(Happy) Homeless News of the Day – A Large-Scale Recyclable Clothing Program and a Garden

Image credit: New York Times

One from the U.S. and one from the U.K. today!

The New York Times reports that NYC is instigating a program in which convenient recycling bins will be placed throughout the city in order to make it easier to donate used clothing, rather than just throwing it away.  This could potentially double the amount of donations that local homeless shelters receive, right off the bat, and grow even further from there.  Unwearable clothing will be refashioned into “wiping cloths, insulation, and sound-dampening materials for cars, carpet padding or seat stuffing,” while buttons and zippers can be reused on new items of clothing.

This all means that over 90% of what is donated will be kept out of a landfill.  Plus, it’s a much more socially conscious option than, say, shredding old clothes so that homeless and impoverished individuals can’t use them. I commend NYC for taking this initiative!

* * * * *

You may also know that I’m an “honorary Englishwoman” after staying with my friend Vicki and her daughter Alice in London.  Well, the Chelsea Flower Show is taking place in Battersea Park, right next to her home (I went walking there with her several times).

There’s a formerly homeless, ex-heroin addict named Paul Pulford, aka “Scruffy”, featured on the BBC, along with his group, Grounded, who have taken part in the flower show this year. The group is comprised of current/former/recovering homeless, drug addicts, and those coping with mental illness.

I highly encourage you to watch the video at the link; it’s fascinating to see how a common interest as simple as gardening has helped this man and so many others come together and helped them turn their lives around.  The symbolism of them choosing mainly wildflowers and other unconventional plants that might otherwise be considered undesirable or “weeds” also was not lost on me.  Too many homeless individuals struggling with mental illness, drug abuse, or other horrific challenges are written off as impossible to help.  Scruffy and the Grounded participants prove that this is simply untrue.

You can read more about and see a 3D tour of Grounded’s garden, called Places of Change, here. Please take a few seconds out of your day to vote for Places of Change to win the People’s Choice Award at the Chelsea Flower Show. They came in second last year; I think this is their year to take first prize, don’t you?

* * * * *

P.S.  Still wading through my inbox; but I have created a Facebook account where readers can follow me, in addition to my Twitter account!  Thanks so much to everyone who’s asked to add my private page on FB, but my personal account is mainly for friends and coworkers that I know…I’m working on getting back to you all and thanking you for your sweet emails, and will be sending the link to the new FB account along in my responses, but in the meantime please feel free to just add me there!



  1. Very big fan of your website. Only wanted to let you know.

  2. I love reading your blog! It really makes me appreciate what I have right now. Keep writing!
    Also, please continue the updates on your book… thanks!

  3. What a great idea to set out recycling bins around the city!

  4. Bri, thanks so much for posting the bit about the garden. When I was homeless in Ojai, I was trying to start a Homeless Co-operative Herb Garden (the idea was to grow herbs to sell @ the Farmer’s Market). Sadly, that never materialized. I was thrilled to see that The Eden Project folks are involved w/ Scruffy’s garden. They were the people, who revitalized the Lost Gardens of Heligan ( http://www.heligan.com/) I happened to have read a book about that project and have been asking all of my family & friends, who have been traveling to England, to please visit it. You know, it reminds me of my favorite childhood book, “The Secret Garden” and the healing powers that gardening has.

  5. Thanks for the information. You are doing a wonderful job communicating your message. Keep up the good writing.

Leave a Reply to BBG London Cancel reply