Day 219 – Digs 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:
They collect gently used home furnishings from the community and store them in their warehouse.
They work with Chicago-based social workers to identify a family transitioning out of homelessness.
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.
They design the space from top to bottom with the help of volunteers and their designer.
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.
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.
Day 180 – One of the best ways to celebrate summer is having a block party. Gathering the neighbors for some food and fun has been a wonderful tradition shared by countless neighborhoods throughout the years. This year is extra special, since last summer we were not able to gather together.
Here are some suggestions on how you can have an amazing block party, while still being environmentally friendly.
Don’t use disposable tablecloths – Invest in reusable tablecloths that can be used year after year. I found a great deal on tablecloths at Home Goods. There are also a variety of reusable tablecloths made from recycled material.
Ditch the plastic cutlery – Not everyone has a plethora of kitchen cutlery to put out for guests. However, there are reusable options that can replace the typical disposable plasticware. Preserve is just one brand that offers reusable plasticware that can be used countless times. They are dishwasher safe and can be recycled through the companies take back program. Just make sure you tell your guests to not throw out the cutlery.
Switch from disposable to reusable plates – Paper plates are very easy, but they do add to landfill waste. Choosing a reusable option is ideal. Preserve offers reusable plates. Like their cutlery, they are dishwasher safe and can be recycled, once they can no longer be used. They also offer compostable plates as do many other companies. If you must use disposable plates, always choose paper over styrofoam.
No water bottles – A fraction of the plastic water bottles that end up in recycling, actually end up getting recycled. So, the best way to avoid this problem is to avoid using plastic water bottles. Try to use large containers to hold water and encourage your guests to bring a water bottle or glass to fill. You can also provide a reusable cup option, instead of the usual disposable SOLO cup. If you end up using SOLO cups, check out TerraCycles free recycling program. Aluminum cups are another plastic free option.
Compost food waste – Check to see if any of neighbors are composting. If they are composting at home, they might be able to take a little extra. If they are commercial composting, they can request an additional bin or two to collect food waste from the block party. There’s no doubt block parties can produce a great deal of food waste. Many dishes sitting outside for numerous hours are usually not saved for future meals.
Avoid the individual snacks – Try to purchase in bulk when buying snacks for your party. The packaging from individually wrapped snacks will add up. This type of packaging is not recyclable and will end up in the trash.
Encourage neighbors to power off – Remind your neighbors to turn off lights and electronics while outside enjoying the block party. Block party day is the perfect excuse to unplug and get outdoors to spend time with the neighbors.
Have recycling stations – If you will have items that can be reused or recycled, be sure to have a few places where neighbors can drop off those items and avoid putting them in the trash.
Avoid using paper towels – Block party clean up is inevitable. Consider using reusable rags instead of paper towels. This will considerably cutback your waste.
Have fun! – Keep your fingers crossed for good weather, enjoy the day and feel good about putting the extra effort into making your block party environmentally friendly.
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.
They are a member of 1% for the Planet. They take 1% of their profits and donate to environmental organizations.
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.
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.
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:
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.)
Fill a box with the baby and kids clothes you don’t plan to hand down or donate.
Log into your account, download and print your FREE shipping label.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Day 121 – If you have any home fragrance products from Yankee Candle®, WoodWick®, and Chesapeake Bay Candle®, including candle jars, wax melt packaging, diffuser oil bottles, Easy MeltCup containers, ScentPlug® Refills, reed diffusers and refills, room sprays, fragrance beads, and car fragrances you can recycle them all through TerraCycle.
Consider reusing the glass jars from your candle if possible — that’s the most environmentally-friendly solution there is. If you can’t reuse your empty candle jars, check with your local recycling program to see what types of glass they accept. Ensure candle jars are free of wax, wicks, and their lids before recycling curbside.
A third option is to either box up your recyclable items and send them (for free) to TerraCycle or you can drop them off at your local Yankee Candle store.
Day 85 – Not too long ago, you could easily have found at least three different types of shampoo brands in our shower. Each accompanied with a conditioner. That is a lot of plastic bottles in one bathroom. So, for Christmas, I included some samples of shampoo bars in a basket of gifts from Mother Earth, to the kids. All the items were going to help us rid our house of single use plastic.
Well, the shampoo bars sat for a month and no one was willing to try them. So, come February, I took it upon myself to be the test subject. I used the shampoo and conditioner bar for about three weeks. I had read that some hair types would need an adjustment period to get used to using such products. In the end, I had to go back to liquid shampoo. I needed a little lather, which the bars were not offering. Besides the lack of lather, aging has not been treating my hair so nicely. So, with the little hair I do have, I wanted it to look and feel clean. Now, this was only one brand and there are countless shampoo bars on the market and I’m sure there are some really great bars out there. I have just decided to put this challenge a little lower on my list.
I definitely want to go plastic free in the shower and it seems like the only way to do that would be to use a shampoo bar or look into a retailer like Loop, that will allow me to ship my empty bottle back and have it refilled. Currently, this type of reusable packaging can be pricey for a larger family. So, I came up with a plan B that will work for now, until a better solution can be found. I perused the TerraCycle Free Programs for shampoo brands. There were a few, but I decided on Hair Food. Hair Food is sulfate-free, paraben-free, dye-free, mineral oil-free and is cruelty free. I signed up for the program and can now ship my empties to TerraCycle, where I now they will be recycled into new products.
So, even though you might have difficulty parting with a product that happens to be packaged in plastic, don’t beat yourself up. Plan B will work until you can find a successful way to complete your original plan. It’s important that you stay positive and engaged, so that you feel good and your hair, too!
Tomorrow, going dark to shed light on the environment.