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.

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.

An Easy Way to Recycle Your Snack Bags

Day 137 – Lots of chips are eaten in my house. Potato, tortilla, pretzel, and anything else you can find in chip form are consumed by my home’s inhabitants. Back on Day 77, I wrote about my purchase of a kitchen zero waste box from TerraCycle. I mentioned that among many things allowed in the box, snack bags and candy wrappers are included. I also mentioned how expensive the zero waste boxes are and because of that cost, they are not a viable option for many people.

Thankfully, Subaru has partnered with TerraCycle to bring FREE recycling programs to their dealerships.

“Visit your local Subaru retailer and recycle your disposable cups, lids, and straws; candy and snack wrappers; and coffee and creamer capsules.”TerraCycle

When you type in your address, you will see the closest Subaru dealership that is offering the program. Take note that not every Subaru dealership is participating. You should also call the dealership even if it shows up on the TerraCycle website. Due to the pandemic, some dealerships put the program on hold.

With a few strokes of the computer keys and a phone call, you could be on your way to recycling those hard to recycle candy and snack wrappers, along with coffee and creamer capsules.

Tomorrow, the recyclability of plastic.

Shower Curtains: Recycle or Trash

Day 131 – My shower curtain is fabric, but I needed something to keep the water inside the tub, during showers. I bought the cheapest liner possible. It was a few bucks and made from a plastic/vinyl combination. After about 6 months or so, it would become rather gross and I would throw it away and buy a new one. A few years ago, I realized that if I spent a little more on a nice liner, I could easily clean it. By tossing it in the washing machine, I was able to use it over and over.

Besides the washable polyester shower curtain liner that I started to use, there are other earth friendly options.

  1. 100% cotton or hemp curtain – Once these curtains lived out their lives they could be cut up and placed in your compost.
  2. Shower door – This is not an option for everyone, but having a shower door would take away the need for a curtain.

If you decide to switch out your shower curtain for a more eco-friendly option, then you’re faced with the question, “What do I do with my old plastic shower curtain?”

Earth911 came up with a list of ideas:

  • Dropcloth for interior painting
  • Table cover for messy DIY or craft projects
  • Protect your car seats under kids’ booster seats
  • Line your vehicle’s trunk
  • Liner under the cat’s litter box
  • Liner for inside the cabinet under kitchen sink
  • When camping, use it to protect firewood from rain, as a waterproof tablecloth, a tent tarp, or to divide food in the cooler.

Remember, that your plastic shower curtain can not be recycled curbside. Unless, you’re willing to pay for a bathroom zero waste box from TerraCycle , your other option is to repurpose it or throw it in the trash. Hopefully, you find a new purpose for your old shower curtain and your new curtain is plastic free.

Tomorrow, so many options to recycle your old electronics.

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.

Candles: Recycling Options

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.

To find the closest store near you, click HERE.

To view frequently asked questions about the recycling program, click HERE.

Enjoy your favorite fragrances without the guilt.

Tomorrow, an update on the shoe collection back in March.

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.

Contact Lenses: Avoid the sink, trash & toilet – RECYCLE

Borrowed from the internet

Day 106 – A study at the Arizona State University, revealed that 15 to 20 percent of contact lens wearers dispose of the lenses down the sink or toilet. That comes out to be about 1.8 billion to 3.36 billion lenses flushed per year in the United States. By washing or flushing away your contact lenses, you are contributing to the microplastic situation that is plaguing our waterways.

Even though disposing of your contact lenses in the trash is definitely better for the environment than sending them down the sink or toilet, an even better solution is recycling them.

TerraCycle has partnered with Bausch & Lomb, to recycle any brand of contact lenses, along with their packaging. All you have to do is type in your zip code and it will locate the closest drop-off location.

So, grab yourself a container or paper bag and start collecting. Once, you have 6 months or a year saved up, drop them off at the closest drop-off location. You’ll be shocked by how much waste you are diverting from the landfill and waterways, by just setting them aside for recycling.

For those in the Northcenter neighborhood and surrounding neighborhoods, we will be accepting contact lenses and packaging at our monthly Recycle Popup, happening tomorrow (Saturday, April 17) from 9am-12pm, at the Northcenter Town Square (4100 N. Damen) . Check our LIST for other items we’ll be collecting.

Tomorrow, must see TV.

Shampoo: Bar or Bottle

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.