Philadelphia Sustainability Resources
This list of Philadelphia area resources was compiled by the Tabernacle United Church community and is maintained by Tabernacle’s Sustainable Living Affinity Group.
- Local and Organic Food
- Environmentally Friendly Products
- Alternative Energy Choices
- Carbon Offsets
- Sustainable Travel Choices
In addition to municipal recycling and the specialized centers listed here, some neighborhoods have recycling centers that take different kinds of stuff, such as Weaver’s Way Co-Op in Mt. Airy. For a list in the Philadelphia area see: http://www.phila.gov/streets/recyling_partnership.html
Recycling Services in Pottstown will take most of what is listed here, plus coated paper, plastics 3 and up, lids, and toxic items. 365 Elm St., Pottstown. 610-323-8545.http://www.recyclingservices.org/.
The church maintains an email list and a section on the bulletin board in the community room for people who need things or want to give them away.
Also in Philadelphia it’s worth a shot just putting stuff out on the street the night before trash pickup and bringing it back inside before 7 am if it doesn’t disappear.
Philadelphia Single Stream Items
Philadelphia picks up newspapers, plastics 1 and 2, metal cans, glass jars and bottles, lightweight and corrugated cardboard from the curb. For a schedule and up to date list of items, see: http://recyclingpays.phila.gov/ If you live outside the city and your municipality doesn’t take all of the above, make arrangements to exchange items on Sunday.
Some supermarkets, such as Acme, will take plastic bags. A self-service bin will typically be located near the exit, though most stores are moving away from plastic anyway. See Reusables below.
Styrofoam popcorn can be taken in boxes or bags to the storage/mailbox/shipping place at the corner of 20th and Hamilton. Do not put it in single stream.
Rigid Styrofoam Packing Materials
Styrofoam Packing (rigid) may be mailed in the cardboard box it came in (hey will also recycle the box for you) to:
Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers
1298 Cronson Boulevard, Suite 201
Crofton, MD 21114 USA
Note: Do not use large boxes for this purpose as the post office will try to charge you as much as $50 for an oversized box.
Add food waste to your composting system for yard waste. If you don’t have a composting system, there’s a small composting bucket in the community room at church that folks with composting take turns taking home.
Start a worm box: Todd Koser provided this introduction, based on his successful personal experience: Worm composting is an easy way to deal with food waste, and can be done in a small space in your basement or under the kitchen sink. It’s not complicated or time-consuming! The worms stay in their box and you don’t have to touch them! There is no odor! Yes, you can go on vacation and leave them! Get started by reading Worms Eat My Garbage by Mary Appelhof. Borrow it from Todd. Or, check these websites: http://www.happydranch.com/ (This is where Todd got all his stuff),http://www.wormwoman.com/ or http://cityfarmer.org/wormcomp61.html#wormcompost. Todd also has his own summary set of instructions.
Grass clipping are organic and can stay in your lawn. Check this out: http://www.phila.gov/streets/grass-cycling.html
At certain times of year, municipalities such as Philadelphia run a leaf recycling program. For Philadelphia, check out: http://www.phila.gov/streets/leaf_collection.html
If you have a yard with the space to collect yard waste (grass clippings, weeds, etc.), you can just pile it up and leave it, even if you don’t want to take the time to tend it and make compost. Eventually it will decay and largely disappear.
Start composting yard waste: http://www.phila.gov/streets/compost.html
You can also get a *free* composter from the City of Philadelphia for attending one of their composting workshops.
For $10 apiece, your local Staples will take your printers, monitors, or computers. The staff at times seem confused by this process (you hand them the equipment and the money) but it works. Nonprofit Technology Resources will take equipment that meets their standards, and will refurbish for schools and charities. 1524 Brandywine Street, 2nd floor (ring bell at street), 215-564-6686, www.NTRonline.org
Habitat for Humanity re-Store program accepts donations from contractors, suppliers, and individuals of re-usable building materials and fixtures They will pick up, if necessary. 610-466-1890.
Clothing, Furniture, Toys, Musical Instruments, etc.
Salvation Army at 22nd and Market
Environmentally Friendly Products
They sell non-toxic cleaning products, compact florescent lightbulbs, paper towels and toilet paper made from 100% recycled paper — and lots more.
They sell a lot of good products from them including low-flow shower heads.
100% tree-free paper
100% tree-free paper. Usually there is one brand at office supply stores that meets this criteria — sometimes pure recycled content, sometimes other ingredients such as hemp are included.
Compact flourecent light bulbs
We use compact flourescent light bulbs for just about everything except reading lamps. Conserves lots of energy and saves money too.
Swheat Scoop cat litter. It is scoopable and flushable and odor controlling. Made from wheat, it is renewable and biodegradable (and compostable!) — unlike the clay used to make most cat litters. None of the chemicals used in regular cat litter either. It costs more than other brands of cat litter, but it’s a small way we try to live out our commitments. It’s available at Pet Stores, like Petco and PetSmart and such.
Socially responsible, organic soap for multiple uses. Bottles are 100% post-consumer recycled material.
Save the funny pages from the Sunday newspaper and use them for gift wrap! You can also use old maps, old sheet music, old calendars, or old magazines! Use your creativity!
Reusable fabric gift bags are not hard to make and side-step the throw-away gift wrap process altogether. Plus you can influence others to reuse as the recipient can reuse your fabric gift bag in the future!
http://www.nancysnotions.com/Nancys/assets/html/Bags.asp?URLCheck=1 (to make them yourself… adjust measurements as needed)
http://www.wrapsacks.com/ (buy them ready made)
http://www.echobag.com/ (buy them ready made)
Alternative Energy Choices
You can easily sign up to have 100% renewable energy delivered to your household. The Weaver’s Way Cooperative in Mt. Airy started up an energy co-operative which anyone in the Philadelphia area can join. It will cost us about $7.00 more a month to use all renewable energy. Conventional energy suppliers in our area like PECO get their energy mostly from coal (approx. 45%) and nuclear (approx. 40%) — and we know what those things do to the environment!
This website can direct you to various clean energy options in your area.
Tabernacle purchases carbon offsets from Las Gaviotas, a rainforest regeneration project in Columbia.
Sustainable Travel Choices
Bicycle. It’s better for your health and better for the environment. Check out the Philadelphia Bicycle Network for bike-friendly routes for your commute: http://www.phila.gov/streets/the_bicycle_network.html
SEPTA can get you almost anywhere in the Philadelphia area (check out the Trip Planner on the web site), and if you can afford a monthly pass and don’t lose it, it’s actually relatively cheap. http://www.septa.org/.
Bicycle and SEPTAThe Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia includes video of how to use SEPTA bus bike racks: www.bicyclecoalition.org
Car sharing. Don’t worry about your own car and then share a vehicle for when other options just won’t work. Now you can join for free! http://www.phillycarshare.com/