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  • 2022-04-16 12:00 PM | Reuse Minnesota (Administrator)

    Member spotlight: r.Cup
    Q&A with Michael Martin, r.Cup Founder and CEO

    Click here for video of the interview.


    RM | How did you get started in sustainability?

    For the very first Earth Day in 1970 in Wisconsin, I went out with my 4th grade class and cleaned up the banks of the Fox River. It was a very big thing there because Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin created Earth Day. Years later, after watching environmental disasters like Bhopal and the Exxon Valdez oil spill, I decided businesses needed to factor sustainability into operations. And so in 1990, I started Effect Partners, to combine culture, business and sustainability solutions. Recalling that first Earth Day experience, the first thing I did was to produce the big 1990 Earth Day Concert and rally on the Great Mall in Washington, DC.

    RM | What sparked your interest and commitment to reuse?

    Over the last 30 years I have introduced many of the sustainability concepts in live events. I’ve even been called the “Guru of Live Event Greening” (thanks, Billboard Magazine!)

    In the process of designing and developing sustainability strategies for everyone from Jack Johnson to Dave Matthews Band to U2 to Live Nation to AEG, it was clear that the most visible environmental impact at live events is the single-use cup waste that’s generated. 

    Back in 2011, on U2’s 360 Tour, we saw a reusable cup system in place on the Zurich date. I thought this was brilliant and decided to bring it to North America. By working with the world’s leading artists and cultural influencers, I felt we could introduce the concept of reuse at scale to create systemic change. In the process, I realized what was really needed was the platform for the reuse economy.

    And so, that’s what we set out to do with r.Cup. We’ve built the platform to maximize positive environmental impact, positive community impact, operational efficiencies and sanitization capabilities. We are set up to eliminate the billions of single-use waste items that contribute to our world’s climate crisis. Through the simple act of reuse, we can help combat climate change. 

    RM | What does Earth Day mean to you? What are your most memorable and meaningful Earth Day moments?

    It means a lot to me. I produced the nationally broadcast stadium Earth Day concerts from 1990-1995, helped establish the Earth Day International Organization, and was on its board for 20 years. Earth Day is now the world's largest secular event. I view Earth Day as the funnel to introduce people to the environmental movement. Because of its strong focus on schools and youth, it allows us to plant the “sustainability awareness” seed early.

    My most meaningful Earth Day moments were organizing campaigns that engaged millions of people in taking action around Earth Day. One of my favorite moments was when we were able to reunite Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr for the first time since the Beatles broke up for an Earth Day concert. This created millions of impressions and quantified actions globally around Earth Day.

    RM | Why focus on Minneapolis/Minnesota?

    I moved here in 1990 for one year, and I’m still here because it is an amazing place to live. It’s very supportive of innovation, sustainability, the arts, and entrepreneurship.

    And so, I’ve found that Minneapolis is the perfect location to launch a concept like reuse and r.Cup and r.Ware. As a matter of fact, our first r.Cup event was U2 at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sept. 8, 2017.

    Our compost facilities are getting overrun with bioplastics. Our landfills are filling up. Waste going to the incinerator releases toxins into the community. If we can take millions of single-use items out of the waste stream, the health of our residents and the environment all benefit.

    RN | What’s your vision for Minnesota?

    I would like to see Minnesota be the state that leads the country in reuse with less of a reliance on compostable plastic and other single-use items. Reuse Minnesota has and will play an absolutely critical role in the state’s growth of reuse. I believe, working together, Minnesota will once again lead and inspire other states to do the right thing.


    r.Cup
    rcup.com
    @rcupworld

  • 2022-04-15 11:40 AM | Reuse Minnesota (Administrator)

    Member spotlight: Rethos: Places Reimagined
    Q&A with Kelly Fischer,  Outreach and Education Coordinator at Rethos: Places Reimagined

    Click here for a video of the interview.

    RM | Briefly describe what Rethos specializes in.

    Rethos is a regional nonprofit, with the mission to lead and inspire people to connect to places promoting community vitality. On the ground level, what we do is advocate for state and federal policies that make building reuse easier. We work with rural communities to revitalize their historic downtown district, and we teach people how to take care of old buildings.

    RM | What is one project that Rethos coordinated, that truly brought together a community?

    One of my favorite projects that Rethos coordinated recently was the Otter Tail County story mapping project, which was done in partnership with Otter Tail County Historical Society and the Springboard for the Arts. Back in 2020, residents were asked to submit different stories from their community and they came in a variety of forms from oral history to photos, to trivia contests, to documentaries. Ultimately 15 projects were chosen to be put on an online map where you can access all of those stories in whatever form that they come in. In addition to that, each story had eligibility for funding. Over $30,000 was invested in Otter Tail County itself. You can find the story mapping project on our website at rethos.org and check out all of these excellent stories.

    RM | Tell us more about the Minnesota Main Streets program.

    Rethos is the coordinating organization for Minnesota Main Street, which is the state chapter of the National Main Street Program. It's an asset based economic development program that uses historic preservation as a core strategy to revitalize downtowns. It's about revitalizing districts for the people who are living and working in them now. A thriving downtown has a powerful impact in the community, and that's why Rethos is proud to oversee the Minnesota Main Street program. We help towns and small cities maximize both their people and build assets for economic vitality.

    RM | How is reuse important in your line of work?

    At our core, Rethos is very passionate about reusing and restoring old buildings. When you reuse an old building, you keep that demolition waste out of the landfill, but you also preserve and continue the stories and culture of a given place. When a building does have to be demolished, we can salvage the building materials from it, like old growth lumber and hardware and whatever we can get and use it in a new build or put it in an existing building that needs some replacements. Reuse is very important in our field.

    RM | How does being a Reuse Minnesota member align with your business mission?

    Reuse Minnesota works with and connects us with many of the very valuable organizations that are doing work in the areas of deconstruction, material, salvage and general reuse. And so we see them as a super valuable asset in actually completing the work that we have set out to do at Rethos.

    RM | Where is Rethos located?

    Rethos is in the process of transitioning its St. Paul office to a different space, but we do have a Winona office and we do offer lots of classes, in the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota area. In the Twin Cities, we offer classes at the Minnesota tool libraries, Hayes, window restoration and a variety of homes, uh, with homeowners that have been gracious enough to allow us to host classes there. Uh, we also host classes in central Minnesota in Saint Cloud-Sauk Rapids area and we'll be offering more classes soon in the southeast part of the state. So we hope to see you there!


    Rethos: Places Reimagined
    rethos.org
    @rethosplacesreimagined







  • 2022-03-25 10:16 AM | Reuse Minnesota (Administrator)

    Spring cleaning with a reuse mindset
    Incorporating eco-friendly practices and actions into our seasonal transition

    The promise of warmer weather and longer days means spring is here! And with that, a good dose of spring cleaning is in order. We have some great tips to help motivate you, and reuse solutions you can use. 

    Supplies
    Before buying cleaning supplies, do an inventory of what you already have. As you run out of your cleaning products, consider switching to more eco-friendly versions. Many containers can be washed out and reused with your own cleaning recipes. Hennepin County Environment and Energy and Dakota County both have effective green cleaning recipes that are not only less-toxic, but they are often less expensive than store brands. They also often require ingredients you already have around the house, such as white vinegar and dish soap. If you are cleaning around pets and little ones, or have your kids help with cleaning, it’s much safer to equip them with these types of non-toxic cleaners than some of the more harsh products.

    Hennepin County Environment and Energy green cleaning recipes
    Dakota County healthy household cleaning guide

    Tip: Instead of using disposable paper towels or wipes, washable rags (including old bed linens and clothing items) and towels can do the trick. They are more durable and can be used again and again! Keep your cleaning supplies to a minimum. By simplifying your routine, you’ll be saving space, time, and money!

    Where to begin
    Make a plan to tackle one room at a time, and you won’t find yourself overwhelmed. Perhaps your garage is a priority, because you’re ready to winterize your snowblower (wishful thinking?) and dig out your bikes and sports equipment. Or maybe your closet is your focus, because you want to rotate your wardrobe and usher in the spring with seasonally appropriate looks and pieces. Break up your tasks to make getting started less daunting! 

    Tip: Make major cleaning a year round activity. It’s an easier practice to maintain if you incorporate regular deep cleaning into your routine than to focus on it only once a year. 

    Deciding what to keep and reuse, repair, or donate/give away
    As you go through each area in your home, cleaning and sneezing, it's helpful to have a sorting process for the items you encounter. Designate a box or area in your home where you can place:

    1. Items to keep and put-away immediately
    2. Items to keep, but need repairing/maintenance
    3. Items to donate/swap as is|
    4. Items to donate/swap, but need repairing

    This process makes it easier to stay focused and get items where they need to be.  

    Tip: You can continue this type of sorting process throughout the year (similar to maintaining deep cleaning in your routine instead of just once a year). That way it's easier to see when you should add a repair or donation stop to errands.

    Repair your items
    As you find items that no longer work or are slightly damaged, the most convenient option may appear to be throwing it away. However, something as small as sewing on a new button or taking an appliance apart to clean it helps maintain our belongings, keeping them in working condition, and ensure we can keep using them longer. When we don’t have all the tools and skills to repair things ourselves, there are other people and services that do! Reuse Minnesota has members in the repair industry that can provide the fix or help teach you how to do it yourself. Reach out to your network to see if someone has the expertise to repair your stuff. Local counties also host fix-it clinics throughout the year. These events connect volunteers with individuals who need help fixing or repairing something. 

    Upcoming fix-it clinics

    April 16, 2022: Dakota County Fix-It clinic
    May 7, 2022: Anoka County Fix-It clinic
    May 21, 2022: Dakota County Fix-It clinic
    June 4, 2022: Anoka County Fix-It clinic

    Tip: Offer up your own tools or skills to help someone. Look for video tutorials online to help diagnose or fix your belongings. Find more repair resources in our directory.   

    Creative reuse
    When an item no longer serves its original purpose, it can be tempting to recycle it or even throw it away. What if you could give it a second life by repurposing it? By doing so, it gives the item a new function and even more value.

    Sometimes seeing beyond the ordinary use of an item can be tricky. Fortunately, a quick search on the internet will yield countless ideas on how to upcycle items. For example, your favorite can of soup or deli meat container can be repurposed into part of a garage organization system. TV cabinets that are no longer popular in homes can be reused as a craft closet or even a mini bar. Broken plastic laundry baskets can be tied back together with rope, and serve as a corral for sports equipment in the garage. The possibilities are endless!  

    Tip: Reach out to your network and see if people have ideas on how you can repurpose an item. A quick search on the internet can help get your creative juices flowing, and who knows what you’ll come up with! 

    Host or find a swap event
    Reuse Minnesota recently gave a presentation to government staff on how to host a swap event. You can find that recording here. Swap events can be tailored to fit any type of item. Cities have hosted media swaps, clothing swaps, and gardening tool swaps. You don’t have to be giving away items to attend either - swaps are designed to get stuff into the hands of people that want them - for free! Generally, people give away usable items they no longer want or need, and take things they can use. Reuse Minnesota will be hosting another presentation for the general public on how to plan swap events. Look for the offering on our website soon. Swap events can be a great way to connect communities and neighborhoods, while at the same time encouraging reuse of existing items (instead of purchasing new) and reducing the number of items ending up in the waste stream.

    Upcoming swap events

    May 24, 2022: St. Louis Park Gardening Swap
    July 28, 2022: St. Louis Park Clothing Swap
    August 24, 2022: St. Louis Park Media Swap

    Tip: Start small and organize a swap event with your friends and family. You might start with clothing, craft supplies, or puzzles. Have bigger aspirations? Organize one for your neighborhood or community!

    Donate unwanted items
    Generally, if an item is something you’d give to a friend or family member, it’s a safe bet it can be donated. If it could use some altering to make it fully usable again, put it in a repair pile. You can consider items for reuse if it’s something that can be used again, such as bubble wrap from a package, or coffee and soup cans as tool storage in your garage. You could also view it as something that was intended for single-use, but could be used again before being recycled or put in the trash.      

    Donation centers

    Several Reuse Minnesota members accept donations
    Reuse Minnesota also has a list of resources that will help you find a donation center near you
    Join your neighborhood Buy Nothing group

    Tip: Get your items to the organizations that need them. Check out individual websites to see what they are accepting. This will ensure your donations will be put to good use!

    Change your habits and behaviors
    Getting rid of clutter can be freeing, but let’s not forget why we ended up with so much stuff in the first place. Take stock of everything you find yourself wanting to get rid of and note why it’s no longer desired. Do you own multiples of items? Do you feel pressure to keep up with the latest gadgets and trends, but it doesn’t fit with your personal style? Are the items you’ve purchased breaking too quickly and requiring replacements? Are you being given items you don’t like or want? Taking the time to examine what you don’t want or need will help prevent those items from coming back into your home again. Save yourself time and money, and do a gut check when you’re considering purchasing something new. Do you truly need the item or are you reacting to a trend or boredom? Are there options to rent the item or borrow it from a friend? Can you get a secondhand option for your next purchase? Are you sure the item is durable, high quality, and has options for repairing so you can avoid replacing it as often? Make these simple changes or take these actions today, and your spring cleaning will be easier next year!

  • 2021-12-13 12:00 PM | Reuse Minnesota (Administrator)

    We are excited to welcome Carolyn Wieland to our ReUSE Minnesota team as our new Administrative and Communications Assistant! Carolyn is an alumnus of the Hennepin County Zero Waste Challenge, and has spent the past few years helping to spread the sustainability message through her hyperlocal blog in Eden Prairie. Her background is in program and event management and marketing with roles at the University of Minnesota and Target Corporation. She is also a Hennepin County Master Recycler/Composter. Carolyn has bachelor's degrees in management and marketing from the University of Minnesota. 

    In her free time, Carolyn enjoys any type of physical activity, connecting with friends and family, DIY projects, and serving as a volunteer in many of her kids' activities. Carolyn lives in Eden Prairie with her husband and three sons. She has a crazy sense of smell and has eggs for breakfast every day. 

    Carolyn is ready to jump into this new role and work on spreading the ReUSE Minnesota message! Her role will include social media management, creating content such as blog entries and educational graphics, conference planning, and supporting our members. Please help us welcome Carolyn!

    Funding for this position is provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR).

  • 2021-11-23 12:20 PM | Reuse Minnesota (Administrator)

    As many of you know, this time of year is a big deal for retail, and that includes many small businesses. This Saturday is Small Business Saturday, and we encourage you to check out these ReUSE Minnesota members!

    Shopping locally is a great way to find unique gifts, while supporting your community. Plus, by checking out these ReUSE Minnesota members, you’re also probably going to find a cool gift that is easier on the environment (not to mention your wallet).

    So with big shopping days on the horizon, here’s a list for you. Check them out, make your lists, and try not to over do it.

    • Rethos: Places Reimagined - Give the gift of learning! Rethos offers courses on the use of old buildings and sites - whether it's learning about architecture or how to “green” an old home.
    • Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity ReStore - Gift quality used home furnishings and building supplies, or check out their ideas for DIY’ing a gift!
    • Hennepin Restomods LLC  - Is there someone on your list who enjoys restoring cars? This is the place!
    • Old School by Steeple People thrift store - Thrift some quality used clothing and home goods for your loved ones. They have gift cards too!
    • Repair Lair  - Gift quality used and repaired gear needed for outdoor activities.
    • Tech Fixers LLC - Know someone who had a favorite electronics item break recently? Consider the gift of repair! TechFixers can fix things like smartphones, gaming consoles, or even hoverboards!
    • ReUSE Minnesota - Looking for a great way to connect the reuse champion in your life to other advocates? We have individual memberships!

    Do you know of other great local places (that prioritize reuse) to shop small this Saturday?

  • 2021-08-09 12:00 PM | Reuse Minnesota (Administrator)

    Have you heard the great news? We’re thrilled to announce that we recently welcomed Emily Barker as our new Executive Director! Emily started her new position on August 9, 2021, and the team could not be more excited.

    About Emily

    Emily Barker (she/her) comes to ReUSE Minnesota from the City of St. Louis Park where she focused on multifamily, commercial, and event recycling, as well as reuse and waste prevention. During her five years with the city, she established a series of share and swap events, championed the deconstruction of city-owned properties including the former interpretive building at the nature center, and created a directory of all the reuse businesses in the city. Previously, Emily spent two and a half years at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency where she worked on commercial and state agency recycling and composting, and five years at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy where she focused on rural communities and local foods work.

    Emily has a B.S. in biology from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington. Outside of work, Emily enjoys spending time with her husband and their 6-year-old son, serving as a mentor at Cottageville Park Neighborhood Garden, and traveling to her home state of Montana. She is also a board member and volunteer cashier at Old School thrift shop in Minneapolis.

    Short Q&A with Emily

    Q: What drew you to this Executive Director position with ReUSE Minnesota?

    A: Reuse and waste prevention are what I am most passionate about. While I know that recycling and composting are important aspects of how we manage solid waste, the need to make a significant shift toward prioritizing reuse is paramount. For me, the opportunity to work full-time championing reuse in Minnesota is incredibly exciting. This organization is one I am solidly committed to and I look forward to the opportunity to lead.

    Q: How would you describe your leadership style?

    A: I am an earnest and dedicated leader who is committed to my work. I seek out ways to highlight the skills and passions of others. A colleague and friend recently commented on my strengths with organizing projects and people. Over the years, I have fostered the important skill of delegation and building a strong team, having learned the hard way that a burned-out leader is not something I wish to be. Most people know me as a direct communicator who values honesty and trust. I lead with my heart, but not without a strong commitment to data and understanding of big picture implications of my work. I value relationships and seek to build partnerships whenever possible.

    Q: What opportunities do you see for strengthening and growing ReUSE Minnesota’s network?

    A: I see three different key opportunities.

    1. One of the greatest opportunities for growth I see is building relationships where they may not always be obvious. One of the best examples I have seen for this has been the collaboration between farmers and tech repair businesses in advocating for Right to Repair legislation in Minnesota. Reuse businesses are diverse in their scope, customers, and locations, and highlighting the common goals between them will maximize the benefits of reuse in our state.
    2. Having worked in both municipal and state government, I see many opportunities to strengthen support for ReUSE Minnesota through local, county, and state policy and partnerships. Having had the opportunity to testify to the legislature on behalf of St. Louis Park and the Association of Recycling Managers, I look forward to representing ReUSE Minnesota in that arena as well.
    3. Normalizing reuse within our communities is also an integral part of building the network. Part of the reason I started the swap events for the city was to create fun and inviting spaces for individuals to be involved with reuse alongside their friends and neighbors. While the swaps don’t directly contribute to the economic side of reuse, they help build social support for reuse as a whole by normalizing the behavior of seeking used items before buying new.

    Q: How do you connect to ReUSE Minnesota’s mission?

    A: Reuse has been part of my life for economic, social, and environmental reasons for as long as I can remember. When I got married, I wore my grandmother’s wedding dress, which she had fashioned out of repurposed parachute material in the 1940’s when other textiles were in short supply because of the war. Her sister, my great aunt, also wore the dress. I wore it partly for financial reasons, but mostly because the dress told such an important story of my family history. I cherished being able to connect with a woman who died long before that day. I valued her ingenuity and resourcefulness. And I simply could not justify the environmental impact of purchasing a dress I would wear for a single day. This simple story speaks volumes about why this work is important to me. Reuse is an integral part of my life, and I see it as an integral part of our state, and I look forward to helping lead the effort to increase the visibility of reuse in Minnesota.

    LCCMR Grant

    Hiring Emily is the first step for our strategic plan over the next two years. Our organization was selected to receive funding from the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR). Under Emily’s leadership, we will use this funding to provide outreach and technical assistance to communities and businesses to increase reuse, rental, and repair of consumer goods as an alternative to using new materials.

    Over two years, we plan to expand partnerships, create a funding pool for reuse business incubators, and host educational events including another national conference and professional development sessions across the state. Additional strategies include influencing government policies and practices that decrease use of natural resources by creating robust reuse alternatives for consumers and businesses; testing and implementing social marketing techniques to drive consumer behavior; and measuring the impact of reuse across the state through tested, pre-defined tools to prove the environmental, economic, and social benefits.

    If you’re interested in diving into more of the details of our plan, check out the full proposal on the LCCMR site. Let us know if you’d like to be involved and join a committee supporting these efforts!

  • 2021-06-30 10:52 AM | Reuse Minnesota (Administrator)

    Fourth of July celebrations call to mind backyard sparklers, burgers on paper plates, and hands holding red plastic cups. Fireworks fill the sky after the sun sets. The next day there are garbage bags filled with evidence of the fun - but are there things we can do to reduce that waste?

    For the past ten years, people have been participating in Plastic Free July - a challenge to use no (or less) plastic in the month of July with the goal of reducing plastic use throughout the year. Plastic Free July started in Australia, but has since been practiced all over the globe. According to plasticfreejuly.org, in July 2020, 326 million people from 177 countries participated. Further, people who participate reduce their household waste by 5%, and 8.5 out of 10 people who participate make changes that become a habit.

    If this sounds interesting, you can sign up to take the challenge and check out some tips to get started

    Plastic Free July isn’t the only challenge you can participate in. If you want to do a plastic free July, but would like to sign on with a community closer to home, the Coalition of North American Zoos and Aquariums has a Plastic Free Challenge in July. Hennepin County also does a Zero Waste Challenge, and is accepting applications in August 2021. Other cities and counties may host their own challenges too - check out your local community websites to see how you can participate in your neighborhood.

    But back to the Fourth of July - here are some specific ways to reduce waste at your celebrations:

    • Bring reusable cups/plates/utensils/napkins. Yes, this means keeping track of the items and bringing them home to clean. Instead of a plastic bag for garbage, bring a reusable tote to collect dirty dishes/utensils and a bag for napkins.
    • Avoid plastic packaging on your food by purchasing fresh, local produce and buying from a butcher. Sometimes packaging is a necessary way to preserve food and prevent wasted food (which has a significant environmental impact), but when you’re buying more directly (farm to table!), it can be easier to avoid unnecessary packaging and support the local economy.
    • Instead of bottled/canned beverages, brew your own iced tea and/or set up a water station.
    • Use a reusable cooler instead of a Styrofoam one.
    These ideas aren’t just for the Fourth of July, they can be carried forward for any celebration. What other ways have you been reducing waste and practicing reuse this summer?
  • 2021-06-09 11:10 AM | Reuse Minnesota (Administrator)

    By Jennifer Lenart

    Is anyone else surprised that it's June? Spring flew by quickly in my household and we realized that we didn’t celebrate Earth Day the way we had intended. Not to be discouraged, we researched some ways to take the energy of Earth Day into every day.

    There are lists like EARTHDAY.ORG’s 51 Ways to Restore our Earth, and The National Ocean Service’s (NOS) 10 Simple Choices for a Healthier Planet. You can skim the list for something that strikes your fancy or seems achievable, work your way through the list top to bottom, or even close your eyes and point to select ways to make a difference any day.

    If you’re looking for a reflective practice to really get to the heart of your individual power to make a positive difference, check out Sierra Club’s article on mapping your power to make systemic change. This practice can help move you from “what difference could I really make?” to a greater understanding of your unique ability to make a difference, hopefully helping to empower you to make change. The article outlines 5 main areas to put energy towards systemic change: civic, behavioral, social, financial and professional. Here’s one quick idea for each area.

    • Civic: One activity all three resources suggest is volunteering. For a very “Earth Day” like activity, volunteer for a clean-up event or create your own event. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has a great list of volunteer opportunities. This Minnesota DNR page lists volunteer opportunities throughout Minnesota. 
    • Behavioral: Sierra Club recommends that we “create less demand and less waste. Buy only what you need. Repair, reuse, and buy second-hand. Recycle and compost.” This is the heart of ReUSE Minnesota’s mission. For a great list of resources on repair, re-use, and buying second-hand, look no further than ReUSE Minnesota’s member list.
    • Social: Talk about climate change and how you incorporate reuse into your routines with your co-workers, family, and friends! This helps normalize making earth-friendly decisions.
    • Financial: Vote with your dollar. Sierra Club’s article discusses how it's important not to discount your actions if you aren’t able to do “enough.” If this area isn’t where your strength lies, focusing on one or a few of the others does make a difference! Where you can, support eco-friendly companies and organizations – particularly those that prioritize reuse, rental, and repair.
    • Professional: Start the conversation - sustainability teams, monthly green challenges, encouraging low-carbon commutes, opting for better office products and the timeless ‘go paperless’ are all great ideas to bring up at work. As you continue to adapt to new norms in your work place (whether that’s returning to an office space, remaining in a telework capacity, etc.), make sure to be thoughtful about not simply recycling or disposing of surplus office items in those transitions. Reuse as much as possible within your team, and if there truly isn’t a need, find a location where you can donate those items for others to use.
    Do you have ideas for celebrating Earth Day everyday? Share below!
  • 2021-02-15 11:15 AM | Reuse Minnesota (Administrator)

    As the past week or so has shown us, we here in Minnesota have plenty of winter to go. With many of us avoiding indoor gatherings, getting outside offers a much needed escape from the winter blahs - but many outdoor winter activities require special gear. Here are a few tips for how to take advantage of the snow and crisp winter air, without buying a bunch of new items. An important way to reduce our environmental footprint (and save money!) is by not buying new, as the manufacturing of winter clothing and gear requires a lot of energy and resources. 

    Are you experienced in gearing up for winter outdoor activities? Add a comment below if you have tips or suggestions that we've left out!

    Start with Layering Up

    A successful winter outdoor experience begins with layering up properly. We’re well into a year where outdoor socializing is the least risky way to get together so there’s plenty of information out there on how to layer up properly. Here’s a collection of tips for how to retaining heat while socializing outside in the cold: How to Retain Your Heat (and Stay Up-Beat) with Friends Outside this Winter

    Buy Nothing Groups 

    Check out your local Buy Nothing Group. Focusing on a hyper-local gift economy, these groups are a way to see if anyone in your area has winter gear that they would like to offer up for free. You can find out more about your local buy nothing group at buynothingproject.org.

    Rental Options 

    Just as we can rent canoes in the summer, winter offers many rental options too!

    Hennepin County’s Choose to Reuse program has a great list of rental options.

    Some additional rental options include Sawtooth Outfitters out of Tofte, MN (they also offer used gear ), and Piragis out of Ely, MN.

    Buying Used

    Between in-person thrift shops and online marketplaces, there are a number of places to check to purchase your winter gear second hand.

    A quick google search offers up a number of accessible options for local outdoor gear resale shops. Given that stores may have altered hours or shopping restrictions, it might be a good idea to call ahead.

    A short (not exhaustive) list of places to check for used gear:

    Borrow from Friends or Family

    Maybe you have an Uncle who used to be really into snowmobiling, or a friendly neighbor who stockpiles ice fishing gear. Ask them if you can borrow their gear!! Here’s a helpful explanation of borrowing etiquette, to keep those relationships healthy while borrowing potentially expensive gear: Gearing Up: How to Beg, Borrow and Rent Gear Before You Commit to Buying

    Stay warm, and have fun!

  • 2020-07-17 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    ReUSE Minnesota, along with more than 120 other environmental organizations, sent letters to UberEats, GrubHub, Delivery.com, Doordash, Seamless, PostMates and Caviar asking they change their default ordering process to one that does not automatically include single-use utensils, napkins, condiments, and straws. Customers should have to specifically request those items when they place their order and "opt in." 

    It's a small step, but we can continue work on reducing single-use items (that aren't needed at home or aren't needed with you plan ahead and bring reusables) in our daily actions and choices. Press release details included below. 

    ----

    More than 120 environmental groups ask the food delivery companies to make a small change with a big impact 

    CONTACTS: Judith Enck - 518.605.1770, JudithEnck@Bennington.edu | Jennie Romer - 510.685.1575, jromer@surfrider.org  

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 16, 2020 

    New York City, NY – More than one hundred twenty environmental organizations sent letters to seven national food delivery companies today asking that they change their default ordering process to one that does not automatically include utensils, napkins, condiments, and straws in order to reduce the tsunami of single-use plastic pollution entering our oceans, landfills and incinerators. Instead, customers would need to specifically request these single-use items when they place their order for delivery — “opting in” to receive the specific items they want — reducing costs to restaurants and taking an important step to protect our environment. 

    “Takeout orders are up all over the country as a result of the COVID pandemic; however, the vast majority of people eating at home neither need nor want yet another set of plastic utensils, plastic straws, handful of soy sauce or ketchup packets, or pile of paper napkins. Committing to making this small change to their delivery ordering systems would help reduce single-use packaging and save restaurants a bit of money,” said Judith Enck, president of Beyond Plastics. 

    The letter, addressed to Grubhub/Seamless, DoorDash/Caviar, UberEats/Postmates, and Delivery.com, lays out the argument that making these changes will be a win-win-win proposition, saving restaurants money, keeping customers from overflowing drawers of unwanted soy sauce packets, and keeping plastic pollution out of our communities, parklands, beaches, waterways, and the ocean. 

    “Food delivery platforms have the opportunity to reduce the amount of plastic entering our homes while at the same time saving businesses money by moving to an opt-in system for these items. Similar to how customers choose exactly which toppings they want on their pizza, customers should also be able to opt in to exactly which utensils, napkins, condiments, or straws they want," said Jennie Romer, Legal Associate at the Surfrider Founation's Plastic Pollution Initiative. 

    As consumers increasingly rely on delivery services for their meals, the amount of unwanted single-use utensils and condiments are on the rise as well. Food delivery companies have seen increases in orders during the COVID-19 pandemic, as restaurants have been closed for dining in, and customers have been loath to leave their homes. A recent study found that 98% of all U.S. take-out or delivery meals are consumed at home or a workplace, where reusable cutlery is typically available and preferred. 

    “We appreciate the amplification and expansion of our #CutOutCutlery campaign. This is a very simple solution to a large problem and Plastic-Free July is an ideal time to raise awareness about the damage that seemingly benign plastic cutlery imposes on our planet,” said Sheila Morovati, president and founder of HabitsofWaste.org. 

    Items often included in take-out deliveries, like plastic utensils and straws, are consistently among the top items found in beach clean ups across the country. These items can harm wildlife if swallowed, before breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces, eventually entering the food chain. Tiny plastic particles known as microplastics have been found in soil, water, fruit, zooplankton, sea mist, and humans. Microplastics have been found in stool samples and a study found that adults are ingesting roughly a credit card’s worth of microplastic particles (5 grams) each week, with impacts on human health that are not yet well studied. 

    Plastic production is inextricable from both our climate and environmental justice crises. Plastics are made from a combination of fracked gas and chemicals, and their production and disposal is a major source of global carbon emissions. If plastic production and use grow as currently planned, by 2050, the greenhouse gas emissions from plastic could reach over 56 gigatons—10-13% of the entire remaining carbon budget. 

    Plastics and fossil fuel manufacturing infrastructure — as well as landfills and incinerators --are overwhelmingly located in communities of color. In fact, data from the U.S. EPA showed that people of color are 79% more likely than white people to live in communities where industrial pollution poses the greatest danger to their health. Poor air quality has been linked to the tragic reality that Latino and African-Americans have been three times as likely to become infected with COVID, and twice as likely to die from it as white Americans. 

    Reducing our usage of plastics can help address both of these urgent problems, shielding us from the worst impacts of climate change, while improving the health and lives of communities on the front lines of industrial pollution.

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