Saturday, July 31, 2010

Recycled goodies

I went to the Red Hot Art Festival in Stevens Square in Minneapolis today specifically to track down a Makeshift Accessories recycled business-card case. Devin Johnson had three for sale, and they are one-of-a-kind works of art. The one I bought has a body made from copper roofing, the lid is from a brass mailbox and the sprocket is from a fire sprinkler.

Says Devin: There is no negative environmental impact from the production of any of my pieces. Most metal is pulled from the recycler before it is heated and melted down. This eliminates the carbon emissions that would be released if the metal was not salvaged. All of my leftover scrap is used for smaller applications or recycled.

I also got these earrings from Paraselenic Studios, Recycled Curiosities, made from capacitors (from the University of Kansas physics department) and retaining rings used in small machinery.

Artist Laura Connor said she and artist husband Aaron find material everywhere -- lots of their bolts are found just by looking down when they're walking around. Turns out parking lots are full of bolts.

And a big display of buttons with a sign saying "only $1!" caught my eye. Sarah Byrnes gets her 1950s and '60s images from magazines such as Highlights for Children, Boy Scout Handbooks, catalogs and children's books. Sometimes she hits the jackpot and finds a huge stash in someone's basement, or a family member cleaning out a collection at school gives them to her.

And then, my money spent, I headed home. Because earlier today I manned the zero-waste station at the Mill City Farmers Market for six hours, starting at 7:30 a.m. And those of you who know me know that is way early for me. The new zero-waste setup (three unmanned disposal stations with one central manned station (below)) isn't ideal, but because of a lack of volunteers, the market had to pare down its goals.

An unmanned station (below). See the small metal container? That's now for compost -- it used to be that the compost bins were all the big green carts, reflective of how much compost we'd divert from the trash. But if the station isn't manned, people tend to overlook the signage and throw their stuff into whatever bin they see, which contaminates the compostables.

So today I went back and forth between my station and the disposal station near the Guthrie stairs where a lot of people eat, pulling compostables out of the trash. At 10:30, Kathy and her kids, Tom and Lin, arrived, and I was so happy to see them! Kathy dives right in like I do, digging through the trash with abandon, and her kids are no slouches either. Together we saved most of the compostables from the trash today. Thanks, Kathy, Tom and Lin!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I'm documenting our kitchen trash

We use a plastic ice cream pail under the sink for "true trash," which is anything that's not compostable or recyclable. I want to see how many weeks it takes to fill it (and yes, I will squish it down to get more in). Here's the starting point Sunday July 18.

And here's from this past Sunday.

Here's hoping I don't break any large ceramic dishes!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A visit to Moss Envy's new store

Moss Envy (formerly Twin Cities Green) moved to new digs in Calhoun Village recently, and it's a very nice space and high-traffic location for them. They carry eco-friendly gifts, furniture, home decor, kitchen supplies, clothing for adults and kids, jewelry, bath and body products, mattresses, building materials and lots more cool stuff!
Owner Ryan North says he loves the store's local merchandise and that customers are drawn to the locally made goods, too. Since he and wife Tina entered the eco-retail scene with their first store, Re Gifts, in 2006, Ryan said he's seen awareness of and interest in environmentally friendly goods grow. Read more about them and their store here.

I love these informational labels!

All you need to make your next event fully compostable!

They even carry my favorite compost bin.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Read and recycle at Wild Rumpus

I just discovered that Wild Rumpus children's bookstore in Linden Hills has a section for recycling books you don't want anymore. How cool is that! You can get cash or store credit for your books, and then the books are sold for $1. Details here.

Co-owner Collette Morgan says that the store has sold 7,973 recycled books so far this year and that they practically fly off the shelves.

The store has animals wandering the aisles (although the chickens being held by these boys weren't doing any wandering just then).

A very inviting store

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Recycling mecca: A pictorial tour

The Coon Rapids Recycling Center (aka recycling mecca) is open Wed. and Sat. from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. In case you can't make it there yourself, here're some pictures to give you an idea of what it's like.

Pop 12-pack boxes (these can't be recycled curbside in most cities (except ones Eureka Recycling services) because the cardboard contains a wet-strength additive)

Hardcover books (highest-quality paper makes hardcover books very valuable for recycling)

Scrap metal

Scrap metal of all shapes and sizes!

Glass bottles (separated by color), aluminum cans (steel cans go in the scrap-metal bin) and #1 plastic (black #1 plastic collected separately)

The #1 plastics bin is practically filled to the top!

#5 plastic

Plastics are sorted by type in these bins

The Baler

Plastic bags (imagine how many thousands are in each baled bundle)

Corrugated cardboard

Oil filters

Mixed paper

Plastic bags prior to being baled

Baled #5 plastics

Polystyrene foam (aka Styrofoam)

Fluorescent tubes and CFLs

A big ol' tank for used oil

Bicycles get recycled by Mr. Michael Recycles Bicycles

Saturday, July 17, 2010

What goes around comes around

I think I may have mentioned that I give away hundreds of used but still useable padded envelopes via Craigslist. The envelopes come to the Star Tribune by the dozens every week, holding books, so instead of getting thrown away they get reused.

One woman who I give them to, Kristin, is always very grateful, and last week I found out she's a potter (here's her site) and yesterday when she picked up envelopes she gave me this awesome little spice jar! How cool is that?!