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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.

Repurposing


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.

Recycling


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.

Cycling In The City

May is National Bike Month and Philly cyclists have reasons to celebrate. Our City has made biking safer and more accessible thanks to the lobbying efforts of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and Mayor Jim Kenney. We applaud these efforts because biking is good for the environment, your health, and your wallet. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cyclist, we want to give you the tools and tips to stay safe, enjoy the ride, and pedal it out.

Take a class


Indego, Philly’s Bike Share Program, offers a free, ten-minute Learn to Ride video as well as a 90-minute Zoom course on the rules of the road, riding safely in traffic, making sure your helmet fits, planning your route, and more. This class is relevant to bicyclists of all skill levels but is most important for beginners.

The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia has monthly Learn to Ride classes for anyone over 18, April through October. Whatever your experience or age this class is a positive and encouraging setting to start building your bike riding skills. Don’t have a bike? No problem. You can rent a bike from Wheel Fun, on Boat House Row where classes start. Classes start with learning how to balance and practicing in the Azalea Garden behind the Art Museum before venturing onto the bike path along Kelly Drive. Private lessons are available.

Renting or Buying?


If you are not ready to purchase a bike, take advantage of Indego’s bike-share program, featuring hundreds of bright blue rental bicycles and white electric- assist bikes at over 140 stations around the City, accessible 24/7. You can check out a bike using a mobile app. Indego is celebrating Bike Month with reduced
fees. Check it out at www.rideindego.com/buy-a-pass/#/

Want your own wheels? Bicycle Therapy at 2211 South is a full-service independent bicycle shop. With over 28 years of experience, the shop’s friendly and knowledgeable staff will help you find a bike that matches your level of experience and budget.

Transport Cycles, located at Building Bok in South Philly and in South Kensington at 1315 N. Howard St, sells bikes for the serious aficionado, ranging in price from $475 to $1,200. Shop their online store and stop in for a free test ride.

Image: Transport Cycles

Feeling less Lance Armstrong and more in the market for a Schwinn? Pick up your easy rider by browsing the used bikes at Liberty Bicycles or on Facebook Marketplace.

Happy Trails

Over 300 miles of dedicated circuit trails for cyclists, linking Philadelphia with scenic routes to Valley Forge, Bucks County and Pennsylvania Dutch Country are in existence thanks to the efforts of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and the William Penn Foundation. When completed, the Circuit Trails will include over 800 miles connecting urban, suburban and rural communities.

One of the most accessible routes is the 120 mile Schuylkill River Trail winding from the City to Manayunk and beyond. Meanwhile, West River Drive will continue to be a cyclist’s paradise, devoid of cars, until Labor Day 2021 when it will revert to its former schedule of being closed to traffic only on Saturdays and Sundays.

The best way to experience these trails is to participate in rides sponsored by the Philadelphia Bicycle Club. Traveling with other cyclists promotes safety, as well as deepening your knowledge of biking and expanding your social horizons. Besides weekly group rides, starting from the Art Museum, the Bike Club offers longer monthly rides with opportunities to explore intriguing destinations.

On May 21 st, the Bike club hosts a 3-day tour of the Susquehanna Valley, cycling through the countryside and quaint towns. Experience the Lebanon Valley Rail Train on June 12th and on August 7th the annual Chocolate Tour pedals through Amish country to benefit the treatment of pediatric cancer at CHOP and the Hershey Medical Center. Want to escape the heat? Consider the August 29 Brandywine Tour through horse farm country in Chester County. For all Philadelphia Bike Club events, visit their event calendar.

Safer Streets/Safer Bikes


When Mayor Kenney ran for office, he pledged to create 40 miles of protected bike lanes by 2026. As a result, Philly has its first raised bike lane, over six feet wide, with a concrete buffer on North American Street. Plans are also underway to make Washington Street in South Philly safer for cyclists by reducing the five-lane road to three lanes with a protected bike lane.

American Street – Image courtesy of Philadelphia Bicycle Coalition

To protect your bike from theft, you need more than a good lock. Record your bicycle’s serial number and take photos of yourself with your bicycle, so you can prove ownership if it is stolen. Call your police district to see if they offer bicycle registration services. Besides the best lock, you can afford, consider GPS tracking devices for bike owners. Your local bike shop will help you identify the best products to keep your bike safe.

After a year of pandemic isolation, we encourage you to take advantage of Philly’s abundant cycling trails, classes and clubs. Cycling is good for your health and it’s great for our City.

Your Guide to Earth Day: 15 Things To Do For Earth Day in Philadelphia

The theme of Earth Day 2021 is “Together, We Can Restore Our Earth, ” and we couldn’t agree more with the sentiment behind it. While there are many ways to participate in Earth Day, by coming together with a common goal we can collectively contribute to making our city more sustainable and beautiful. This year consider participating in one of the many educational, cultural and communal activities happening all over Philadelphia. Read on for a list of 15 activities happening throughout the city for Earth Day this year. 

Fishtown Earth Day Celebration  – April 24, 9am-12pm

The Fishtown Neighbors Association is hosting a clean-up, “Kindness Rocks Art Project”, Spring “Seed-Bomb” Scavenger Hunt, and Mindfulness Sessions at the Fishtown Rec Center. They will also have a few Solo recycling bins on hand for residents to take home! Pre-register online for each activity.

Learn from the Lenape – April 22, 3-5 pm 

Hike in the Wissahickon Valley Park to the 15-foot high marble statue of Native American Lenape leader Teedyuscung which dates back to 1902. A member of Friends of the Wissahickon will lead a discussion on the land ethnic of the Lenape. Meet at Forbidden Drive & Bells Mill Road.

Virtual Cooking Class – April 21 – 2:30-3:30pm

Join 12th Street Catering for a virtual cooking class featuring a fully vegetarian menu to celebrate Earth Day. Attendees will be guided with live video instruction from executive chef Adam DeLosso of Jose Garces Restaurant Group during this one-hour event. Register here: https://12th-street-catering-virtual-cooking-classes.square.site/

Academy of Natural Sciences – April 23-25, 10 am — 5 pm

In celebration of Earth Day, families are invited to visit the museum and learn about ways to conserve resources to help animals’ habitats. Take home a craft kit to make a useful item out of recycled materials.

Grow Clean Water – April 24 – 10:00 am – 3:30 pm

Rodale Institute, a leader in organic farming, invites families to meet at the Viaduct, a “secret garden” under Philadelphia’s Reading Viaduct Rail Park. Learn about growing and planting seedlings, create art and explore a worm bin. 

Ask the Experts – Sustainable Home Gardening – April 22 – 7-8pm

Landscape architect Rob Fleming and landscape designer Christopher Sohnly will present environmentally diverse design, planting, restoration, and maintenance practices to add value and diversity to your garden. Co-sponsored by the Chestnut Hill Conservancy and Chestnut Hill Community Association. Free but registration is required. Contact info@chconservancy.org

Outdoor Movie at Drexel – April 22 – 9 pm

Watch the Disney movie “Earth,” a global journey about the impact of climate change on animals. Race Hall Lawn, 3300 Race St. Hosted by Drexel University’s Campus Activities Board.  Bring a lawn chair, blanket and popcorn. Everyone is welcome.

Griot Tale Storytelling – April 24 – 1 pm – Franklin Square

The African American Museum in Philadelphia is partnering with Franklin Square for a special outdoor Earth Day storytime.  Told by a Griot (an African oral historian), this free and engaging event is perfect for children ages 5-12.

Herb Gardening for Beginners – April 22 – 5-7 pm – 20 N. American St.

Christ Church Neighborhood House hosts an evening in the garden for amateur plant lovers. $25 ticket includes: Herb seedling and seed packets, beginners seed starting booklet, and hot herbal tea for refreshment. Class fee: $25

Earth Day in the Food Forest – April 22 – 1-3 pm – 300 Northwestern Ave.

The Wissahickon Environmental Center invites you to lend a hand as they clear invasive plants from the Philadelphia Orchard Project Food Forest. Tasks include mulching, laying path borders and watering.  Children welcome.

Earth Day Project in Fairmount Park – April 24 – 10 am – 12 noon

Celebrate Earth Week in the forests and meadows of East Fairmount Park. Join Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and Audubon Pennsylvania to plant trees and remove invasive vines. All tools and materials will be provided- including work gloves. Age 16 and up.

Naturepalooza – April 24 – 10m – 3 pm 

The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education invites you to hike their trails, explore their ponds and learn the importance of native plants. Family friendly activity tables along the way. 8480 Hagy’s Mill Road.

Environmental Justice Earth Day – April 22 – 5-7 pm

Join a socially distanced, peaceful picket line at the SEPTA Midvale Complex. The goal is to shut down SEPTA’s gas plant and to plant thousands of trees around the perimeter of SEPTA’s property and throughout the neighborhood. Meet at Wissahickon Ave. & Roberts Road in East Falls. 

National Geographic Earth Day Eve Celebration – April 21 – 8:30 pm

Performances by artists Willie Nelson, Yo-Yo Ma, and Ziggy Marley, and environmental activists such as Dr. Jane Goodall. You can join at National Graphic.

Earth Day Live: Restore Our Earth – April 22 – Beginning at noon

This live stream event will feature a variety of global celebrities, politicians, and activists from many fields. To take part, visit EarthDay.org on the day of the event.

Whether you choose to plant a tree, clean up a vacant lot, or learn about sustainable gardening you will be helping to heal the planet. Just remember that you don’t have to wait until Earth Day to contribute —  there are lots of simple choices you can make in your everyday life to help reduce waste and lead more sustainable lives.

PHS South St Pop Up Garden Returns

Do you want butterflies with that? The answer is yes at Philadelphia Horticultural Society’s PHS Pop Up Garden, 1438 South Street, opening April 1, 2021. This is the fourth year PHS’s urban oasis of lush foliage, tasty food, and drink is sponsored by Solo Real Estate. 

“We have partnered with PHS South Street Pop Up since 2018,” said Solo Real Estate president Deborah Solo. “This is our local neighborhood and we have strong community ties here. Green energy and sustainability have been very important to Solo Real Estate for some time.  We are recyclers, composters, and advocators of green roofs. PHS aligns with what we feel is really important.”

Now about those butterflies. PHS Pop Up Gardens don’t just offer frozen mojitos and spicy nachos in a lively social setting. They also provide pollinator plants, including Fothergilla, Erysimum, Anemone, and Primula Veris for the purpose of attracting butterflies and bees back into the urban environment. 

The goal is to provide sufficient food (nectar and pollen) to reverse the decline of bees and monarch butterflies in our City. Bees are not only essential for the reproduction of many flowering plants but are also responsible for pollinating agricultural crops. Meanwhile, the population of Monarch butterflies has declined 90% over twenty years. 

Pollinator decline is attributed primarily to loss of habitat – farmland and open fields converted into housing developments – and to the use of pesticides. Weeds, such as milkweed, that once grew adjacent to crops and provided food for bees and butterflies are now eradicated by insecticides.

While butterflies are attracted to the PHS Garden, adults and children are drawn to delicious food and drink provided by Cantina Los Caballitos and Khyber Pass Pub. The food menu has something for everyone – vegetarian and carnivore. Kids can enjoy hot dogs, chicken tenders, and fries, while adults choose from a wide variety of light fares, including Garden Burgers, Nashville Hot ChickenWrap, and Mexican Shrimp Cocktail. Speak of cocktails, the bar menu offers a tantalizing selection of botanical cocktails, wines, sangria, and craft beer. Try a Pink Peppercorn Paloma – tequila, pink grapefruit, pink peppercorn, and lime. Or a Frozen Frosé – Aperol, Rosé, and lemon. Plus, non-alcoholic options.

Cocktail available at the PHS pop up on South Street sponsored by Solo Real Estate.
Image courtesy of PHS.

One of the highlights of the PHS South Street PopUp Garden is the plant and seed giveaways sponsored by Solo Real Estate. “We distribute plants and bulbs on a weekly basis, along with detailed instructions,” said Sharon Tice DelCotto, PHS Business Development Consultant. “Each month features a different plant. In April, PHS will give away Gladiolus Bulbs. In May, June and July, it will be Geraniums, Coleus, Gerber Daisies, etc.” 

“PHS Pop Up Gardens started in 2010 with the goal of transforming highly visible vacant lots into gardens that serve as a valuable community resource. Since then, we have had Pop Up locations all over the City,” said Tice DelCotto. “This year, we just have two locations, South Street and Manayunk. New for 2021, visitors will have the opportunity to book private spaces in the garden for groups celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, and other events.”

Image courtesy of Rachel Wisniewski for PHS.

The atmosphere is like a backyard party with all the safety precautions to provide proper social distancing, mask-wearing, and contactless service. The number of visitors is limited and facemasks must be worn by adults and children until they are seated. To ensure safety, you can order and pay for your food and drinks on your mobile phone. 

PHS was founded in 1827. In 2019, the non-profit organization became fully committed to using horticulture to advance the health and well-being of the Greater Philadelphia region. This includes creating healthy living environments, increasing access to fresh food, expanding economic opportunity, and building meaningful social connections. The Pop Up Gardens benefit the many programs of PHS, including City Harvest, which brings together a network of community gardeners who raise fresh, healthy food for more than 1,200 families in need each week. For Solo Real Estate, the connection with PHS reflects our commitment to sustainability, the environment, and the community.

The PHS South Street Pop Up is wheelchair accessible and pet-friendly. Open Monday-Thursday, 5-10 pm; Friday-Sunday, Noon-10pm.