Thursday, June 30, 2011

Brooklyn Park Recycling Center now taking your organics!

At last there's a place where you can drop off your organics in Hennepin County if you don't have curbside service! You can be a resident or a small business, and you're allowed to bring 5 bags per day for free! Yes, it's in Brooklyn Park, which is a little far for some of us, but if this effort is successful more sites may open. So start separating your household organics, and bring 'em on over (in compostable plastic bags) to the drop-off center. Here are all the details as well as a list of what's compostable and what's not.

These carts stand ready and waiting for your compostables! Bring them Tuesday through Friday only.

John and I went out to the Brooklyn Park facility to talk to the staff about the new program and answer questions. They were very helpful in flagging potential issues that residents would have.

Put your organics here. You have to live in Hennepin County, so don't waste your time and energy driving from another county.

Look at that concentration. What a perfectionist.

And here are a couple of pictures I took at the composting site yesterday. This is where all the organics from the Brooklyn Park facility go. I wrote about the composting process in detail here.

A big, beautiful pile of rich compost.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Anti anti-packaging

I smiled the whole way through this ad from France by a company called Elipso Packaging. And here's part 2.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

What do campers throw away?

Now that I've been working in the waste reduction and recycling sector for a while, I know that a waste sort is more officially called a waste characterization study or a waste composition study -- because you're doing the sort to find out what's in the waste stream.

Rose (check her out in the video) is doing her GreenCorps stint with the Three Rivers Park District. She's done 8 or 9 waste studies in 9 months! She was looking for volunteers, so I went out to Baker Park Reserve in Maple Plain to help.

Here was the staging ground:

What's in campers' trash, and how well do they recycle at a campground? This study aimed to find out.

A sorting station consists of a long table covered with a tarp or large piece of wood, and the bins you're sorting into (the green ones on the ground) are arrayed around the table. Three to four sorters work best, and you get into a groove.

This group found something that was double-bagged, and it was heavy and uniformly squishy. Note the apprehension on their faces as they investigate .....

We were all in suspense, fearing the worst (grossest). "What IS it?!"

Beef stew.

Steve was super-ultra dedicated and climbed into this dumpster. The stench was quite powerful because of all the rain we've been getting.

See how he's delicately balancing himself on these boards? He was scooping garbage out of the water, which was at least a couple of inches deep. Like I said: super-ultra dedicated.

This cute young fox visited us. He wasn't afraid of us at all (bad idea, little fox!).

Every waste sort needs a mascot. This was our table's.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Plant pot recycling

At Mother Earth Gardens, they spell out how we should prep our plastic plant pots so they can be recycled. Here's a list of other garden centers where you can recycle your pots.

From their website:
Plastic Pot Recycling is Back!
The name of this game is cooperation. We'll take single growers pots, 4- and 6-pack cells, and trays sorted by size and free of debris. Please make sure the pots do not contain any wires, rocks, garbage, other plastics, or excessive dirt because this stuff wrecks the process downstream. We cannot take compostable pots or consumer plastic pots purchased empty. Feel free to ask us if your pots fit the bill, we need to work together to keep this program going!

It's a gorgeous garden center and its loveliness makes you want to buy it all!

Cool homemade wooden dogs for your yard, made by my neighbor.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

3 Rs: Reuse, reuse, reuse!

What's better than recycling? Reduction. What else is better than recycling? Reuse!

Here are three recent instances of reuse in my life, which netted me 2 wonderful solutions and 1 awesome new item.

1. At the Coon Rapids Recycling Center, they have a TerraCycle recycling station for chip bags, juice pouches and cookie, granola bar and candy wrappers, but people are always putting in things like crouton bags, cat food bags and other foily packaging that TerraCycle doesn't accept. So we wanted to put up a sign, but there wasn't a good way to hang it or post it. I dug around in the scrap-metal dumpster and found these two white aluminum pieces, screwed them together, then attached them to the metal cart. I'm not very handy, so using the power screwdriver to do this little project was an accomplishment! And the set-up does the trick for this situation.

2. Our plastic soap pump, left, broke after many years of use, so I looked for a replacement, which was only a couple of bucks, but would've required me to make a special trip to Michaels or Jo-Ann Fabrics. So, since I'm lazy, I just waited for something to come along. And lo and behold, I soon came across this plastic pump from a bottle of hand sanitizer, which works well as a replacement.

3. And lastly, I visited ARC's Value Village because I had a coupon, and got this gorgeous orange Pyrex casserole. Isn't it sunny and cheerful?!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Opting out of MORE phone books

I posted last July about getting off the delivery list for Yellow Pages. Then today 4 Dex books showed up at my house, so I went here to opt out of those, too. Are you frustrated with all those phone books getting dropped off at your front door? Opt out of them!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Beer bottle caps are recyclable

I've heard the question of whether metal bottle caps are recyclable a lot, and I finally have a definitive answer. Metal bottle caps and lids such as those on beer and jars of pickles are recyclable, but their small size is a problem -- at the materials recovery facility (MRF) they tend to fall through the screens and sorting machines and end up as trash. So there's one thing you have to do to get them recycled: put your metal caps into a steel can and then smoosh the top so the metal caps/lids don't fall out. Then the can and its contents will get recycled. Voila!