Each quarter, GreenStar selects three local not-for-profits to be the recipients of our Bring Your Own Bag, Use It for Good program donations. Our BYOB program encourages shoppers to bring their own bags by providing them with a token worth 5¢ that they can donate to one of the chosen organizations. At the end of the quarter, we make a donation to the groups based on the number of tokens given by our customers. This quarter, our recipients are the Free Science Workshop, the Lilypad Puppet Theater, and Meadowgate Equine Rescue.

Free Science Workshop allows underrepresented and low-income youth to explore science at their own pace. Through hands-on activities, free-choice projects, and drop-in hours, youth truly direct their own education. Free Science Workshop defies description, but imagine Doc Brown’s workshop in “Back to the Future,” chock full of machines and wild inventions, then add a fantastic menagerie of animals, plants, skeletons, and collections reminiscent of a natural history museum. Stock it with tools, loads of raw materials, kind volunteers, and throw open the doors for kids to make the space their own: and voila, you have a science workshop!

There is something magical about a space where kids can be free. Free to have their own ideas, find out about the world around them, make and think because they want to. Free Science Workshop is home to drop-in kids who would otherwise be glued to the TV, but now can choose to do real things. Some youth visit nearly every open day, seeking an oasis away from school and home. As there is no need to have money, enrollment paperwork, or support from a parent, youth are free to come over when they want to. Located at 210 Hancock Street, the workshop is easily accessible by bus, bike, or by foot. Every participant benefits from the chance to pursue their interests, fail and try new things, and expand their horizons, all in a caring and supportive environment.

After visiting Free Science Workshop, 78 percent of participants are more interested in science and engineering, and 95 percent feel more capable. Through your thoughtfulness of bringing your own bag, you are helping to increase science equity in Ithaca. For more information, or to volunteer, visit their website.

Are you involved with a not-for-profit organization that might benefit from this program? Apply to be a recipient here.