Monday, May 30, 2011

Checking out the new Fulton Farmers Market

Yay, I'm so glad the Fulton Farmers Market is up and running! It's awesome to have a farmers market right in our neighborhood!! It's every Saturday from 8:30 until 1 at 49th and Chowen in the Lake Harriet United Methodist Church parking lot.

Our friend Kris owns Gai Gai Thai, a brand new mobile food business.

The lovely and talented Courtnay, cooking up some delicious chicken! Gai Gai Thai uses chicken from Kadejan, beef from Thousand Hills Cattle Company and tortillas from La Perla.

And of course I had to check out the waste situation at the market ...

And by "check out," I mean dive right in. Here's that same barrel with the organics pulled out.

This one was full, too, and is nearly empty without the organics.

They need recycling bins for cans and bottles, too.

Bashin' some trash.
Two 33-gallon bags of organics out of the trash. There was more organics to pull out, but I'd only brought two compostable bags. I talked to several farmers market board members, all of whom were enthusiastically supportive of starting organics collection at the market. So hopefully in the not too distant future I'll be reporting on this blog that it's started!

Cute family!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Spreading the love

In the last post, I wrote about my workhorse of a car, always hauling things here and there. Well, in recent days I finally reciprocated some love: replaced a burned-out headlight bulb and also got a new set of tires (a pothole punctured the sidewall of one of my tires). The latter errand turned out to be a very fruitful one.

I went to the Discount Tire store in Bloomington. The guys were very helpful and super nice. Tire Technician Adam taught me all about corrosion on my rim (which he buffed out) and how a tire gets inflated and balanced.

My rim after Adam buffed out the corrosion.

Corrosion build-up on my tire.

New tire without build-up.

Adam mounting my rim onto my new tire.

This machine simulates road conditions and tells the technician how to balance the tire.

And Salesman Adam and I talked about recycling and composting after I saw their trash bin full of office paper. He asked about getting curbside composting at his Minneapolis home because he had lived in Seattle, where curbside organics collection is widespread. Then I said I'd bring some paper-recycling bins, which I put in place myself because the store was very busy at the end of the day.



I also went to the Cub Foods next door, which had just put recycling bins in every single check-out aisle two days previous. Front-end supervisor and recycling enthusiast Kelsey was very excited about the new bins and the addition of bottle & can recycling bins to the employee breakroom and in the offices. She said the new store manager was very supportive of recycling efforts (support from the top is crucial), thus the rollout of all the new bins. We talked about how some signage would help customers figure out where they should put their discards (right now the bins aren't marked).

They're in every single check-out aisle! Excellent! The recycling program is implemented on a store-by-store basis, Kelsey said, depending on whether a particular store's manager makes it a priority and makes it happen.

And I was pleased to see they now offer a compostable container (on the left) for deli foods.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

My wheels, my workhorse

Dear Diary, it was another typical week for me:

Sunday 10:30 a.m. She packed me to the hilt with Styrofoam.

5 p.m. Styrofoam unloaded. Good because the squeaking sounds were beginning to get to me.
5:30 p.m. I get loaded with plastic film and bags from the Linden Hills Festival, then 3 bags of mixed plastic containers from Leslie were added.
6:30 p.m. Plastic film, bags, containers unloaded.
7 p.m. I get loaded with organics. They're stinky!
7:15 p.m. Organics unloaded.
8:30 p.m. I then get loaded with garage sale items (those lamps will never sell), shovels and buckets for compost and one flat of plants for Carolyn.
Monday 11:30 a.m. shovels, buckets used and then reloaded.
6 p.m. Garage sale items unloaded

6:05 p.m. I get loaded with organics, plastic containers and plastic bags from the vet clinic.
8:30 p.m. Plastic containers, bags unloaded, then more organics get added.
Tuesday 8 a.m. organics unloaded. I can breathe freely again!
Wednesday 9 p.m. Plates, mugs, silverware loaded to be used at GreenCorps training
Thursday 8:30 a.m. Plates, etc. unloaded.
4 p.m. Plates, etc. reloaded, this time dirty.

8 p.m. 3 bags of #5 plastic containers, 3 bags of plastic bottle caps for Aveda, 3 bags of milk cartons/juice boxes for recycling by Eureka Recycling, 3 bags of corks (above) loaded.

Friday 12:45 p.m. Bottle caps and milk cartons unloaded. In their place I've got blocks of Styrofoam, a cat litter box and a big bag of organics.
3:15 p.m. #5 plastic and corks unloaded at Whole Foods. It's raining and she left my trunk open.

Saturday 10 p.m. Now she's moving stuff around and folding my seats down. Ah, she's loading up a bicycle.
Sunday 3 p.m. My trunk is filled with organics. They smell ripe! But oh do I feel useful!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Happiness is a half-empty trash bag

The zero-waste efforts at the Linden Hills Festival just keep getting better and better. This is my third year of helping out with disposal monitoring, and each year the trash decreases. This is what happens when everyone from festival organizers to vendors to visitors are on board with reducing waste.

Covered in cotton candy!

Mmmmmm, mini donuts.

Plenty of helpful signs ...

plus friendly disposal monitors ...

equal a very happy Trashbasher!

10 64-gallon carts filled to the brim with organics, and just a half a bag of trash (on the left). The official weights:
organics: 588.5 pounds
trash: 16.5 pounds
plastic bottles: 7 pounds
cans: 30 pounds

Linden Hills Power & Light paid for this compost to be delivered to the festival to show residents how their food scraps and non-recyclable papers get turned into this lovely, rich compost. And the compost was free for the taking.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Spotlight on Seventh Generation

Seventh Generation is partnering with Preserve Gimme 5 to produce post-consumer packaging for Seventh Generation. They don't say what packaging the post-consumer #5 plastic is being made into, so maybe they're going to make it into laundry-bottle caps, which are already #5 plastic. I'm happy to see Seventh Generation is now a sponsor of the Preserve Gimme 5 program (consumers drop off #5 plastics for free at Whole Foods stores), because it's an awesome program but it can't be a cheap one. Read the news release here.

Also check out 7th Gen's 96% post-consumer resin bottles and their 100% recycled fiber recyclable or compostable bottle. Love the use of post-consumer materials in packaging! Love the concentrated formulas, which use less water and less packaging! BUT there's an inner plastic pouch (see photo below) that holds the laundry detergent that has very limited recycling possibilities, whereas a traditional bottle can be recycled entirely.

And here's info on the greenhouse-gas impact of their materials usage.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Closing the composting loop

One of the main things I've been working on for the past six weeks has been organizing a school compost media event. Seven Hennepin County schools that're participating in organics recycling were part of our one-day event on May 17, which involved the county arranging for compost to be delivered to the schools for their students to use in their school gardens. This was the composting process coming full circle: lunchroom food scraps and non-recyclable paper that students separated in the fall were coming back to those schools in the spring. The news media and county commissioners were invited to attend.

On the big day I went to two schools: Meadowbrook in Golden Valley (Hopkins School District) and Nellie Stone Johnson in north Minneapolis (Minneapolis School District). It was a hot and sunny day, one of the few that we've had this spring, which has been super rainy.

In the morning, I was at Meadowbrook. About 25 students did the planting, and and Channel 12 came out to cover the event.

Composting Champion and Educator Extraordinaire Louise Miller handed out potatoes to plant.

A lot of veggie seedlings went into the ground this morning.

The students learned about the process of composting in class, and now they were getting to see the finished product. About 120 schools in Hennepin County are doing organics recycling!

In the afternoon, I went to Nellie Stone Johnson, which has a gigantic garden.

Sunflower seeds going into the ground.

Tasting radish seedlings!

Prepping a new bed.

It was an extremely successful day, I'm happy to say. County Commissioners Mark Stenglein, Peter McLaughlin and Gail Dorfman all came, and then talked about the event later that day at their board meeting.