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landfill

Gaia offers an easy way to recycle many items. It is a great way for you to participate in protecting the environment and preventing our landfills to get overfilled. 

Step 1. Gather and wash your unwanted clothes, textiles and other items you don’t need. Most household textiles can be recycled. This includes clothing, linens, and wearable accessories. But also, other things can be recycled (see lists below).

Step 2. Ensure all items are clean, dry and free of odors. We accept items that are stained or torn a bit but still wearable. Remove all hangers. Ensure all items are in sealed bags.
What about my fabric scraps or pillow stuffing? Gaia, like most other collectors, is unable to accept these items. Textile Recycling is a complicated process and items go through a series of sorting channels and these items apply to companies that can generate thousands of pounds of materials at a time, all with consistent size and material makeup.

Step 3. Check with the lists, which Gaia can process below:

Acceptable Clothing and Textiles Items:
Blouses, Coats, Dresses, Pants, Shirts, Socks, Swimsuits Suits, Tuxedos, Sweaters, Undergarments, Ties, Socks, Jeans, Hats, Jackets, Scarves
Household Textiles: Bedspreads, Sheets, Blankets, Drapes, Sofa Covers, Quilts,
Towels, Washcloths, Curtains, Pillows Sleeping Bags

Unacceptable Items:
Mattresses, Rugs, Carpets. Bigger Cushions, Furniture, Foam Mats, Vinyl Shower Curtains.

Acceptable Shoes:
All Paired Shoes
Unacceptable Items:
Single Shoes, Extremely Damaged/Broken Shoes

Acceptable Miscellaneous:
Stuffed Animals, Plush Toys, Hard Toys, Wooden Toys, Dolls, Purses/Belts, Purses, Handbags, Backpacks, Tote-bags, Belts, Intact Games & Puzzles, Gently Worn Pots & Pans, Figurines, Smaller Paintings and Picture Frames, Candle holders, Hand Tools,

Unacceptable Miscellaneous:
Large Luggage, Electric Tools, Lamps, Furniture, Appliances, Blinds, TV’s, Computers, Wood Paper, Wrapping Paper, Office Supplies, Books, Car Seats,
Electronics, Strollers, CD’s and DVD’s.

Step 4. Go Donate in a Gaia box. If you do not know where there is a box in your neighborhood, then go to www.gaia-movement-usa.org and write you zip code in the box finder.

Although 75% of America’s waste is recyclable, we only recycle around 30% of it.”

Over 11 million tons of recyclable clothing, shoes, and textiles make their way into landfills each year. At Gaia, we strongly encourage people to recycle their textiles, with us, or with their local resale store.
Even further, we truly desire to see each of you go beyond recycling only textiles to eco-consciously disposing of all recyclables you come into contact with, from plastics to aluminum, cardboard and paper to anything that can be kept out of landfills by using one of these 5 R’s. below:

  • Refuse – plastic bags, straws, cutlery, etc.
  • Reduce – use of plastic in packaging.
  • Reuse – versus disposing; may include repair.
  • Recycle – into same or another product.
  • Repurpose – use an item for something else.

 

Refuse – plastic bags, straws, cutlery, etc.

The first “R” is to refuse plastic bags, straws, cutlery, etc. When out and about, it is so easy to stop by a store and buy an item and simply accept a plastic bag upon purchasing that item. If it is something small, choose instead to carry the product(s) out of the store in your hand or purse after purchasing. Even better, place a few reusable grocery bags in your trunk, and put them back in there after unloading each time when you get home. That way, you are never in need of a plastic bag even if you’re simply making a quick stop on your way home from work.

Refuse straws and plastic cutlery by drinking with an open lid or also stocking your car with reusable straws and cutlery when out and about. Go one step further and bring your own reusable travel cup. These are small items that could even fit in your purse or backpack if you use alternative transportation getting around in daily life. Small efforts go a long way in helping reduce your carbon footprint. According to a study done by the University of Georgia, 18 billion pounds of plastic trash winds up in our oceans each year. To put that in perspective, it’s enough trash to cover every foot of coastline around the world with five full trash bags of plastic…compounding every year.

 

Reduce – use of plastic in packaging.

The second “R” is to “Reduce” the use of plastic in packaging. An example of an alternative to plastics in packaging is the use of banana leaves in parts of Asia. Biodegradable types of packaging are starting to pop up. Use of recycled textiles and other recycled materials. The United States throws away $11.4 billion worth of recyclable containers and packaging every year.” The other part of the problem is simply reducing the need for this packaging with creative solutions. The amount of plastic film and wrap produced annually could shrink-wrap the state of Texas.

 

Reuse – versus disposing; may include repair.

In our consumer-driven society, we often choose to throw away something when it needs repair rather than taking time to mend it or have it mended. A hundred years ago this was not the case. Most belongings were made with high quality and longevity in mind, so when they did break or need mending, there were shops in place or know how by the public in fixing these items at home. Many women sewed the family’s clothes, so when there was a rip in the fabric or a hole in a sock, repairs were easy and done right at home. This newer proliferation of consumerism and the ease it brings in replacing rather than repairing has led to an overabundance of items ending up in our landfills when they could have lasted longer with a bit of loving repair. Our third “R” is “Reuse” – versus disposing, which may include repair. Learning the basics of sewing can help many of your textiles have a longer shelf life at home and making good use of YouTube videos can also help in minor repairs of items around the house. With landfills reaching their limits, it is increasingly important that we seek out items that are made with high quality and return to the mindset of repair and restoration over replacement.

 

Recycle – into same or another product.

The fourth “R” is “Recycle” – into the same or another product. Reuse and recycle are often confused terms so a simple explanation to differentiate the two is that reuse involves using the same product in its original form for the same or a different purpose. Recycling is a process and involves turning one product into a new product so as not to waste the material. Recycling can involve numerous products, from cans to paper to textiles to plastic bottles, and much more. Some even make businesses out of collecting and creating art to sell with other people’s recycled goods. You can recycle paper down to pulp and create new paper or recycle blue jeans into insulation for homes.

There are many ways that recycling companies have figured out how to create new products from older products with life still left in them. As many of you know, the heart of who we are at Gaia is about educating our community. Knowledge has been growing in the problem of textiles in landfills, and so has the pursuit of creating a closed loop of textiles and fashion. Over 11 million tons of recyclable clothing, shoes and textiles make their way into landfills each year. Donating your textiles to resale stores and donation bins is one big way you can give your textiles another life. The same is true of other goods in your home with regards to being recycled versus placed out by the curb on trash day. Textiles can be recycled in almost every case, with the majority reused and resold in other countries. Other textiles are recycled and cut into wiping rags, and others are recycled and broken down into fibers to make filling for car seats, insulation and other products.

 

Repurpose – use an item for something else.

The fifth and final “R”: “Repurpose” your items for something else. There are many ways you can do this. Cutting an old coat down to a vest, using recyclables to make art, using old wood flooring to make picture frames or child size furniture, or turning old bed sheets into new clothes are just a few ways household items can be repurposed. One example of this in our very own backyard is the Shedd Aquarium in downtown Chicago. Local artists have created sea animal sculptures outside the aquarium on display made from trash collected from our oceans. With a little bit of creativity, new purposes can be found for items anywhere you look.


With a little extra effort, you can easily work these five R’s into your daily routine. Recycle textiles, bring along reusable bags and dining accessories, become educated in what to recycle and how to recycle it, and use a little bit of creativity when items in your everyday no longer serve their purpose. When each of us plays our small role in reducing our output to landfills, we can make a large difference in impacting our world for a better tomorrow.

 

Earth Day is April 22nd . For Gaia the Month of April is Earth Month.earth day

In fact, every day year-round is Earth Day for us in Gaia.
That is because we love our Earth. We love our Earth so much, that we have dedicated all our days to work for protecting it, our environment and the survival of all the incredible creatures, organisms and nature.
Protecting Earth against cynical exploitation, degradation and destruction, which are taking place in order for a few to get richer by the day.
Valentine’s Day - a day millions of Americans celebrate in February every year, is a day marked by LOVE…love of spouse, love of friends, love of pets, love of neighbors, love, love, and more love.
Although typically celebrated for romantic love, we encourage each of you, our readers, to add an extra recipient of your love this day and forward.
When thinking of ways, you can love others at Valentines Day, think also of ways you can love our Earth. Here are 5 ideas to get you started…

 

1. Love the Earth by Getting Out in Nature:

This last way to love our Earth can look different to each person. For some, it might be collecting trash along the shores of Lake Michigan, or in your very own neighborhood.
For others, it might be volunteering at your local nature or forest preserve, spreading mulch, planting trees and again cleaning up trash, or any other projects they may need help with.
Another way you could help is by planting wildflowers to promote bee life in your area or create a butterfly habitat by planting the right kind of flowers in your yard. Each creature is vital to our Earth and many are endangered. By creating habitats where they can thrive, you are helping to further their existence and continue their very important roles in nature.
Also, simply getting out in nature, taking walks and appreciating the vast array of trees and plants, flowers, animals and insects can help us appreciate nature more and better love the Planet, we live on.

 

2. Love the Earth by Educating Yourself

The first step of loving the Earth is in knowing how to show that love. Knowing ways to take care of our Planet Earth and use its resources wisely is a big way to show your love. By educating yourself about the world and pollution and trash, you can know how to do your part in making it cleaner.
“In a lifetime, the average American will leave a legacy of 90,000 pounds of trash for future generations.”
Leaving that kind of legacy is not a legacy of love and by starting now, you can change that legacy. Another way to educate yourself is to study how other countries handle waste differently than the U.S.
“Americans make up roughly 5% of the world’s population but generate nearly 40% of the world’s total waste.”
As the focus on climate and environmentalism grows, new businesses are popping up that face the problem of waste head on by finding creative ways to recycle other’s waste.
By learning more about what can and should be recycled, and other creative ways of offsetting your waste output, such as composting, you can begin to make a difference in your own corner of the Planet.

 

3. Love the Earth by Recycling Textiles

“The EPA says that current textile recycling, including clothing, has a greater immediate impact on reducing greenhouse gases than the recycling of plastic, yard waste and glass.

The weight of recycled textiles is around 2.6 million tons and equal to taking 1.3 million cars off the road.”
By changing your approach to old clothes, towels, linens, etc., you can make a large difference in the contribution of greenhouse gases. By using this knowledge, and spreading this knowledge, together we can make a huge impact on the future of our Planet.
If you know of any businesses in your area that would be willing to host a bin or know of a large need for a bin in your neighborhood, please contact us. We would love to help you spread awareness by placing a visual reminder and receptacle to simplify the process of recycling textiles.

 

4. Love the Earth by Spreading Awareness

Who in your own area of interaction can you share this new knowledge with? Is there a neighbor you have seen place plastic bags in their recycling? Is there a friend you know who composts that can get you started and teach you how so that you can then teach others? Do you know of a business owner that would be willing to host a textile recycling bin in your neighborhood? Are there coworkers you see that bring plastic bottles to work instead of reusable, and then throw those away? Does your office offer recycling cans next to its trash cans?
If the most basic way of loving the Earth is gaining knowledge in how to love it better, the second is to spread that new knowledge by spreading awareness about the importance of taking care of our planet. You can do that in your day-to-day interactions with people you have relationships with or even strangers you meet along the way. Using kind words, you can help show the Earth some love by inspiring others to also love the Earth better. Spreading awareness also spreads and widens the effects of change making a larger and larger impact in your corner of the world.

 

5. Love the Earth with Flowers:

Loving our Earth need not involve grand gestures and completely changing your life. By changing small things in your day to day and sharing these changes you’ve made with others around you, you can make a difference toward a cleaner and healthier world.
Instead of buying flowers on Valentine’s Day, maybe you can start some of these small changes. You can plant flowers instead and watch your love of Earth bloom over the months and years ahead.

 

Growing our own organic vegetables is not only healthier for us humans, it is healthier for the planet too. By not using chemicals at all, we improve the taste and nutrition of the veggies, AND we reduce the carbon footprint that chemicals and transportation of the products would have had on the planet.

We reused old drawers to grow the vegetables in. We made small holes in the bottom, so the soil can breathe and does get too wet. We placed them on shelves in the green house and filled them with organic soil.

We have chosen to grow tomatoes, green onions, beets, kale, chives, basil and parsley in the period from October to December.
By then we will have to install a little solar heater to keep up the temperature during the cold months, January to March, in Chicago, Illinois.
More on that later.

 

Here is how we made a sun heater to get warm water in a sink in our annex. Making our own warm water will protect the planet a tiny bit more, as the heat will not come from burning fossil fuels.

Front of sun heater

Front of sun heater

Side and back of sun heater

Side and back of sun heater

 

Materials that we had already and which we re-used:

  • 1 aluminum window frame
  • 1 window glass in frame that fitted with the aluminum frame
  • 2 hinges with screws and bolts
  • 2 water pipe connectors
  • A piece of roof plate 
  • Foam pieces

 

Materials that we bought:

  • 40 cobber tubes 2’ long fitting to with of window frame less 3’ in each side
  • 40 tripods of cobber – same size as cobber tubes
  • Foil (aluminum) same size as window frame
  • Collecting joints fitting inside the cobber tubes

 

Assembling the sun heater:

Cut the roof plate so it fits the window frame. Fasten it to backside of window frame with screws. Make two holes diagonal from each other in a corner and fit the two water pipe connectors in the holes

Cover inside of roof plate with foil, fasten with duck-tape

Assemble the cobber tubes with the tripods and collecting joints to the latter like structure you see in the picture. Solder the connections.

Place foam pieces between backside and the cobber latter structure as you lay down the cobber structure in the window frame.

Fit the cobber structure to the two water pipe connectors

Put water in through the top water pipe connector and watch it come out of the second water pipe connector

Fit the window to the bottom window frame.

Fasten top and bottom window frame to each other with hinges and screws

Cobber tubes, tripods and joints soldered together

Cobber tubes, tripods and joints soldered together

Back corner with water pipe

Back corner with water pipe


Any size of window frame can do, and then you just have to fit everything else accordingly.