Thursday, December 15, 2011

One-sort recycling pilot rollin' right along

Three months into the one-sort recycling pilot programs in the East Calhoun and Willard Hay neighborhoods, and residents are loving the programs and setting out lots of material.

Not uncommon to see the carts filled to the brim.

Can't recycle pizza boxes, though you can compost them, which is what this resident could be doing since East Calhoun has curbside composting service through the city.

For the first time, I got to go with the truck to dump its load of recyclables at Allied Waste's MRF in north Minneapolis.

Single-sort recyclables go here. Two-sort and multi-sort materials go elsewhere at the facility.

Here's the pit where it all gets dumped. Then a back hoe moves stuff to the sorting areas.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Keiko's zero-waste Christmas party

Meet Green Goddess Keiko. She's every bit as waste-reduction conscious as I am (she's responsible for getting the Linden Hills Festival to go zero-waste), and even more environmentally conscious. We went to her holiday party this year, and it was a nice change of pace to be attending an event without having to worry about the waste! No trash-digging for me tonight.

Her waste station.

Love that she taped examples next to the organics recycling sign!

Bins for plastic and glass

Next to the punch bowl: "Did you know ... these cups are compostable?? (they're made from corn)"

Moonshine made by her husband, Chance! Thanks for a wonderful zero-waste party, you two!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Home recycling consultation

Fellow Fulton resident Kathy was kind enough to bid on a home recycling consultation from me at the Fulton Festival's silent auction, so I went over to check out her set-up. Here's what she wrote me ahead of my visit: Currently, all we're recycling formally is cans, glass, plastic, newspaper and batteries. I'd definitely like to start recycling all mail/paper and as much food waste as possible in the back yard.

Her adorable elderly pup slept through most of the consultation.

Her collection set-up for metal, plastic and glass. We discussed using small bins rather than using a lot of paper bags, which yes, are recyclable and renewable, but if you can use as few of them as possible, that's fewer resources consumed.

Here's where boxes and mail get tossed before getting separated. I've heard anecdotally that a lot of people toss everything into one pile and then separate it the night before recycling day -- another reason for moving to single-sort or dual-sort recycling for the whole city. The convenience for residents would be much welcomed!

The newspaper collection area.

We sorted through her kitchen trash, pulling out all the recyclable paper, plastic bags and food waste. This was all that was left.

And here's where she'll put a compost pile in her back yard. Good southern exposure. And because it's right on the alley, her neighbors will see her composting, and maybe that'll spur them to consider doing it, too.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Free-range Christmas tree

We got our tree this year, as we do most years, at Mother Earth Gardens. We were delighted to find "organic free-range" trees this year. Ours was $20 for a cute 5-foot-tall tree with a skinny base.

The tag reads: Celebrate Christmas with an elegant, fragrant north woods Balsam fir, and you will be helping to protect our old-growth white pine forests from wildfire. Polar explorer Will Steger and author Jeff Forester have teamed up to offer these unique, pesticide-free trees. Northern Minnesota conifer forests are clogged with an understory of balsam fir that provide easy fuel for wildfires. By removing the smaller trees, we not only reduce fuel load but create openings for red and white pine seedlings. Proceeds from the sale of this tree will go toward replanting our native red and white pine forest.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Multi-sort recycling in Minneapolis

Those of us who live in Minneapolis have probably seen the compartmentalized recycling truck on our street, but what does picking up all that separated material involve? To do some research for a comparison of two-sort and single-sort recycling, I did a ridealong, and I have one word for you: strenuous.

I went with Pat, who also does the collecting for the two-sort recycling pilot program in the Seward neighborhood.

Don't set your recyclables out in plastic bags -- they get all tangled up in the machines at the recycling facility.

Why is multi-sort collection strenuous? Glass. Heavy glass.

Brown, green and clear glass bottles get separated by hand by the recycling collector.

The other strenuous part: paper. Also heavy. See how Pat is throwing the paper way over his head? He does that more than 100 times a day. And the panels on the sides of the truck raise as the paper compartment gets fuller and fuller, so the opening for throwing paper in becomes smaller and smaller.

Pat stomping on the paper to compress it in the compartment.

Lots of bending and lifting.

The plastics compartment is the last one in the trailer.

Two steering wheels!