5 ‘green’ freebies in Philly

Living a sustainable lifestyle doesn’t have to be expensive to benefit the planet. Did you know that Philly has five programs to make environmental action accessible to you?


A garden at Smith Playground in South Philadelphia. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

This story originally appeared on Green Philly.

Living a sustainable lifestyle doesn’t have to be expensive and mean you have to buy new things to benefit the planet. Did you know that Philadelphia has five programs to make environmental action accessible to you? Keep on reading to cash out these winnings.

1. Free Trees

Now that the seasons have changed and the weather’s warming up, the leaves have returned! Trees not only beautify our community, but trees provide a habitat for wildlife and absorb carbon dioxide to release oxygen.

In an urban setting where green spaces are quickly disappearing, trees are valuable and you can get them for free! You can request a free yard tree or street tree through Philadelphia’s Parks and Recreation program, TreePhilly.

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2. Free Rain Barrels

When it rains, it can pour and you can use all that excessive rainwater by storing it! Rain barrels are containers that connect to the downspout that catches stormwater runoff from your roof. By having a rain barrel, you can use that extra water to clean outside or to water your plants.

The Philadelphia Water Department offers rain barrels for free with no added cost for installation through their Rain Check program. Participants are only required to attend a workshop before they get the barrel installed. The barrels are low maintenance and you can find the action steps on their site.

If you want to go beyond the rain barrel, the Rain Check programs also the opportunity to take on projects like rain gardens, downspout planters, and permeable paving

3. Free Recycling Bins

We should also reduce and reuse before we recycle, and right now it feels like recycling is dead as we know it. Not all hope is lost! Philadelphia has a new recycling program with Waste Management that goes into effect in May, hopefully stopping half of our recyclables from being burned. For the items that you can’t reduce, reuse, or compost; recycle what’s left.

If you don’t own a recycling bin, you can get one for free by request through the Philadelphia Streets Department. Check out our recycling guide to avoid contamination and wish-cycling.

4. Free compost (AKA organic materials)

Do you want to compost but need help getting started? You can get free screened leaf compost, mulch, wood chips, and other recyclable materials through the Fairmount Park Organic Recycling Center.

You can look back at one of our posts about how composting works for more information.

5. Stop junk mail: Free no-circular sticker

Circulars feel almost unavoidable in the city. You can come home after a long day and see takeout menus and flyers shoved into your door or mail slot. Not only is this creating more trash, but they often get blown into the streets. There is a way to stop it, though.

Add yourself to L&I’S “Non-Delivery” list. You can either download a form or call L&I at 215-686-2414 to have them mail it to you. Fill out the form and mail or fax it to them. Once processed, you will receive a sticker that you can post on your front door.

The effectiveness is up to you. It’s your responsibility to report each violator to L&I. Offenders would initially get a warning and a fine if it happens again. The cost of a fine acts as a deterrent.

Consider who you may be affecting, as some business may not even know they are breaking a law for the distribution whether out of ignorance or language barrier. If you feel the reporting is too hard, also try contacting the business directly and letting them know if they’re a repeat offender.

These may seem like small things, but every act can have a big impact. What other freebies do you know in Philly? Let us know below!

WHYY is one of 22 news organizations producing Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project on solutions to poverty and the city’s push towards economic justice. Follow us at @BrokeInPhilly.

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