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.

Art Supplies: Donating your surplus

Day 105 – It’s World Art Day! So, what better way to celebrate than to donate your extra art supplies to awesome organizations that make sure that artists, both young and old, have the supplies they need. Also, on this list are organizations looking for items you may have around your house and would most likely throw away.

There are many organizations to choose from in the Chicago area.

Art Makers Outpost -609 South Boulevard, Evanston, IL 60202

“The Art Makers Outpost combines environmental consciousness with guided project based and free form art creation to encourage awareness of material usage and emphasize reuse . Each artist working at The Outpost is a unique, individual, artistic human, coming to work on their craft. All art made at the Outpost is created by repurposing items sourced from the waste & excess collected from our community & organizational partners, individuals & local businesses. The Art Makers Outpost is a place for freedom of self expression and exploration.” – Art Makers Outpost

Click HERE to find a list of their accepted items.

Creative Chicago Reuse Exchange – 2124 W. 82nd Place, Chicago (warehouse location)

“A 501c3 nonprofit that solicits donations of surplus materials, equipment and supplies for teachers and non-profit organizations. We promote creativity and environmental stewardship. Our goal is to educate and empower the public to reduce waste, rethink surplus, and share. We do this through creative reuse programming, events and workshops. Our belief is that ‘trash is just a failure of imagination.'” – Creative Chicago Reuse Exchange

Click HERE to find a list of their accepted items.

Creative Pitch

“Creative Pitch is a Chicago-area nonprofit that gathers those unwanted art materials and makes them available – free of charge – to the art educators, art therapists and other professionals who need them most. It is a low effort/high reward way for companies and individuals in the Chicago area to come together and make a difference.” – Creative Pitch

Click HERE to find a list of accepted items.

Inklude Studio – 2302 Wisconsin Ave, Downers Grove, IL 60515

“Inklude Studio is a non-profit 501(c)(3), community based, art and design studio. We provide an open, creative, and collaborative studio environment for adult artists with autism and other developmental disabilities. Artists who participate in our studio program have the opportunity to earn income from the sale of their creative work. Our studio program is artist directed. Artists develop their own projects and make decisions regarding exhibition and sales opportunities. Our goal is to have studio artists included in as much of the studio’s operations as possible – so they may develop practical business skills; as well as, develop their creative skills.” – Inklude Studio

Click HERE to find a list of accepted items.

SCARCE – 800 S. Rohlwing Rd (Route 53), Unit D, Addison, IL 60101

“SCARCE is an award-winning environmental education non-profit dedicated to creating sustainable communities. We accomplish this through innovative and hands-on education programs for schools and organizations, demonstrating care for people and our natural resources through our Reuse Center, and engaging the broader public through community-wide events and programs.” – SCARCE

Click HERE to find a list of accepted items.

Upcycling Colors – 1730 N Clark Street, Chicago IL 60614

Upcycling Colors is not currently collecting, but keep them on your radar!

“We rescue leftover (used/new) art, craft and school supplies. We transform them into like-new treasures and bring them to underserved communities.” – Upcycling Colors

When they are collecting again, click HERE to find a list of accepted items.

The Wasteshed – 2842 W Chicago Ave, Chicago IL.

“The Wasteshed is a creative reuse center in Chicago. We collect reusable art and school materials that would otherwise be thrown away. We then make them available to teachers, artists, and anyone who needs them, at a low cost.” – The Wasteshed

Click HERE to find a list of accepted items.

So, before you throw out something, check out the various lists. Your trash may just be someone else’s masterpiece.

Tomorrow, proper disposal of your contact lenses.

Crayons: Donate to a good cause

Day 90 – In our house we have a giant bin of crayons. They have been accumulating over the years. On occasion, I have gone through the container and tossed the broken ones. I didn’t give it much thought.

More than half a million pounds of used crayons are discarded each year, turning into waxy sludge that never biodegrades in landfills. That is no way to treat these colorful sticks of joy. There’s has to be better way.

Well, there is! Thankfully, there are numerous organizations that will take your broken and unwanted crayons and give them new life.

The Crayon Initiative – They collect unwanted crayons and melt them to create new crayons that are then donated to over 240 children’s hospitals. The Crayon Initiative has donated crayons to 527,200 patients and has kept 42,249,157 crayons out of the landfill.

S.C.A.R.C.E – They divert broken, unusable crayons from going to the landfill by recycling crayon pieces into “Super Crayons.”  Volunteers help peel, sort, and melt the broken crayons.  The liquid crayon mixture is poured into molds to form large Super Crayons in a variety of shapes which can be used by children with special needs.

Crayons Collection – They take gently used crayons from restaurants and hotels and donate them to schools that can use them.

Crazy Crayons – They will take broken and unwanted crayons and create new crayons, which can then be purchased.

During the month of April, I will be collecting crayons. If you have broken and unwanted crayons, send them my way. If you know of any restaurants or other businesses that provide crayons to their young customers, please find out if they recycle their crayons. If not, please let me know. The hope is to collect a large number of crayons and send them to both, The Crayon Initiative and S.C.A.R.C.E.

If you live near the Northcenter neighborhood, you can drop them at my house (please email me for the address, Otherwise, I encourage you to take up your own collection and give those unwanted crayons a chance to bring joy to another child.

Tomorrow, don’t be a fool about fossil fuel.

Plastic Bread Bag Tags: Save them for a good cause

Day 50 – On Day 8, it was discussed how you can recycle your bread bags along with your plastic bags at your local Target or grocery store. However, that pesky plastic tag was questionable, recyclable or non-recyclable. Well, I have found the perfect solution for those bread bag tags. While perusing the SCARCE (Day 48) website, I saw that they were collecting bread bag tags for a charity called Danielle Cares for Chairs. This non-profit organization was started by a high school student. They collect plastic tags and then take the tags to a recycling plant where the funds go to purchase wheel chairs for those unable to purchase one on their own. The average cost of a motorized wheelchair can be anywhere from $3,000 to $20,000.

So, a tiny piece of plastic that you have not given much thought about could make a huge difference in someone’s life. A life changing difference brought about by taking a moment to make the very small effort of setting that plastic bread bag tag aside and taking up a collection.

Here’s how you can get those tags to Danielle Cares for Chairs:

  1. Mail to Danielle Cares for Chairs, 11468 Sutton Place Drive East, Carmel, IN  46032
  2. Mail or drop your tags at SCARCE, located at 800 S. Rohlwing Road (Route 53), Unit D, Addison, Illinois 60101
  3. If you know me and/or live in/near the North Center (Chicago) neighborhood, I would be happy to take your plastic tags.

It takes at least 260,000 bread tags to purchase one wheelchair. So, get collecting and be sure to share with family and friends about this organization and encourage them to start collecting, too!

Recycling for a cause is my favorite way to recycle!

Tomorrow, leaving the liquid laundry detergent behind.

SCARCE: Implementing change to foster a more sustainable future

Day 48SCARCE was founded in 1990, when gently used books were rescued from the landfill and placed in the hands of those that needed them the most. Now, over 30 years later they have grown into an organization that is educating and helping others to make a meaningful difference in their communities and the environment.

SCARCE does the following:

  1. SCARCE provides award-winning  programs that teach people how and why they should  care for the Earth. Whether you are with a school, business, non-profit, or community group, they will help you make a positive impact for our planet.
  2. SCARCE guides schools, municipalities, and organizations to reach their environmental goals. They can assist with recycling, composting, energy conservation, green cleaning projects and more!
  3. SCARCE will help you find places to donate, recycle, or properly dispose of items you no longer need. Whether you are downsizing, de-cluttering, cleaning out, or retiring, they help you reduce your impact on the planet and get items to those in need.
  4. They have gently-used books and supplies for teachers, non-profits, and aid groups. They have books, school supplies, musical instruments, arts & crafts materials and much more.

SCARCE is located at 800 S. Rohlwing Rd (Route 53), Unit D, Addison, IL 60101

Click HERE for their hours.

Tomorrow, trying to figure out what to do with batteries.