FABSCRAP: Philly’s Textile Recycling Center

First came Slow Fashion, a global movement championing concern for the environment over cheap, disposable goods made by underpaid foreign workers. But how can we counter the constantly rising tide of textiles from American manufacturers of clothing, drapes, upholstery, and bedding?  The answer is FABSCRAP, a textile recycling center located at the Bok Building, 1901 S 9th St.

Originally launched in 2016 in Brooklyn to meet New York City’s commercial textile recycling needs, FABSCRAP, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit, is celebrating its one-year anniversary at its Philly warehouse this November. 

“The concept was started by FABSCAP founder and CEO, Jessica Schreiber, who was working in New York City’s Municipal Waste Department and noticing that manufacturers wanted to recycle their textile waste,” said Haven DeAngelis, Philly Reuse Coordinator. Materials that traditionally would have gone to the landfill are now being properly recycled and made available for reuse.


The variety of fabrics available for sale at FABSCRAP is as diverse as the textiles used by the local brands that recycle. “In NYC, we have 700 brand partners. Here in Philadelphia, we have 27, including Urban Outfitters, QVC, J. Jill, and sustainable local brand Lobo Mau whose design studio is also at the Bok building. 60% is reusable and available for sale in our mini storefront and online. The other 40% is recycled into commercial insulation and carpet padding.” This means you will find a huge assortment of prints and solids, knits, corduroy, mesh, and just about every weight of fabric from tulle to leather. You can make an appointment to come to the warehouse to shop for scraps. Larger pieces are sold online. Smaller ScrapPacks for crafting, quilts, and doll clothes are also available. 

Reams of fabric at the FABSCRAP warehouse

Don’t see what you want online? Virtual shopping via Zoom is available in thirty-minute time slots for $75 minimum orders. Shopping appointments at the FABSCRAP Warehouse are one-hour time slots with a limit of one person per appointment. If you would like to shop with a partner, you will both need to register in advance.

“The service fee covers operational costs and allows us to give away fabric to students, artists, local designers, and crafters for reuse,” said DeAngelis who has her own side business, Stitch and Destroy, which upcycles used textiles into eco-friendly punk rock-inspired clothing.

The impact of FABSCRAP

Volunteer at FABSCRAP

“We offer volunteer sorting sessions and have a good group of repeat volunteers, including school groups and corporations,” said DeAngelis. “This month, Philly FABSCAP celebrates its one-year anniversary with a special volunteer sorting session that will include drinks, giveaways, and a party atmosphere.”

A graphic showing FABSCRAP’s process

Each session is three hours long with morning and afternoon sessions. They include an intro to FABSCRAP, how to sort fabric scraps, how to separate unusable scraps, and the process of removing staples or cardboard from swatches. After the session, you are welcome to 5 pounds of free fabric, plus a 30% volunteer discount on any additional material.

Attend a Workshop

Once a month, FabScrap Philly invites a creative professional to skill share with the community, offering both digital and in-person workshops. Past events include: Mend Your Knits, Intro to Patternmaking, and Mixed Media Embroidery. A donation of $10 is suggested to view recent demos on video. Have a craft skill to share? Fill out their online form to apply.

“I love working here and educating others about why we need to recycle clothing and textiles,” said DeAngelis. “Our goal is to provide these saved-from-landfill materials at an accessible and affordable rate to our community of makers.” 

Solo Real Estate congratulates FABSCRAP Philly on its one-year anniversary and welcomes their efforts to help our City achieve its sustainability goals.

Sustainable Home Upgrades

Autumn is a great time to reevaluate your home’s insulation and consider investing in sustainable upgrades. These upgrades will not only reduce your energy bills and increase your home’s value but also contribute to making your neighborhood and our city a better place to live.

Go Solar

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that homes with solar power increased in value by $20 for every dollar saved on energy. The average cost of a residential solar panel installation in 2022 ranges between $18,000 and $20,000, before applying tax credits or other incentives that may be available where you live. 

While some companies claim to offer “free” solar panels, the reality is that free solar panels are actually solar leases. You’ll save more money overall by choosing a solar loan over a solar lease because you’ll be the one to receive any federal, state, or local incentives. If you’re able to purchase your system outright, you’ll see the highest return on investment overall. For example, the owner of a 3,000 sq ft home in Bella Vista paid $26,000 to have solar panels installed in 2019 by Solar States and has not had to pay one penny to heat, cool, or light his home since.

Upgrade your furnace

An average natural gas furnace has a lifespan of approximately 20 years. Regular maintenance will help a furnace reach that 20-year mark, but that doesn’t mean that it will operate efficiently the entire time.

Energy efficiency technology improves virtually every year, and federal efficiency standards often become more strict as a reaction. This helps our environment and ultimately saves you money. The more efficient your furnace, the less you pay for utility services.

If your energy costs have increased recently, an outdated furnace may be partially to blame. Have an HVAC professional inspect the unit and recommend a solution. If your furnace isn’t too old, a parts retrofit can improve its efficiency; however, if your furnace has reached the end of its expected lifespan, your best (and the most cost-effective) option is to replace it with a newer model.

Go Green

A green roof is a layer of vegetation planted over a waterproofing system that is installed on top of a flat or slightly–sloped roof. According to the National Parks Service, its primary benefit to the environment is controlling stormwater runoff and retention. But it also provides financial benefits, including energy cost savings and increased property values. Over its estimated lifespan of 40 years, a green roof would save about $200,000. Jeanne Weber from Philadelphia Green Roofs has worked with Solo for over ten years, and they frequently help homeowners with the application for the Philadelphia Green Roof Tax Credit and the stormwater certification process for the Philadelphia Water Dept. Want to learn more about green roofs? Read our article about what green roofs actually do.

Philadelphia Green Roofs
Image: Philadelphia Green Roofs

Energy Efficient Windows

You may have already installed energy-efficient appliances, but have you given any thought to energy-efficient windows?  Double-pane windows with thermal insulation improve the sustainability of your home. Single-pane windows do not keep homes well insulated. Double-pane windows can retain your home’s warmth in the winter and keep your home cooler in the summer months. 

Sign up to get a rain barrel

The Philadelphia Water Dept. provides free rain barrels to homeowners through their Rain Check Program for the purpose of capturing stormwater runoff from the roof. Each blue barrel is approximately 22.5” in diameter and 36.5” in height. PWD provides a full professional installation including spigots, gaskets, winter caps, and a downspout diverter. You can use the stored water for your non-edible plants or outdoor cleaning. Reduce your water consumption and manage stormwater runoff at the same time! 

Rain Barrel in a backyard.
Rain barrel installed in a backyard. Image: PWD Rain Check Program

To get your rain barrel you’ll need to complete a virtual workshop where they will explain the free and subsidized stormwater management options (other projects include permeable pavers, rain gardens, etc) available through the rain check program. Sign up now to get on the waiting list for a workshop when they resume in January 2023.

Plant a Tree

Philadelphia Parks & Recreation can help you get a free yard tree through its TreePhilly program. The trees are given away at community-hosted events throughout November and may be planted in front, side, or back yards. According to TreePhilly, trees are one of the best investments we can make in the future of our city. “When properly cared for, urban trees provide valuable and vital services – like clean air, increased property values, and peaceful neighborhoods. Planting and maintaining trees addresses all three pillars of sustainability: Environment, Economics, and Society.”

tree planting
Image: Tree Philly

Don’t have a yard to plant a tree? You may be able to get a street tree instead. Fill out this form to request a tree from the Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Street Tree Office. Tree planting season usually runs from mid-October to mid-November and mid-April to mid-June.

Every step you take to reduce your home’s footprint results in benefits for you and for our city.

Interested in learning other ways you can help reduce your environmental footprint? Check out our article on Four Ways to Minimize your Waste Footprint in Philadelphia, How Be More Sustainable This Fall or our article on Greening Your Philly Rental. If you’re a Solo tenant or owner and want to sign up for a special 2 month trial offer from Bennett Compost, please e-mail us!

Plastic-Free July

Plastic Free July is a global movement that helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution – so we can have cleaner streets, oceans, and beautiful communities. In Philly, there are plenty of opportunities to participate to reduce the use of plastic and improve our environment. 

Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University's Plastic-Free Philly badge.

The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University is a science leader for the Delaware River Watershed Initiative, which protects and restores the rivers and streams that supply our drinking water. They have partnered with the Philadelphia Water Department to inspire residents to take the Drink Philly Tap pledge: Help save the environment from plastic waste and drink water from the faucet, after you’ve filtered it. Below are a few other action steps they recommend.

Take Action

Help Clean Up our Waterways

Staggering amounts of plastic water bottles are dumped in the Delaware River and connecting waterways. The Academy, Philadelphia retailer United by Blue, and Tacony Frankfort Watershed Partners aim to remove 50,000 pounds of trash from the river. Make a difference and sign up for a clean-up day.

Waterway Cleanup. Image: United by Blue
Waterway Cleanup. Image: United by Blue

Make a donation

The Academy has been researching, protecting, and restoring the health of watersheds since 1947. Support the Academy and our clean water research efforts.

Takeaway coffee cups

Most coffee cups aren’t recycled. By bringing your own reusable coffee cup, or taking the time to dine in at your favorite café, you can make a huge difference.

Fruit & vegetables

Many grocery stores pre-package their fruit and vegetables in plastic. Instead, consider going to a farmers market or organic store where plastic packaging is not used. BYO reusable bags or containers and shop the bulk section to avoid unnecessary plastic waste while saving some money.

Plastic straws

Many bars and cafes put plastic straws in every drink. Reduce plastic waste by requesting your drink without a plastic straw or bringing your own reusable alternative. There are stainless steel, bamboo, and glass options available.

Bakery products

Unfortunately, many bakeries package their bread, rolls, and other baked goods in plastic. Avoid single-use packaging by bringing your own containers. 

Meat, fish & deli

These products are often sold on polystyrene trays; a type of plastic that is difficult to recycle and contains chemicals that can be harmful to human health. Purchase these items from purveyors who use butcher paper such as Primal Supply Meats in East Passyunk and Brewerytown.

Take a tour or visit an installation

The Academy of NaturalScience is teaming up with the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) as well as local and national artists to inspire people to stop using plastic water bottles. Through July, BOMA is hosting installations with video talks about each artist’s work in ten buildings across the city. Take a self-guided tour of all ten installations to be inspired and make a change. 

Stop by the lobby of 151 Market Street to see fiber artist Kate Leibrand’s nautical tableau, “Choking Hazard,” crafted from post-consumer recycled plastic.

Or watch ceramic artist Benjamin Peterson spend the next two months creating a single person’s annual bottled water intake in the lobby of 3 Logan Square. He has set up a portable throwing wheel where he will create his installation, “156 Handmade Clay Bottles.” 

Buy reusable products

Philly has sustainable shops in many sections of the city, including Good Buy Supply in East Passyunk, United By Blue in Old City and University City, and Rays Reusables in Northern Liberties where you can shop for reusable products, and a plastic-free selection of everyday items.

Make simple swaps and start wherever you can on your plastics-free journey, knowing you are saving our most precious resource – our waterways.

Interested in learning other ways you can help reduce your environmental footprint? Check out our article on Four Ways to Minimize your Waste Footprint in Philadelphia or our list on 5 Things Philly Renters can do for the Environment.

Ray’s Reusables Brings Sustainable Shopping to Northern Liberties

In March, Ray Daly opened her first brick and mortar store, Ray’s Reusables, at 935 N. 2nd St in Northern Liberties after running her business on the road as Philadelphia’s first mobile refill shop.

“In 2020, I turned a cargo van into a traveling eco-store, bringing reusable, low-waste products to farmers’ markets in East Falls and Fairmount,” said Daly. In her white van, decorated with Ginko leaves, Ray’s Reusables was well received.

“With the flexibility and mobility of the van, I was able to go into different neighborhoods around the city, making sustainable shopping easier for eco-conscious Philadelphians,” she said. 

“But there were neighborhoods I could not reach due to many farmers’ markets limiting vendors to producers and also the narrowness of streets in certain sections of the City,” she said. Meanwhile, residents of Northern Liberties and Fishtown sought her out via Instagram. 

Refill station at Ray’s Reusables in Northern Liberties

“As soon as I opened the shop in Northern Liberties, they came,” said Daly. “Among the most popular products are UNpaper towels made out of cotton flannel in fun patterns,” she said. “The other products that are in demand are refills: organic hand soap, dish soap, laundry detergent, and body wash.” Other products include a cast iron conditioner, beeswax wrap, rosewater face cream, bamboo cutlery and brushes, natural toothpaste, and an all-purpose cleaner.

Why sustainability?

“Plastic production has increased dramatically since it first came on the scene. Between 1950 and 2019, approximately, 8.3 billion pounds of plastic were created. Only 9% of that total has been recycled. 79% is in landfills and, worse yet, in our oceans and other ecosystems,” said Daly. “I believe that as consumers we have the power to effect change. By investing in quality reusable and refillable solutions we also invest in the health of the environment.”

How it all started

A self-described “Air Force brat” who grew up in Maryland, Daly has traveled all over the world but, before moving to Philly in 2018, she had never lived in a large American city. 

“I came here with my husband whose family lives across the bridge in Jersey,” she said. “I had been teaching high school English in Maryland and working at Whole Foods when I decided to go in another direction.“

“I started by turning the pockets from my old jeans into something useful and beautiful – cutlery holders! But as I watched the pandemic unfold and saw the waste that was being created as a result, I realized I wanted to do even more to support the sustainable community. That’s why I decided to open up Philadelphia’s first mobile refill shop.”

Daly seized the moment, realizing that during the pandemic people preferred to shop outdoors rather than entering a shop. Farmers’ markets created the perfect opportunity. “My mission was to make plastic-free options accessible and affordable to people regardless of where they live in the City.”

“Now that I have a storefront, it gives me a lot more flexibility in what I can carry. I just expanded to face care refills and curly hair gel,” said Daly. Besides basing her business in Northern Liberties, Daly is looking forward to becoming a neighborhood resident in the near future.

The new brick-and-mortar location shop allows Ray to stock a wider array of products, and reach a new audience but on Saturdays and First Fridays, Daly will continue to take the shop on the road. Her goal? To make sustainable options more accessible for all.

Stop by 935 N. 2nd St to support this sustainable small business during their store hours Mon, Wed, Fri: 11am – 7pm; Saturday: 3pm – 6pm; and Sunday: 10am – 4 pm, or check out their calendar to see where the van will pop up next.

Love Where You Live: Eco-Friendly Valentine’s Day

This year, celebrate Valentine’s Day in a way that expresses your love for the planet. Instead of roses, consider giving personal experiences like a painting or cooking class. If like us, you love where you live, make an effort to patronize local businesses, and look for ways to support and improve your neighborhood. Below are some suggestions for you to have a more sustainable Valentine’s Day.

Sustainable Flowers

According to the International Council on Clean Transportation, for Valentine’s Day, 4 billion roses will be flown on cargo jets from Colombia, emitting more than 360,000 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Once they land in Miami, they are transported in refrigerated trucks burning diesel fuel.

Locally-grown tulips. Image: Jig-Bee Flower Farm

The “Slow Flower Movement” offers an ecological alternative – buy in-season flowers from small growers in your area. In Philly, that means Jig Bee Flower Farm which offers seasonal bouquets at The American Street Flower Market or at locations in Old City, East Falls, Kensington, and Fishtown. Order a Valentine’s Day bouquet with locally-grown tulips on their website, or subscribe to their weekly or monthly deliveries to your home to express your love throughout the year. 

Local Chocolates

Forget those heart-shaped boxes at CVS as well as Godiva. If you really want to get a heart beating faster, support a local business and check out the mouth-watering selection at John & Kira’s. Made in their North Philly kitchen under the supervision of French-trained Chef Angele Sticco, John & Kira’s uses ingredients from small local farms to flavor their unique chocolates. They offer Valentine’s Day assortments, including dark and milk chocolate ganache hearts, as well as Chocolate Dipped Figs and other delectables.

Hearts & Lovebugs Chocolates. Image: John & Kira’s

Give Him/Her a Class

Now here’s a gift that keeps on giving! Sign your partner up for an in-person or online Valentine’s cooking class at Cozy Meal. Choose from French, Italian, Vietnamese, and Vegetarian cuisine. 

Dish from Italian American Restaurant Favorites Class. Image: Cozymeal

Give the language of love with an Alliance Francaise daily online French class. 

Or the art of love at Fleisher Art Memorial in South Philly. Choose from Drawing, Painting, Printmaking, Photography, Ceramics, Fiber Art, Sculpture, Jewelry Making, and a special Valentine’s Paper Cutting Class.

Romantic Takeout

Why dine out on the one night of the year when restaurants are booked weeks in advance, short-staffed and noisy? Instead, take advantage of restaurants offering Valentine’s Day dinners for take-out and home delivery. All you add are the candles.

Charlie Was a Sinner and its sister restaurant Bar Bombon in the Gayborhood offers decadent, five-course, vegan dinners for two, with a bottle of sparkling rosé, a bouquet of local flowers, and vegan chocolates.

Fond in East Passyunk offer an array of Valentine’s take-out options, including Shrimp Cocktail, Crab Cakes, Beef Bourguignon, and Coconut Caramel Chocolate Truffles. Pre-order through Feb. 12th.

Valentine’s Day dish at Fond. Image: Fond

Talula’s Garden on Washington Square, considered one of the top farm-to-table restaurants in Philadelphia, has a five-course menu available for indoor dining, pick up, or delivery. It includes Lobster Risotto, Short Ribs, Polenta, and Berries with Whipped Cream and optional beverage pairings.

Patronize Local Sustainable Shops

To identify eco-friendly shops in your neighborhood, check Philly’s Sustainable Business Network. Their listings include Cake Life Bake Shop in Fishtown which offers special Valentine’s Day desserts. Also listed are LUHV Vegan Deli in Center City, Mariposa Food Coop in West Philly, and Frieda, a combination community cultural center and eatery in Society Hill.

Valentine’s Day Desserts. Image: Cake Life Bake Shop

For the marine animal lover in your life, anything your purchase from United By Blue will help clean the ocean, whether it’s candles or a backpack.

Good Buy Supply in East Passyunk focuses on eco-friendly goods. Image: Good Buy Supply

Or visit Good Buy Supply in East Passyunk where you can fill a tote bag with sustainable goodies, including goat milk Soap, a Luffa sponge, wax wraps, a bamboo toothbrush, and more.

Moon + Arrow in Bella Vista has many Valentine’s gifts made by local artisans. Give your loved one the pleasure of a Bodah Ritual Aromatherapy Eye-Pillow scented with lavender and chamomile. Or If you are head over heels, take a long look at their exquisite hand-crafted jewelry.

Bodah Eye Pillow. Image: Moon + Arrow

Steel Pony on Philly’s Fabric Row is a slow fashion women’s clothing boutique that specializes in hand-dyed, one-size-fits-all garments and handbags that are made to order, as well as ready-made items available online. This eco-friendly design company is run by a husband and wife team with the goal of creating beautiful fashions that are good for the environment. 

Do Good in Your Neighborhood

Valentine’s Day isn’t just about couples. It’s about loving your community. Here are some caring activities to do on your own, with a partner or your children.

Volunteer at an animal shelter to walk dogs. This is a fun activity, especially for those who cannot own or foster an animal at the present time. For info on volunteering, contact Philly Paws.

Express your love of animals by volunteering with an animal shelter. Image: Philly Paws

Volunteer at a food bank. They always appreciate an extra pair of hands. Or call a local food bank, ask what they need, and do a collection on your street.

Organize a neighborhood clean-up day. Chat with your block captain and neighbors to plan a day to clean up your block or join an existing neighborhood clean-up in your area.

Whether you choose to celebrate Valentine’s Day alone, with a partner, with family, or with friends, we encourage you to do it with love for your community and our planet in mind.

Looking for other ways you can be more sustainable? Check out our article on Four Ways to Minimize your Waste Footprint in Philadelphia or our list on 5 Things Philly Renters can do for the Environment.

Holiday Sustainability Tips

At Solo Real Estate, where sustainability is a year-round commitment, we want to help you celebrate the joys of the season while keeping the environment in mind. Here are some tips for a more sustainable holiday.

Keep It Real: Avoid Artificial Trees

If you are concerned about the environmental impact of Christmas trees, read on! A real tree spends around eight years growing in the field before it is harvested. So instead of being manufactured and shipped from China like an
artificial tree, a real tree converts CO2 into Oxygen, provides a habitat for wildlife, and keeps large tracts of space green across North America.

Unlike artificial alternatives, when you are done with a real tree, it is 100% recyclable and 100% biodegradable. When you choose a real tree, you put money back into the local economy. It supports your retailer and their
employees, as well as the growers who provide the trees.

After the holidays, recycle your tree at one of the Streets Department’s tree recycling drop-off locations throughout Philly or any one of the City’s Sanitation Convenience Centers. Local compost services like Bennett Compost and Circle Compost will also pick up and compost your tree for a fee. Remember to remove all lights and decorations before you recycle your tree!

Use LED lights to decorate your tree

Use LED lights to decorate your tree. They use at least 75 percent less energy than traditional lights and last 25 times longer. Avoid plastic decorations. Instead, visit Ten Thousand Villages, 1315 Walnut, for an excellent selection of Fair Trade Christmas tree ornaments. West Elm, 1330 Chestnut, also stocks  Fair Trade products including tree ornaments, Christmas stockings, tree skirts, and more. We love the hand-crafted, felt Silk Road tree ornaments at Moon & Arrow, 742 S. 4th Street.  Another place to find recycled tree decorations is at a thrift shop. If you have holiday lights to dispose of, take them to Mom’s Organic Market for recycling. They will accept holiday lights from November 26th through January 31st.

Choose Eco-Friendly Wrapping Paper

Forego commercial wrapping paper which sacrifices our already endangered woodlands. This year, consider using newspapers or magazines instead. For fashionistas, get creative and wrap gifts in the colorful New York Times Style Section. For investors, use the Wall Street Journal Stock Report. Or pick up a roll of recycled brown paper at a local shop and add a decorative touch with snippets of fresh ferns, holly berries, or candy canes.

Shop Local

Supporting local businesses is good for the environment in many ways. It reduces the transportation costs associated with your goods, and your carbon footprint while also helping the local economy and strengthening our communities. Here are a few more places to shop locally this holiday season:

Good Buy Supply on East Passyunk – Photo: goodbuysupply.co

East Passyunk’s Good Buy Supply is dedicated to plastic-free home, kitchen, and bath alternatives. Their offerings include all-natural bath bombs, beeswax food wraps, and a bulk bar of pretty refillable soaps. For foodies, consider a Minimalist Utensil Set or the No-Waste Vegetarian Cookbook.

United By Blue, 205 Race St, cleans trash from the ocean for every item purchased. Thoughtful gifts at every price point include recycled cashmere sweaters, backpacks, and pom beanies.

Moon & Arrow offers a selection of socially responsible, handmade, and vintage clothing, jewelry, accessories, and home furnishings. 

Moon and Arrow Ornaments

Nice Things Hand Made, LLC, 1731 E. Passyunk, is a creative boutique and gallery with ceramics, jewelry, clothing, and art by indie artists.  

Downerss 2026 Frankford Ave, is a women-owned and operated boutique in Fishtown, specializing in young contemporary clothing, vintage, vegan leather, handmade jewelry, and all-natural skincare products.

For more businesses to support, check out our Small Business Saturday guide highlighting local small businesses owned by Solo tenants.

However way you decide to celebrate this special season, Solo Real Estate wishes you a happy, healthy, sustainable New Year!

5 Energy-Efficient Home Improvements To Consider

Fall is the time to evaluate your home’s energy efficiency and make changes to shrink your carbon footprint, reduce climate change and lower your costs in the long run. Use the below guide as a checklist for home improvements to see what you can do to help Philadelphia reach its zero-waste goal.

Air Sealing

Reducing the amount of air that leaks in and out of your home or apartment is a cost-effective way to cut heating and cooling costs, improve durability, increase comfort, and create a healthier indoor environment. 

Caulking and weatherstripping windows and doors are two ways to lower your heating bill and prevent moisture from entering your living space. If you don’t want to go the DIY route, hire an energy assessor to test your home for airtightness. They will caulk and seal air leaks, not just in doors and windows, but also wherever plumbing or electrical wiring comes through walls, floors, and ceilings. They may also install foam gaskets behind the outlet and switch plates on the walls. While you’re at it, consider replacing single-pane windows with more energy-efficient double-pane windows.

For DIY tips on air-sealing, visit the Government’s Energy website.


Smart Thermostats

You probably already have a smartphone, smart speakers, and a smart security system. Now it’s time to use a smart thermostat that can be controlled from an app on your mobile phone. 

A smart thermostat allows you to change the temperature when you’re away from the home and schedule a warm welcome when you return. They also have sensors to send reports about your energy usage so you can know how much you are using. More importantly, they heat or cool your home more efficiently than regular thermostats and reduce your bills in the process.

Energy-Efficient Appliances

Top-rated appliance brands – Sub-Zero, LG, Frigidaire – now offer the Energy Star label on all home appliances, including refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, ovens, etc. Energy Star products are more than 75% energy-efficient than other appliances, saving energy and money. 

Energy Star rated appliances saved homeowners over 14 billion dollars in 2006 alone, and reduced national fossil fuel emissions during that year by the equivalent of 25 million cars. As those numbers are bound to increase as technology advances, it’s clear that Energy Star appliances are a plus for the environment and your pocketbook at the same time. 

For example, an Energy Star refrigerator may cost from $500 to over $3,000. According to the National Resource Defense Council, energy efficiency standards have already saved American homeowners about $2,000 per household. Energy Star appliances reduce greenhouse gases, water consumption, and our reliance on fossil fuels.

No matter what brand of washing machine and dryer you own, you can use it more efficiently. Start by washing your clothes in cold water.  Always clean the lint out of the dryer filter after each use, and remember to dry heavy and light fabrics separately. Use the highest spin cycle on your washing machine which removes more moisture and reduces the time needed to dry clothing. If possible, invest in a front-loading washer that saves more water and energy than top-loading washers. Consider buying a high-efficiency washing machine designed to save water and require less detergent.

Improve your Insulation

If your home is not well-insulated, it will trap more heat in the summer, and lose heat in the winter. This will require you to spend more energy on heating and air conditioning. Today, there are sustainable alternatives to the pink fiberglass insulation that was common in the past.

Recycled denim insulation, also known as natural cotton fiber insulation, is high-performance insulation that’s made from scraps and clippings from the manufacture of denim clothing. Yes, from the same factories that made your favorite jeans. This insulation is suitable for residential use in the same places as fiberglass would be used—between open roof rafters, ceiling joists, and wall studs.

Recycled denim insulation offers many advantages over traditional fiberglass insulation. It is 100 percent recyclable, diverts waste from landfills, results in higher efficiency and lower energy bills, provides 30 percent more indoor acoustics insulation, contains no volatile compounds, and does not cause respiratory infections.

The only downside? Denim insulation may cost twice as much as fiberglass. However, the benefits of removing asthma- and allergy-triggering toxins from a home’s indoor air outweigh the increased expense.

Shop Zero Waste Products

Philadelphia now has a one-stop shop that stocks all the zero-waste products you need. Good Buy Supply, 1737 East Passyunk Avenue, is the first Philly retail shop dedicated to low-waste, plastic-free alternatives for your bathroom, kitchen, home, and garden. Visit their shop in person or peruse the online store.

If you’re typically an Amazon shopper, consider switching to The Rounds for your household staples. The Rounds is a local zero-waste refill and delivery service that provides sustainable supplies like dish soap, glass cleaner, and even toilet paper free of plastic waste.

Please join us in safeguarding the environment by conserving energy and taking small steps at home that contribute to reducing your carbon footprint to create a more sustainable city.

Interested in learning other ways you can help reduce your environmental footprint? Check out our article on Four Ways to Minimize your Waste Footprint in Philadelphia or our list on 5 Things Philly Renters can do for the Environment. If you’re a Solo tenant or owner and want to sign up for a special 2 month trial offer from Bennett Compost, please e-mail us!

6 Ways To Be More Sustainable This Fall

Fall offers an opportunity to recommit to sustainability in your home. Whether you embark upon major improvements or small changes, every step you take helps Philly get closer to its zero-waste goal. See how many of the below energy-saving solutions you can check off your list.

Switch To LED Lighting

Today’s LED bulbs are a far cry from those limited, squiggly options of the past. Now they come in all shapes and sizes to coordinate with lighting fixtures in every room, including accent lighting, track lighting, and even candelabra chandeliers.

Candelabra with LED bulbs

This energy-saving alternative to incandescent bulbs will lower your electric bill by using only 10-watts to produce the same amount of light as an incandescent 60-watt bulb. While LED bulbs are initially more expensive, they have an exceptionally long life span, lasting more than ten years. Another benefit is that LEDs emit almost no heat or UV rays. They are usually not hot to the touch, making them safer to handle than incandescent bulbs. Plus, they can help reduce air conditioning costs and won’t cause nearby fabrics and furniture to fade. 

Choose a warm or soft white LED bulb for living rooms, bedrooms, and dining rooms. Bright white works best in kitchens and bathrooms. And, yes, fluorescent fixtures can be retrofitted with LED. HomeDepot provides a DIY guide on transitioning from incandescent fluorescent bulbs to LED.

Leave The Leaves, Or Compost Them

As trees begin to shed their foliage in the fall, consider leaving them on the ground or composting them instead of sending them to the landfill. Leaves left in the garden can be used as a mulch in vegetable gardens, flower beds, and around shrubs and trees. Leaving them to decompose will return valuable nutrients to the soil and using them as mulch can help insulate more delicate plants during the winter months.

If you are not able to simply leave them, fall leaves make for great composting material. They provide a rich source of carbon, and add significant quantities of trace minerals and plant nutrients to your backyard compost pile. Once we’re in peak leaf-peeping season, many local compost services like Bennett Compost and Circle Compost will also begin picking them up with a regular compost subscription service.

Recycle Your Closet

It’s not just your trash that needs to be recycled. It’s also your clothes! Instead of buying new clothing that depletes the environment, consider shopping at one of Philly’s many consignment shops, such as Greene Street, Addiction Studios, and ReMix.

Photo: Career Wardrobe

Consider donating any clothing that doesn’t fit or you no longer wish to keep to local consignment shops such as The Wardrobe at 413 North 4th Street aims to provide affordable attire for people who are seeking employment, are moving to independence after incarceration, or moving into recovery. They accept donations of clothing and accessories for men and women, including casual, professional, and dressy attire. 

Switch To Sustainable Candles 

Vellum Soap Company makes beeswax candles packaged in reused glass

As the days get shorter and nights longer, there’s nothing like candlelight to add warmth to a room. However, most candles on the market are made from paraffin wax, a product of petroleum refining. A more environmentally friendly choice is candles made from beeswax. Buy them locally to avoid the carbon costs of shipping. Try Bee Natural, LLC in the Reading Terminal Market or pick up one of Vellum Street Soap Company’s candles at any of the local handmade markets they vend at or any of their brick and mortar retailers. To encourage reuse, Vellum offers a $2 purchase credit to return any empty jars so they can be refilled and used again.

Wash Your Clothes In Cold Water

Up to 90% of the energy used by a washing machine goes toward heating water.  Skip the heating and use the cold water setting. This way, you reduce carbon dioxide emission and also keep your clothes in top condition longer, as hot water can make your colorful clothes less vibrant.

Unless you’re dealing with stubborn stains, there isn’t a point in running your washing machine on the hot water setting. If you feel the cold water setting doesn’t do a proper job, you can try the warm setting. 

Draft-proof Your Doors And Windows

Cold air enters your home through uninsulated spaces that can raise your heating bill and allow not just cold air in, but also moisture. Use weather stripping and/or caulking to seal windows and door frames. Hang thermal curtains which not only block drafts but also noise.  Use a cloth or plastic draft stopper on doors. Cloth draft stoppers, also called door snakes, can be simple cloth tubes filled with batting or decorative doggy-shaped draft blockers.

If you are a homeowner, consider upgrading to triple-insulated windows in which glass panes are spaced apart and hermetically sealed, leaving an insulating air space. Yes, they are pricey, but, in the long run, they reduce your heat bill and improve your energy efficiency.  They reduce energy loss by as much as 30% to 50%.

Another consideration is how the windows operate because some operating types have lower air leakage rates than others, which will improve your home’s energy efficiency. Windows that are hinged a the top and open outward or hinged at the bottom and open inward both have lower air leakage than sliding windows. 

Our Commitment To Sustainability

Deborah Solo with a recycling bin.
Solo Real Estate provides free recycling bins to tenants, owners, and clients

Solo Real Estate is committed to sustainability. Our love for our homes, neighborhoods, and city inspires us to take an active role in preserving the environment. Solo proudly provides sponsorship to numerous local organizations committed to environmental stewardship, including PHS, Emerald Wildflower Garden, Hancock Park, and other community spaces. We also encourage tenants to compost through a partnership with Bennett Compost, install green roofs on our properties when possible, and distribute Solo Recycling Bins to tenants and clients. Thank you for joining us in our effort to help meet Philly’s Zero-Waste goals.

Interested in learning other ways you can help reduce your environmental footprint? Check out our article on Four Ways to Minimize your Waste Footprint in Philadelphia or our list on 5 Things Philly Renters can do for the Environment. If you’re a Solo tenant or owner and want to sign up for a special 2 month trial offer from Bennett Compost, please e-mail us!

Remark Glass: Raise Your Glass to Zero Waste

If you rinse every glass jar and bottle before placing it in your recycling bin, we have some bad news. Only 33% of that glass is actually recycled. The rest ends up in landfills. Now for the good news. Sister companies, Remark Glass and Bottle Underground, are determined to close the loop and make Philly a national leader in recycled glass.


Founded in 2016 by three talented glass artists, Remark Glass doesn’t just recycle glass, they repurpose it. In their studio in the Bok Building in South Philly, co-founders Danielle Ruttenberg, Rebecca Davies, and Mark Ellis, turn used bottles into stunning light fixtures, barware, dinnerware, and decorative bowls. “One of our top selling items is Keepsake Glass, commemorative bottles from a graduation, wedding, or anniversary that we turn into a serving bowl or a light fixture,” said Danielle who graduated from Tyler School of Art and previously operated a glass art business in Port Richmond. “We also work in our showroom with designers on light fixtures for homes and restaurants. Forin Café which is scheduled to open in June in Fishtown is buying recycled glassware from us,” she said. Their one-of-a-kind housewares also make a great housewarming gift for a new homeowner. Shop the available selection on their online shop or consider a custom project.


As the first business in Philadelphia to be certified zero waste, Remark came up with a unique concept to bypass the shortcomings of the City’s glass recycling system. They created Bottle Underground, the non-profit arm of Remark, which offers an environmentally sustainable alternative to dumping used glass in landfills. “Bottle Underground offers pick-up service,” said Danielle. “We supply you with a bin to collect your glass. We just ask that you make sure all your glass is rinsed and there is no residue. You can leave the labels on. We take care of that. Once a month we will pick up your glass and return your empty bin.” There is a charge for the monthly pick-up service. “We are trying to make this as affordable as possible on a sliding scale for restaurants and corporations,” said Danielle. “We also welcome one-time drop-offs of clean, used, unbroken glass
bottles at our headquarters in the Bok Building. Just call in advance to schedule your delivery,” said Danielle.
“We accept any clean glass container and anything that has a reusable lid. We love Champagne bottles because the glass is thicker. We also look for blue glass and specialty colors,” she said.

A piece of glass being shaped into a new item. Image courtesy of Remark Glass.

Turning bottles into art

“Prepared pieces are placed in our kiln and heated to 1050 degrees Fahrenheit – this is considered warm in glass – the temperature is stable and the glass is still in its solid state. From there, our team picks up the pieces, one at a time, on the end of a steel rod. The glass is rotated and heated in a 2000-degree reheating chamber, then tools are used at the bench to transform the material to its new shape,” explained Danielle. “Once the final shape is achieved, our team knocks the piece off the rod, stamps it with our logo, and carefully places it back into the kiln.” Co-founder Mark Ellis studied glass at the Tyler School of Art and worked in high-end glass and metal fabrication for over a decade. At Remark, he specializes in glass blowing and metal fabrication. Rebecca Davies, Mark’s wife, received an MFA at the University of the Arts, then worked at a blown glass lighting company. “We all pitch in,” said Danielle. “We have eight employees and everyone does their part to achieve our mutual goal. To build a better future and support the overall well-being of their community”. Remark Glass also strives to support the local economy by working with local businesses that share the same values.

Danielle Ruttenberg, Mark Ellis, and Rebecca Davies pose for a picture with glass bottles. Image courtesy of Remark Glass.

So, as Summer officially opens with coolers filled with beer and wine, think twice before tossing those bottles and consider dropping them off to Bottle Underground for reuse by Remark Glass instead. Reducing waste by composting food scraps, recycling what you can, and repurposing glass containers can help Philly achieve its zero-waste goal.

Interested. in learning other ways you can help reduce your environmental footprint? Check out our article on Four Ways to Minimize your Waste Footprint in Philadelphia or our list on 5 Things Philly Renters can do for the Environment.