How to Be a Better Philadelphian: Save the Earth

Help save the Earth and get paid for recycling. What could be better?

Plant Something
Since 1974, Philadelphia Green, a program of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, has partnered with community groups and volunteers to develop and care for community gardens, parks and high-profile public spaces in the city, green-ifying Philly one piece of flora at a time. To volunteer, pick a date and a garden from the website, RSVP, and show up on the workday. 215-988-8800,


Get paid to recycle — it’s that simple, really. RecycleBank, a venture of two Philly natives, Ronald Gonen and Patrick Fitzgerald, tested its incentive-based recycling program in Chestnut Hill and West Oak Lane this past year with tremendous success. Now more neighborhoods are being included — maybe even yours.

DO: Find out if your neighborhood is participating at

GIVE: Businesses can step up to provide the incentives, usually gift certificates for products or services. 888-RB-PAYSU,

Fair Food
A program of Judy Wicks’s White Dog Community Enterprises, Fair Food acts as a liaison between area chefs and farmers, operates the Fair Food Farmstand in Reading Terminal Market, and coordinates Philly’s Buy Fresh, Buy Local campaign.

DO: Buy from the Fair Food Farmstand. Pick up a copy of the 2007-2008 Philadelphia Local Food Guide, available by e-mailing

GIVE: A suggested donation of $100. 215-386-5211,

The Schuylkill Center
This environmental education center provides green-living seminars for adults and summer camps for children, and works in partnership with the Green Woods Charter School, teaching the next generation of environmental caregivers. The center also runs a wildlife rehabilitation clinic, a land restoration department and an environmental art program.

DO: Attend a green-living seminar.

GIVE: Individual membership starts at $40. 215-482-7300,

This organization advocates for solutions to problems like pollution, sprawl, global warming and more.

DO: Visit PF’s online Legislative Action Center, where you can see current campaigns and send e-mails to local legislators.

GIVE: Individual membership is $30; give $1,000 and you join the PennFuture Leadership Circle. 215-545-9692,

The Pennsylvania Environmental Council
The PEC specializes in finding and advocating for innovative new programs and policies to solve the state’s most pressing environmental problems.

DO: Check the website for upcoming educational events.

GIVE: Individual membership starts at $50. 215-592-7020,

Pennsylvania Resources Council
Founded in 1939, the PRC is the oldest citizen-action environmental group in the state. (In fact, it created the Litterbug character, in the 1950s.) Today, it promotes conservation and protection of our resources in collaboration with government agencies, businesses and other charitable organizations.

DO: Drop off hard-to-recycle items (major appliances, ink cartridges, electronics) at a PRC collection event; attend a PRC workshop on environmentally friendly topics like composting or harvesting rainwater; help with what the group really needs now — someone to wear the Litterbug costume at public events and school visits!

GIVE: Individual membership is $30. 610-353-1555,

Urban Green Partnership
The Urban Green Partnership gave us September’s GreenFest Philly (and its brilliant slogan: “Party like there IS a tomorrow!”). The free festival brought together more than 150 green vendors, activists, builders, architects, environmental lawyers and other champions of green living and sustainability. Its next endeavor is the “Big Green Building,” which aims to be the greenest urban mixed-use building in the world, at Broad and South streets.

DO: Contact the UGP to find out how to use your skills (web developing, grant-writing, etc.) as a volunteer.

GIVE: If everyone in the Philly area gave $5, the UGP could help educate six million people about how to save $180 a year on their utility bills. 215-764-6182,

Clean Air Council
The Council is celebrating its 40th year of work on issues relating to indoor and outdoor air pollution, transportation, energy and waste.

DO: Run in the Clean Air Council’s annual 5K, held in April; volunteer to be part of whatever advocacy campaign you feel passionate about.

GIVE: Individual membership is $40; $150 designates you as a Sustaining Supporter. 215-567-4004,