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.

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.

Earth Day: Celebrating today and everyday

Day 112 – Earth Day is 51 years old, today! Now more than ever, we need to prioritize our commitment to the planet and learn to celebrate Earth Day, everyday. We need to take action, whether it be large or small, on a daily basis. It is going to take a group effort to make the changes that are desperately needed to improve our current situation.

EARTHDAY.ORG has created a list of 51 Ways to Restore Our Earth. I picked my favorite 15 tips (See what I did there?). Well, it’s actually 13, with two of my own tips.

  1. Enjoy spending time outside? Support the Great Global Cleanup and pick up trash while enjoying your outdoor activities. It is a great way to save that plastic bottle cap from the landfill while you are on your morning walk!
  2. Plastic pollution is one of the most important environmental problems that we face today. Calculate your personal plastic consumption, then use our tips to help break free from single-use plastics! 
  3. With the Global Earth Challenge app, anyone can be a citizen scientist! Through a mobile app, this initiative helps monitor and mitigate threats to environmental and human health. Download today and collect environmental data near you! 
  4. Fight food waste by composting! Learn how you can make a difference right in your own backyard.
  5. A Billion Acts of Green are happening across the planet. From students in classrooms to organizers in their communities to officials in government there are ways for anyone of any background to make a difference. Add your act of green.
  6. Help protect pollinators by pledging to go pesticide-free! We need pollinators to ensure the persistence of our crop yields and ensure healthy sustainable ecosystems now and in the future. Sign our pledge to limit the use of harmful pesticides in your garden.
  7. Save the butterflies and bees! Help contribute to meaningful scientific research on pollinator populations through the Global Earth Challenge mobile application. It’s as easy as snapping a picture.
  8. Let’s teach our kids how to steward the Earth! Sign the petition calling on governments to take bold action on universal climate and environmental literacy for our school kids.
  9. Buy local food to reduce the distance from farm to fork. Buy straight from the farm, frequent your local farmers’ market, or join a local food co-op.
  10. Avoid single-use plastic items, and if possible buy products in glass or paper. Glass products are easily reused and paper is a much friendlier product to the environment. 
  11. Practice sustainable fashion! Donate your old clothes and home goods instead of throwing them out. When you need something, consider buying used items. Used does not always mean unfashionable! 
  12. Always read labels! Use environmentally-friendly, non-toxic cleaning products to avoid  washing toxic chemicals down the drain! 
  13. Be a part of the change. Change your diet to fight climate change! Try participating in meatless Mondays! Check out some plant-based recipes. 
  14. Start collecting items for future Northcenter Neighborhood Association Recycling Popups.
  15. Be sure to check out 365 Ways to Save the Planet. There are still 253 more days to go!

To read more tips, be sure to check out the entire list.

No matter how you decide to celebrate, make sure you are not doing it alone. Encourage others to join in and work together to better our planet.

Tomorrow, giving you the lowdown on the DEA’s prescription drug collection.

First Recycle Popup is in the Books

Day 108 – Yesterday, the Northcenter Neighborhood Association hosted their first Recycle Popup. The set up started at 8am. With the tent up, tables out, bins marked and smiling faces under masks, we were ready to welcome our neighbors by 9am.

The first hour was slow. However, things picked up between 10-11am. Everyone was so happy to be parting with items that they had been saving for months (some even years). They were waiting for someone to rescue these items before they ended up in the trash. It felt good to be part of the solution.

Our helpers were kept busy, sorting all the items and making sure they were placed in the correct bins. I would like to say we were somewhat organized.

The last hour was very busy and we ended the morning with a bang! The next step was to figure out what to do with everything!

We were able to ship three boxes to TerraCycle. Those included, one box of dental and personal hygiene products (toothbrushes, mouthwash bottles and caps, soap packaging, dental floss containers, toothpaste tubes and caps, deodorant containers and caps) and two boxes of plastic food containers.

The amount of batteries we collected was absolutely crazy. It was easily over 100 pounds (if not more). With government agencies like the EPA saying that batteries can be placed in the trash, no one is recycling batteries anymore without a fee. I will be looking high and low for various places to send the batteries. I can’t imagine collecting that amount of batteries every month. Hopefully, people will consider using rechargeable batteries. Not only are they reusable, but they are easily recyclable (without a fee).

We collected ink cartridges, contact lenses and packaging, beauty products, eyeglasses, keys, phone cases, plastic cards, razors (and packaging), crayons, BRITA water filters (and pitchers), and lots and lots of CDs, DVDs and VHS tapes. My daughter and I were very excited about the plastic bread tags!

My car was packed to the brim and emptied into my basement. The next phase is getting all these items to their appropriate destination. I’m giving myself two weeks to get it done, so that I’m ready to go for the next popup on May 15th. I’ll be sure to give another update to fill you in on where everything ended up.

A big thanks to everyone involved with making our inaugural Recycle Popup a success. I am looking forward to improving this event and making it something everyone gets excited about.

Be sure to stay up to date with all the items the Recycle Popup excepts. Click HERE for the list.

Tomorrow, celebrating our National Parks.

Recycling Pop-up Coming Soon!

Day 95 – I’m so excited to be part of the Northcenter Neighborhood Association‘s first Recycling Pop-up! The event will take place on Saturday, April 17th from 9am-12pm, at the Northcenter Town Square (a block north of the Starbucks at the Damen/Lincoln/Irving intersection). We are not able to take all those hard to recycle items, so please check the list below to see which items we will be accepting.

You don’t need to live in the neighborhood or be a member to drop things off. (Though we’d love you to help us keep this going by becoming a member or donating). We hope to expand our list every month, enabling you to recycle more and send less to the landfill.

We will collecting on the following dates,

  • April 17 (9am-12pm)
  • May 15 (9am-12pm)
  • June 19 (9am-12pm)
  • July 17 (9am-12pm)
  • August 21 (9am-12pm)
  • September 18 (9am-12pm)
  • October 16 (9am-12pm)

Hopefully, the weather cooperates and we can collect in November & possibly December.

The items that will be accepted:

  • Baby food packaging: Flexible or rigid plastic packaging; shrink labels; plastic containers; plastic lids; flexible plastic pouches; small and large hook Gerber baby clothing hangers
  • Batteries (alkaline only)
  • Beauty products: All skin care, hair care and cosmetic packaging, including specific lines (Rodan & Fields and Arbonne)
  • Contact lenses and packaging
  • Dental/personal hygiene products: toothbrushes, mouthwash bottles and caps, soap packaging, dental floss containers, toothpaste tubes and caps, deodorant containers and caps (Note: Packages should be empty; they do not need to be washed out.)
  • Food storage containers (glass and plastic)
  • Glue sticks
  • Inkjet cartridges (Note: no toner cartridges)
  • Keys
  • Phone cases
  • Plastic cards: IDs, licenses, credit cards, business cards, gift cards, key cards. (Note: Please cut up all cards containing sensitive information before dropping off.)
  • Popsockets: Popsocket products and packaging
  • Razors: All brands of blades and razors; rigid plastic packaging; flexible plastic bag packaging (Note: no electric razors)
  • Swiffer products: dry refills, wet refills, XL refills, WetJets refills, duster refills
  • Toys (Please click on the manufacturer names below for lists of accepted brands)
  • Hasbro toys and games
  • LeapFrog
  • Spin Master (Etch-a-sketch, Kinetic sand and more)
  • VTech
  • Watercolor dispensers and paint sets
  • Water filter products: BRITA ONLY. Filters, pitchers, dispensers, bottles, faucet systems and packaging
  • Writing instruments (empty) and flexible packaging

We will also be collecting charitable items:

Be sure to check out the Northcenter Neighborhood Association’s website for the most up-to-date information regarding the pop-up event.

Feel free to send any questions my way about the event. I will be happy to answer them! (smgaietto@gmail.com)

If you would like to find out more about how this event was created and how you can bring this to your neighborhood, do not hesitate to ask. It is very doable and I have no doubt it will be very successful in diverting large amounts of waste from going to the landfill.

Hope to see some familiar faces on April 17th!

Tomorrow, a circular economy is the solution to our recycling problems.