Day 167 – When we think of renewable energy sources, we usually think of clean, waste free options. Sadly, even sustainable energy sources can create waste. According to a study by University of Cambridge (2017), turbine blades are set to account for 43 million tons of waste by 2050. Most blades end up in landfills, because they are hard to recycle.

Thankfully, wind turbine maker Vestas, unveiled new technology which it says enables wind turbine blades to be fully recycled, avoiding the dumping of old blades. Using the new technology the glass or carbon fiber is separated from the resin and then chemicals further separate the resin into base materials, that are “similar to virgin materials” that can then be used for construction of new blades. 

The project aims to develop the technology for industrial scale production within three years and also sees potential for the technology to be used for airplane and car components.

If we are to fully embrace a world where renewable energy sources are common place, we need to start finding ways to recycle all the materials involved in harnessing these sources of energy. Sending turbine blades and solar panels to the landfill will not help our situation.

Tomorrow, checking to see if your alderperson is doing his/her part in protecting the environment.

Sustainable Phone Cases

Day 164 – Our household was in need of a couple new phone cases. There were numerous options for environmentally friendly phone cases. We decided to go with Pela.

Here are a few of the reasons we decided to purchase Pela phone cases.

  1. Their cases are 100% compostable. They will completely break down in 3 to 6 months, in proper composting conditions.
  2. They are Climate Neutral Certified. They offset and reduce all of their greenhouse gas emissions.
  3. They are a certified B-Corporation. B-Corporations have met the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.
  4. They are a member of 1% for the Planet. They take 1% of their profits and donate to environmental organizations.
  5. Pela’s 360 program will take your old phone case (from another brand) for FREE to recycle or upcycle it for you and if it’s an old Pela case, they’ll upcycle it into a new Pela product or compost it for you.
  6. Pela offers a Screen Protection Guarantee Policy on almost all of their phone cases.

Pela also has Habitat, which offers a line of plastic free personal hygiene products. They also created Lomi, a countertop composter. Pela has a line of plastic free pet care products called Barxby. They also have a line of compostable sunglasses and blue light glasses, Pela Vision.

If you end up switching to a more sustainable phone case and the company does not offer to recycle your old case, be sure to check out TerraCycle’s PopSockets Recycling Program. Through this program you can recycle phone cases. You can also drop off your old phone cases at the Northcenter Neighborhood Association’s Recycle Popup. Our next popup is on June 19th.

We look forward to the arrival of our new environmentally friendly phone cases. They should be arriving any day!

Tomorrow, our first farmer’s market experience.

Children’s Clothing: Grow. Recycle. Repeat.

Day 162 – On Day 61, I listed some options for clothes that have been worn out and are not suitable for donation. There are numerous places that will take and recycle your well lived clothes. Today, I wanted to include another option for you.

Carter’s has partnered with TerraCycle to recycle your child’s worn out clothing. Any non-donatable baby & kid clothing (newborn – size 14) brands are welcome. However, no shoes or accessories, at this time.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Sign up for the program. If you don’t have a TerraCycle account yet, create one here! To earn reward points and ensure your points can be tracked and awarded, use the email address on your Carter’s Rewarding Moments account. (Take a peek at your Carter’s account or sign up to be a member  here.)
  2. Fill a box with the baby and kids clothes you don’t plan to hand down or donate.
  3. Log into your account, download and print your FREE shipping label.
  4. Seal your box, affix the printed shipping label and drop it off at any UPS location.

Be sure to ship when your box is full to minimize the transportation carbon footprint for this program. Be sure the clothes are dry. Once collected, the clothing is separated by fabric type, shredded, and recycled into materials that are used for stuffing in workout equipment and furniture, as well as for home insulation.

So, there is no reason to throw out your child’s old clothes if they can not be donated. Those torn pants and stained shirts can be given a new life.

Tomorrow, the advantages to wildland farming.

Random Acts of Green

Day 161 – I can only hope that this blog has brought some people a few good ideas and a little inspiration when it comes to living a more environmentally friendly life. I am just one of thousands blogs/websites that offer helpful information. Today, I wanted to share one of those thousands.

They may be located in Canada, but their message is for the world to hear. Random Acts of Green is a climate action community where everyone is empowered to take action together and promote environmental sustainability. Their mission is to prove that we can all make changes that add up to make a big collective impact. They are dedicated to encouraging and motivating people to choose greener choices.

They offer membership to businesses and individuals. However, information on their blog is free to everyone.

You could read about various topics, all focused on sustainability and the environment.

  1. 15 Sustainable Products to Try
  2. How Does Paint Get Recycled
  3. 8 Best Upcycling Garden Ideas for an Eco-friendly Outdoors
  4. It’s Time to Breakup with Plastic
  5. 9 Ways to Extend the Lifespan of Your Food and How You Can Use Up Everything

A little reading can lead to some action that can result in significant changes in helping the planet. Take a little time to educate yourself on how you can make a difference.

Tomorrow, a great option to recycle those well used children clothing.

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.

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.

From Plastic Toys to Children’s Furniture

Day 153 – Co-founders Vanessa Yuan and Joris Vanbriel started ecoBirdy (Certified B-Corporation), a Belgium company that recycles old toys into furniture, as a way to reduce plastic waste. ecoBirdy collects toys from schools and recycling centers.

Check out the VIDEO to see how they do it.

“Recycled plastic products are usually recognized as being greyish, dullish and not very attractive. Our aim was to change this, and make something colorful out of the colorful plastic waste. Following an in-depth two-year study period, ecoBirdy created a special production process that gives the characteristic look to its products. The material resulting from this unique production process we named ecothylene®. Due to accurate sorting and using state-of-the-art technology, we are able to transform post-consumer plastic waste into high-grade raw material. The patented technology features integrated material separation and an improved binding formula for polymers. The result is that no pigments or new plastics need to be added. Making ecothylene® is significantly more eco-friendly than most recycling procedures for plastics.” – ecoBirdy

The recycled plastic used for the production of ecothylene® is 100% recyclable. Which means that ecothylene® can easily be recycled again.

The plastic waste goes through several stages.

  1. The collected plastic waste is brought to our partner, a professional recycling center.
  2. Every single object is manually checked.
  3. The volume is ground to smaller fragments and washed.
  4. Precise sorting is conducted automatically.
  5. Lab quality control is carried out.

Throughout the whole production process, the material is checked by people as well as machines to avoid contamination. 

The end product is safe and stylish children’s furniture that is helping keep plastic toys out of the landfill. We can only hope that more manufacturers will see the benefits of using recycled materials. As consumers, we can also help by supporting companies that put the planet first, but also by making good decisions when purchasing products. All you have to ask, “Does this product have a negative effect on the planet?”

Tomorrow, celebrating World Bicycle Day.

Plastic Toys: It’s not all fun and games

Day 152 – One of my least favorite toys that I had to assemble for my children was a kitchen. A rather large, plastic kitchen. All the pieces were attached and had to be separated before they could be reassembled to resemble a kitchen set. I did it all by myself on a Christmas Eve and it was absolutely the worst. However, the kids loved it! And when it’s all said and done, isn’t that what it’s all about?

Well, I sure drank the KoolAid on that misconception. Most of us don’t give much thought about the cheap, plastic toys we purchase for our children or young people in our lives. Our main concern is usually their happiness. So, we spend our money on toys that will most likely not even last a year and will end up in the trash.

About 90% of today’s toys are made from plastic. Sadly, most of the plastic is not recyclable. Think about the plastic toys you played with as a kid. Those same toys are still sitting in a landfill somewhere and will be there for centuries to come.

So, what are our options when looking to purchase toys?

Find toys made from other materials, like wood, cotton, metal or natural rubber

Companies like Big Future Toys and Begin Again Toys are finding other ways to produce fun and entertaining toys without the use of plastic.

Find toys made from recycled material

Companies like Green Toys and Luke’s Toy Factory are using recycled material to create their toys.

Find toys with take back programs

Numerous toy manufacturers are taking back their toys. If you have toys that have reached the end of their life, from any of the following companies, you can ship them, at no cost, to be recycled. Be sure to check out the list of accepted toys for each program.

Hasbro

V-Tech

Leap Frog

SpinMaster

Matel

Lego

*The Northcenter Neighborhood Association Recycle Popup collects all the toys listed here. The next popup is June 19th.

Find alternatives to toys

Another great option to avoid plastic toys, is to give the gift of an experience. Maybe it’s a trip to the bowling alley, or the arcade. A movie with all the popcorn and candy you can eat, a hike in a beautiful wooded area, or a day at the waterpark, would all make awesome gifts.

So, the next time you are faced with the challenge of finding that perfect gift consider avoiding the cheap plastic toys. There are so many great alternatives out there. You just need to look.

Tomorrow, a company that has found a purpose for the plastic from discarded children toys.

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.

Footwear: Sustainable options

Day 150 – If you read this title and thought I would be sharing a variety of footwear options, like heels, boots or nice dress shoes, sorry. My footwear consists of gym shoes. Thankfully, I do not have many opportunities to wear anything different. So, today’s post is a list of sustainable gym shoes, also known as sneakers. What? Sustainable gym shoes? Yes, they do exist and they just might find their way on to your feet in the future. While researching for this post, I purchased my first eco-friendly gym shoe. I can’t wait for my new shoes to arrive!

This list consists of shoes good for running, while other are better for walking. It is by no means a complete list. There are many sustainable brands out there. Which is a good thing. I’m always a bit shocked by the price of athletic shoes. The cost of these sustainable brands are comparable to non-sustainable brands.

Allbirds – Allbirds uses wool from merino wool. With fibers that are 20% the diameter of human hair, superfine merino wool is breathable, temperature-regulating, and moisture-wicking, all without that irritating scratchiness. Shoelaces are made from recycled plastic bottles. Castor bean oil helps increase the natural content in their insoles. Their packaging is made from 90% recycled cardboard. They are a B-Corporation. They offset all emissions to operate as a carbon neutral business.

Adidas & Parley -Adidas has partnered with Parlay, whose technology turns plastic into high-performance fabrics. Adidas has a goal to use no virgin polyester by 2024. They have created a line of shoes and apparel. Adidas also has a take back program, which will recycle material from old shoes to be used in their new shoes.

Merrell – Merrell is beginning to incorporate more sustainable practices into their shoe making process. Instead of using virgin polyester, they are using material created from plastic bottles. They are incorporating post-industrial scrap rubber into the soles of some of their shoes (Gridway collection). They use EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate) from the midsole manufacturing process in a variety of their shoes.

Newton Running – Boulder, Colorado-based Newton Running is the leader in performance running shoes that promote gait efficiency for people at all levels of the sport, from first-time 5k runners to seasoned marathoners. In addition to its devotion to help people run better, Newton Running is committed to corporate responsibility through sustainability efforts and through the support of numerous charitable organizations and has been nationally recognized for these efforts.

Icebug – Since 2019, Icebug is the first climate positive outdoor footwear brand. From 2020 onwards, they’re offsetting 200% of carbon emissions caused. They are a 1% for the Planet member. They have reduced the number of different materials they use and switched to less environmentally harmful alternatives. Whenever it’s possible, they use recycled material.

Nothing New – With every pair of sneakers produced, 5.6 plastic bottles are repurposed & 160 gallons of water are saved. They are committed to purchasing “carbon offsets” from verified emissions reduction projects to offset the emission created from shipping their shoes. Their shoes are made from 100% sustainable materials. They offer a take back program, where you send your shoes back to Nothing New, they’ll pay for shipping and give you $20 off your next purchase.

Arbor Collective – Arbor’s footwear collection is produced from low-emissions factories and features repurposed materials like their Rubber Regrind and recycled materials such as their polyester fabrics and paper packaging. With every purchase of Arbor footwear, a portion of the proceeds is donated towards their Returning Roots program, which assists in the preservation of the Koa forests in Hawaii.

SAOLA – Depending on the style, each pair of SAOLA shoes contains between 3 and 7 recycled PET bottles. SAOLA insoles and many of the shoes’ outsoles are made with recycled Algae Foam. SAOLA has partnered with the team at Bloom Foam to harvest harmful algae and create eco-friendly, bio-sourced materials for the insoles and outsoles of their shoes. They use organic cotton for their shoelaces. Pesticides and chemical fertilizers are replaced by natural compost, and this cotton requires half as much water as traditional cotton. SAOLA is also a member of 1% for the Planet.

I’m very excited for my SAOLA shoes to arrive! This company is super impressive, the shoes look good and the price fit my budget. Looking forward to taking another step to helping the planet.

Tomorrow, another great option for recycling your sneakers.