Thursday, September 30, 2010

2 beautiful green buildings

I was at the Wilder Center in St. Paul and Silverwood Park in St. Anthony for Minnesota GreenCorps training. Both are beautiful buildings, the Silverwood in particular, and they're packed with energy-saving, waste-reducing green features. Unfortunately I neglected to take pictures of the outsides of the buildings.

You can see a picture of Silverwood's soaring, gorgeous-wood Great Hall here. It's been extremely popular as a wedding reception rental space. Supervisor Tom Moffatt was very enthusiastic about the building, showing us all its energy-saving, waste-reducing, environmentally friendly features, and saying how much he loved working there. Here we're in the basement, checking out the geothermal system.

Permeable pavers in Silverwood's parking lot. There are also ditches between the rows of parking to catch rainwater runoff.

Lovely oak boulders

The building's geothermal system, a jewel in its crown. Tom told us stories about working out the system's kinks, for instance during a wedding reception on a hot summer day someone propped a door open, and the system, sensing the heat and thinking the building was getting too hot, turned on the cold air full blast, freezing the wedding guests.

The Silverwood coffee shop composts, uses all compostable serviceware, and serves fair-trade coffee and local foods.

The gorgeous wood throughout came from 3 oak trees that were felled to make way for the park's new building, which opened in Sept. 2009. Wood From The Hood turned the trees into lumber, and now the oaks are back home.

All wedding events held in the Great Hall are required to separate their organics for composting. Some couples choose Silverwood specifically because of its green features.

The Wilder Center is LEED Gold-certified. The building is flooded with natural light. Read more about the building's features here.

More than 85 percent of construction waste was diverted from landfills. The building features lots of recycled products that were manufactured and harvested locally.

Native plants, aerators on all faucets, and low-flush and dual-flush toilets.

"Wilder Center has been designed to use approximately 50% less energy than a building built to standard regulations by utilizing highly efficient boilers, under-floor displacement ventilation, and daylight harvesting."

FLOR tiles in the dining area.

I loved this: the tiny green bucket is for trash while the large white bin is for recyclables. Every desk is set up this way.

Each cubicle has its own air vent, so employees can control their air flow.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Kitchen trash, week 10

Holy trash-generation, Batman, it was a bad week! We continue to be trashy. I have to admit it's getting a little hard to keep track of what trash actually was generated what week because the bucket's so full now.

Anyway, here's the tally for Sunday, Sept. 26:

5 blister packs
21 (!) lactose-pill wrappers
1 zipper
plastic lining from a frozen-juice concentrate tube
3 pieces of plastic wrap from the necks of bottles
plastic peel-off top
foam peel-off top from a bottle of supplements
foil peel-off top
3 pieces of sticky tape
mustard packet (from GreenCorps training)
ramen flavor packet
3 foil-type vitamin packets
plastic label from a bunch of cilantro
plastic wrap from a cookie (GreenCorps)
plastic lining from a package of dog treats

OK, I squished it down, and the bucket is half-full when it's compressed. We'll try one maybe two more weeks before crying uncle! (wonder how many weeks we could go if our bucket had a lid!)

Click here for week 1
here for week 2
here for week 3
here for week 4
here for week 5
here for week 6
here for week 7
here for week 8
here for week 9

Saturday, September 25, 2010

There's still time to recycle your plastic garden pots

But only till Oct. 1! I have a whole heap of them to drop off. Here's a list of participating garden centers. This program is sponsored by the Minnesota Nursery & Landscape Association and Choice Plastics.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Trashbasher becomes a Minnesota GreenCorps member

After 3 days of training, this year's crop of 31 Minnesota GreenCorps members was sent out into the state to prevent waste, increase recycling, conserve energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, manage stormwater, help urban trees and encourage local foods. I begin my 11-month service with Hennepin County on Monday. Yay!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Recycling at Whole Foods

Most people go to Whole Foods to shop. I on the other hand ...

Friends and neighbors, this whole bag plus the two cat-litter containers is YOUR #5 plastics! Great job! Can you tell how tall this bag is?! It's really big!

The bin at Whole Foods for #5 plastics to be recycled by Preserve

Cork recycling at Whole Foods

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Kitchen trash, week 9

The bucket is getting quite full. I may have to empty it next week. We continue to be trashier than usual, a trend that started last week.

Tally for Sunday, Sept 19:

plastic wrap from cheese
4 blister packs
1 zipper
1 piece gauze, 1 piece vet wrap (from our dog's eye surgery this week)
1 Swiffer cloth (polyester, so not compostable)
1 piece red plastic tape from a ground-beef package
1 piece brown thread
1 piece foam (both from the garbage pizza)
6 lactose pill wrappers
1 piece tape from Rustica Bakery (brought by our friend)
seasoning packet, oil packet from ramen noodles
1 piece plastic from the neck of a bottle
1 tamper-resistant seal
5 random bits of plastic
1 piece sticky tape

Click here for week 1
here for week 2
here for week 3
here for week 4
here for week 5
here for week 6
here for week 7
here for week 8

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sad news about plastics recycling

A note I sent out earlier this week:

To all my recycling enthusiasts,

As you've probably guessed from the subject line, this is not good news, but here it is: Because of the poor economy, there is no market for many post-consumer plastics that up to now we've been recycling. (This does NOT include the #1 and #2 bottles with a neck that everyone recycles curbside) Coon Rapids is changing its policy, and Eastside Food Co-op is sure to soon follow. From now on the only plastics that will be accepted for recycling are #1 cups and lids, #2s (all shapes and sizes) and #5s (all shapes and sizes). Everything else must be thrown away, including bakery containers, clamshells (the type of package that strawberries come in -- the package opens up like a clamshell), microwave-food trays, most lids ... it's very sad.

What can we do? Write to the companies that make the products you buy and ask them to switch to a compostable or recyclable package. Tell them we can't recycle the plastic packaging their product comes in, and ask them to come up with an alternative. They need to hear from us!

Thanks to all of you who've been so diligent about bringing me things to be recycled. If markets improve and more types of plastic become recyclable again, I'll definitely let you know.

So, to recap, only
#1 cups and lids
#2s, all shapes and sizes
#5s, all shapes and sizes
are recyclable.

I'll continue taking the #5s to Whole Foods, and the #1s and #2s to Coon Rapids.

Friday, September 17, 2010


I'm making these and putting them up all around Southwest High School. Probably the kids'll see them but it won't change their habits, but maybe I'll reach at least a few students ...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Preview of the new Linden Hills Co-op

We went to a thank-you party at the new co-op Sunday, so I took a bunch of pics for you to get a sneak peek at the new store opening at the end of this month. The whole event was great, food was yummy, but the highlight was when folks who had been mingling with all of us starting singing! They were from the Minnesota Opera, and it was such a fun setting to hear opera being sung!

Produce section. The pull-down covers save energy by keeping the cool air in at night.

"Nut grinders for new store"

Classroom for demos

Front entryway

Deli (I think)

They put on a lavish spread for us.

Salad bar

The Minnesota Opera singers!

An appreciative audience

Natural Home section (I think)

There'll be composting front-of-the-house as well as back-of-the-house.


Huge walk-in freezer

The building's roof was painted white so it would absorb less heat. The whole building was thoroughly insulated. The receiving dock is a feature the old store lacked.

Office space

Solar tubes provide so much natural light, without using any electricity, that they'll light up the breakroom during the day.

This is one of my favorite parts. The blue unit collects heat given off by the hot-water heater! Genius!

Bulk foods section