Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tyvek envelope recycling

Ever since I learned that DuPont recycles its Tyvek envelopes, I've been saving them. After thinking for several years, "I should mail these in already," I finally packed them up. There're probably 200 or so envelopes in this package, and they're quite heavy. Let's see how much postage is.

This reminds me that I just discovered 3M no longer recycles its polyester transparencies. I called, and was told the company that did the recycling went out of business. Now I'll have to throw away the box of transparencies at work. Not good.

Update: I forgot to mention that I mailed all the Tyvek envelopes in a Tyvek envelope turned inside out. Efficient packaging! The weight was 7 lbs., 8 ounces, and postage was $12.17.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Eatin' good in the neighborhood

One word to describe Wise Acre Eatery, the new restaurant just down the street that produces all its own produce and meat: YUM.

Here're some write-ups: City Pages, Star Tribune, Heavy Table.

Mr. Trashbasher and I kept smiling all throughout our meal, saying "mmmm!"

We had the Shades of Summer salad, the CSA Hash and the most tender blueberry/lemon scone with just the right amount of sweetness.

From their website:

Their patio disposal station.

Compostable-plastic utensils and cups.

I love their light fixtures, which hang at different heights.

This is behind the bar. Notice that there's not even a trash container, just compost and recycling.

Their dumpsters are hidden behind these walls of lovely plants.

Gorgeous landscaping all around the restaurant and parking lot.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Recycling at multi-family buildings

Recycling at multi-family buildings (apartments, townhomes, condos) is traditionally a tough nut to crack. You have a population that's transient, sometimes low-income, and often there are language barriers. Louisiana Court Apartments, owned by PPL, in St. Louis Park had tried twice to offer recycling to its residents, but both times the program failed. My co-worker Carolyn was contacted a few months back by an AmeriCorps member working with Louisiana Court because a small group of residents really wanted to re-start recycling at the complex (11 buildings). So the pieces needed for success started coming together: a staff person on the ground who could oversee the program plus a group of enthusiastic residents -- a very important piece. The City of St. Louis Park recycling coordinator was also involved, as were Carolyn and I from the county. Louisiana Court's hauler is Aspen, and at the initial meeting with all of us there, their representative said the program would never work at Louisiana Court. We set out to prove him wrong.

After more meetings, e-mails, and some great-looking new educational materials -- cart stickers, door hangers and posters -- developed by Carolyn and our Environmental Education & Outreach unit, LCA held its kick-off recycling event in the courtyard.

There were free tacos and drinks, recycling demonstrations, recycling pledges, information on energy efficiency and music -- a nice festive atmosphere to get people excited about the new recycling program.

Master Recycler/Composter Lisa went through a recycling sorting activity with a resident.

The complex even has garden plots and rain barrels!

New educational stickers

The following week, the AmeriCorps member and a Master Recycler/Composter went door-to-door answering questions and letting people know about the new program. With so many key pieces in place, I think there's a good chance of success.

Carolyn and I did a spot check, and the contents of the recycling carts looked great -- very little trash. In fact most of the carts were 2/3 to 3/4 full, so Aspen needs to deliver more carts before the recycling start overflowing.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The organics bunker

After your food scraps and non-recyclable paper leave your house, they come here to the Hennepin County Recycling Center and Transfer Station in Brooklyn Park (aka Brooklyn Park Transfer Station) and get dumped in this bunker that's separate from the trash pit (see next pic). All the organics from Minneapolis come here, get tipped to check that the load's not too contaminated with non-organics, and then are loaded onto a larger semi (20 tons at a time) to be driven to SET's composting facility in Empire Township. When Ch. 12 did the interview on the new organics drop-off program, they also shot footage of this bunker, which is why I finally got to see it, so here it is for you to see, too.

Here's the gigantic trash pit. On the right side of the photo is where garbage trucks back up to the pit, and the trash comes tumbling out.

See the catwalk on the left of the photo? We walked over the pit from the residential drop-off side of the facility to this area, called the tip floor.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Egg-cellent reuse

This was probably about 700 egg cartons, collected at the Coon Rapids Recycling Center for reuse by Sunshine Harvest Farm. Since I go to both Coon Rapids and the Kingfield Farmers Market, where Sunshine Harvest Farm has a booth, I serve as the Deliverer of the Egg Cartons. Works out well for everyone!

You could try doing the same thing at a farmers market you frequent -- ask whether a farm that sells eggs would like to reuse egg cartons, then collect them from your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers. Great way to reuse, and reduce waste, not to mention save money because I'm told those cartons aren't that cheap. Sunshine Harvest Farm has saved hundreds of dollars by reusing the cartons.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Lights, camera, "go ahead"

My supervisor John, who is Hennepin County's organics recycling specialist, wanted to make a how-to video to address all those questions from residents on what can and can't be composted from what you generate at home. So he put Andre and I on the task. I researched other videos, wrote an outline and gathered many props, and Public Affairs turned the outline into a script and handled the actual making of the video. Here's a behind-the-scenes look at Hennepin County's newest video, shot at our house.

Asian invasion!

Jim, in the blue cap, was the cameraman, and when he was ready for us to start speaking or moving, he'd say "go ahead."

I didn't realize how much lighting goes into making a video.

We tripped the electrical circuit three times.

The crew checked out the footage on this small screen.

We shot in the front yard, back yard, kitchen, bathroom, living room, dining room, bedroom, entryway and driveway.

Clowning around.

(This shoot took place in mid-June, but John wouldn't let me post these pictures until the video was complete.)
But this wasn't the end of shooting. We also shot footage at the Wedge Co-op and SET's composting site in Empire Township, shot all the props in a basement storage room at the Government Center, and we recorded voiceovers at the Government Center.

The next week, we were at the Wedge, at 7 a.m. The store is a beehive of activity, as Jim put it, at that time of day, with people stocking the shelves and getting the store ready for shoppers.

On the left is Steve from Public Affairs. He turned the outline into a script and directed the video.

I'm a regular customer at the Wedge, and it was fun to be there before regular business hours.

And then later that day ... this is a storage room at the Government Center that was transformed into a studio for us to shoot the props.

That brown object on the left is a very, very ripe banana.

I was in charge of arranging all the props and making sure we shot all the props on the list. As you'll see in the video, there were a lot of props.

Arranging them just so.

We got a preview about halfway through the editing process. Deb (not pictured) did a fantastic job of putting the video together and editing it.

And then the week after that we went to the composting site, which you probably recognize from my earlier posts. I coordinated with the transfer station so we could film a load of organics being delivered.

Today Steve was the cameraman.

And the last step for Andre and I was recording the voiceovers.

Annnnnddd, here's the finished video! Scroll down about a third of the way down the page. You'll need Microsoft Silverlight to play it. Hope you find it useful! Making this video was a wonderful experience! I learned so much, and it was a lot of fun!