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  • 2022-12-07 10:30 AM | Anonymous

    The holidays are here and our gift to you is the Reuse Minnesota holiday gift guide! You'll find a curated list of gift ideas from our members. There are many unique ideas and some you may not have thought of before, such as gift certificates for repair services or memberships to borrow items. Our members make it easy for you to gift with intention and purpose. We hope this guide will help you normalize reuse in your gift giving all year long!

    View the guide below or open in a separate window.

  • 2022-11-21 2:52 PM | Reuse Minnesota (Administrator)

    Image: Minnesota Retailers Association

    Retail’s biggest week is here… If you plan to do some holiday shopping, we strongly encourage you to skip large corporate chains, and instead enjoy our Reuse Minnesota member guide to local and sustainable businesses around the Twin Cities. Who needs Black Friday, when you can #OptOutside and partake in Small Business Saturday and Sustainable Sunday?

    Shopping local is an important way to invest in our communities, reduce the climate and environmental impacts of our purchasing, and a great way to find unique gifts! Who knows what treasures you'll find when visiting a thrift store? You can handpick a thoughtful, curated gift that will be appreciated by your recipient. You can also move beyond gifting physical items and give the gift of experiences, memberships, and classes.

    Local, small, and sustainable Reuse Minnesota businesses you can support

    • Hennepin Restomods LLC - Is there someone on your list who enjoys restoring cars? This is the place to go if you are looking to refresh or restore your classic car!
    • Keys 4/4 Kids - Promote the love of music with the gift of a piano! Shop the wide selection of quality used pianos. You can even take home donated sheet music at no cost.
    • Littles GO - Have a little one on your list who loves the outdoors? Littles GO offers rental and sales of performance clothing and gear for fast growing little adventurers. Gift cards are also available.
    • Minneapolis Toy Library - Give the gift of toys without acquiring clutter! A membership to the Minneapolis Toy Library gives your loved one the ability to borrow a new toy every 2-4 weeks.
    • Minnesota Tool Library - Know a DIY-er? A membership or gift card to the Minnesota Tool Library gives them access to a large inventory of tools members can use for their projects.
    • Old School by Steeple People - Shop quality used clothing and home goods for your loved ones. They offer gift cards too!
    • Shop for Change - Prism - Shop for new and gently used donations from local businesses and community members.
    • Repair Lair - Gift quality used and repaired gear needed for outdoor activities. You can also “gift” by covering the repair of someone’s favorite existing gear.
    • Repowered - Shop affordable refurbished speakers, gaming consoles and accessories, laptops and more! 
    • RETHINK Tailoring- Gift the skill to mend and sew! A Rethink Tailoring membership gives you access to online support, online classes, and tutorials. Perfect for the budding sewist or person looking to expand their skills.
    • Rethos: Places Reimagined - Give the gift of learning! Rethos offers workshops and classes to connect you to the tools, skills, and experiences you need to take good care of the places you love.
    • Reuse Minnesota - Connect the reuse champion in your life to other reuse advocates! Reuse Minnesota offers individual memberships, or support our work and give a donation as a gift.
    • 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!
    • Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity ReStore - Gift quality used home furnishings and building supplies, or check out their DIY videos for giftable craft ideas for DIY’ing a gift!

    Remember to support reuse by shopping these organizations throughout the year! What are other great local places you like to visit for reuse, rental, and repair?

    Click the map for Google directions to the businesses featured above


    #ShopLocal #ShopSmall #SustainableSunday #SmallBusinessSaturday #BlackFriday #CyberMonday

  • 2022-10-26 2:14 PM | Reuse Minnesota (Administrator)

    These aren’t your grandparents’ cloth diapers! Cloth diapering has come a long way since the days of safety pins and hand washing; and while the technology and design of cloth diapers has improved, the environmental and economic benefits have stood the test of time. The Minnesota Cloth Diaper Bank is encouraging parents across the state to take another look at the benefits of cloth diapers.

    MCDB was founded in 2020 by sisters, Danielle Claseman, who works in responsible sourcing, and Rachel DeVries, a pediatrician. Using cloth diapers on their own children, they wanted to help make cloth diapering accessible, affordable, and achievable for all Minnesota families.

    “There are so many benefits to using cloth diapers - keeping disposable diapers out of landfills and chemicals off our babies’ bodies are some of the big ones,” says Claseman. “But with all of these benefits, we recognize that there are some financial and educational barriers to getting started. We remove those barriers so families can try cloth [diapers] pretty much risk free.”

    The MCDB program loans families a “stash” of 20 cloth diapers, and provides ongoing support and resources. Diapers can be swapped for different styles or replaced with larger sizes as the child grows. Most of the cloth diapers used in the program are gently used (and sanitized) and have been donated, further reducing the environmental impact. There is no cost to participate in the program (unless shipping costs are incurred) and anyone in Minnesota is welcome to apply.

    “Approximately 20 billion disposable diapers are added to landfills throughout the country each year. That waste won’t decompose for about 400 years, so the environmental implications are huge,” says DeVries. “We also know that one in three Minnesota families struggle to provide enough clean diapers. Our goal is to support families and divert as many single-use diapers from the landfill as possible.”

    Since their founding, MCDB has helped more than 200 Minnesota families meet their diapering needs with cloth diapers. An unexpected contributor to their success early on was the pandemic and the supply chain shortages that accompanied it. Claseman says, “We saw a big increase in applications during the early months of the pandemic. With product shortages, including diapers, I think it sparked a renewed interest in cloth diapers which are reusable and allow you to be more self-sufficient.”

    As more families are looking for ways they can reduce their environmental footprint, Claseman and DeVries want to spread the word about MCDB’s free diaper loan program.

    “We want to get the word out that we’re here to help, and we have diapers and supplies ready to go! The more children we can get in cloth diapers, the more we can reduce the economic and environmental impact of diapering,” says DeVries.

    For more information or to apply for diapers, visit Everyone is welcome to apply!

    If you're not in need of diapers, but are interested in volunteering with us we're always looking to expand our network of supporters. Volunteering information is available at

    About Minnesota Cloth Diaper Bank

    We are working to make cloth diapering accessible, affordable, and achievable for all Minnesota families. Our aim is to minimize the economic and environmental impacts of diapering.


    We recognize that one in every three Minnesota families struggle to provide a sufficient number of clean diapers for regular diaper changes. Due to a prohibitively large racial income gap in Minnesota, families with the greatest financial need tend to be families of color.

    Cloth diapering—though a more affordable option in the long-term—is often unattainable in the short-term for low-income families with the initial cost of a diaper stash often surpassing $500.


    Every year, approximately 20 billion disposable diapers are tossed into landfills throughout the country, creating about 3.5 million tons of waste—waste that does not decompose for 400 years. This heavy toll on our environment can be mitigated through the use of cloth diapers.

    Though cloth diapers must be regularly laundered, the water used in this process is actually 2.3 times less than the water necessary for manufacturing and using disposable diapers.


    To help remove the financial barrier of cloth diapering and decrease the environmental impact of disposable diapers, the Minnesota Cloth Diaper Bank has created a free cloth diaper loan program.

    MCDB’s cloth diaper loan program provides cloth diapers to families free-of-charge, with the expectation that the family will return the diapers once their child no longer requires them.

    Qualifying applicants to our program receive a starting cloth diaper stash (new or gently used diapers which have been laundered and, if necessary, repaired), which they may keep for as long as they need. Once the diapers are no longer required, the recipient ships them back to Minnesota Cloth Diaper Bank, where they are laundered, repaired, and (if viable) passed on to the next family.

    1 According to a September 6, 2019 Star Tribune article, “poverty among whites in Minnesota is about 7%, while the rate is more than four times higher at 32% for blacks, the third biggest gap in the country.”
     Reinhardt, Jenn. “Cloth Diapers and Water Usage.” All About Cloth Diapers.

  • 2022-10-25 11:16 AM | Deleted user

    E-waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the world. Technology has become essential in personal and professional settings. Therefore, consumers, businesses, and policy-makers must be informed and engaged with proper e-waste management—and more importantly how to reduce the waste to begin with.

    According to The World Counts, the world produces 50 million tons of e-waste annually. This type of waste comprises 70% of all toxic waste and only about 12.5% of it is recycled. E-waste, regardless of where it is disposed, poses significant threats to public health and is proving to be a severe international challenge. But as with any challenge, comes an opportunity to make effective and impactful changes that everyone can take part in.

    This global issue requires a global response, particularly from the top three countries of e-waste generation: China, the United States, and India. Circular economics have been receiving more attention and implementation in recent years as a counter to the traditional “take-make-waste” model. The Circular Economy Practitioner Guide can be found here. While committing to supporting local circular economies can seem daunting, the three R’s of sustainability make it easy!

    The first and most important step to slowing the production of e-waste is to reduce! 

    • Only replace electronics when necessary: Unnecessarily purchasing electronics can be costly, for you and the environment! Instead of upgrading every couple of years, consider investing time in taking care of your devices. The New York Times posted an article with some useful tips and tricks of doing just that!

    • Buy tech with good reviews that are built to last: When it is time to make a needed upgrade, take the time to do research as a consumer. What are the reviews saying about the product? Does the manufacturer have a reputation for producing durable and long lasting products? Taking the time to thoroughly research your options will save you money down the road and will help reduce e-waste!

    • Look into warranty information and accessibility/right to repair: Another thing to consider when purchasing a new device is the duration and quality of the warranty policy and if the manufacturer supports you right to repair your items. You can learn more about the electronics repair industry from The Repair Association.

    The next best thing in doing your part to minimize e-waste is to consider reuse! Here are some things to consider:

    • Fix it before replacing it: If your technology is on the fritz, consider taking it to a local business that can refurbish it. Fixing products is cheaper and requires fewer materials than buying new ones. More often than not, malfunctioning technology has many years left once it is properly fixed. Tech Fixers in Shakopee are a great place to get your electronics repaired!

    • Refurbish: With changing demands of the home and the workplace, some technology needs to be replaced eventually. That’s ok! But instead of tossing the old tech in the trash, find a nearby business that will take the products to refurbish and resell.

    • Consider buying second-hand/refurbished items: If you are in the market for a new laptop or cell phone, consider buying used/refurbished products. In addition to being far more affordable, you will help support circular economics in your community and reduce the costs of production for a new product. Businesses can also take part in purchasing second-hand. Head to Alta Tech to look through their services and opportunities!

    Eventually electronics reach the end of their life. While they may not be worth much to us at this point, it is important to dispose of e-waste responsibly. You can do this by recycling!

    Electronics of any kind cannot be recycled in regular single-sort recycling. 

    Electronics must be taken to a county dropsite that accepts electronics or an organization that specializes in properly managing e-waste. We are fortunate in the Twin Cities area to have many reuse businesses who are committed to this type of work—like Repowered!

    It is important to properly manage e-waste for many reasons:

    • Unwanted electronics, especially those containing lithium batteries, can start fires in local recycling centers.

    • Electronics, as they break down, release many toxic chemicals and metals into the surrounding environment—a serious threat for nearby communities.

    • Recycling electronics allows for the opportunity to capture and reuse rare metals and materials, lowering the demand for mining of precious metals. 

    Photos: Minnesota Pollution Control Agency/Flickr

  • 2022-08-01 4:57 PM | Reuse Minnesota (Administrator)

    Working from home and hybrid workplaces have offered a lot of opportunities for more sustainable work (e.g. reduced emissions from commuting and heating/cooling office buildings, etc.). Use these tips to continue prioritizing reuse in your workplace(s) whether at home or in the office! 

    How to incorporate reuse in the workplace.pdf

  • 2022-07-27 10:13 AM | Reuse Minnesota (Administrator)

    Member spotlight: Mr. Michael Recycles Bicycles

    Q&A with Benita Warns, owner of Mr. Michael Recycles Bicycles

    Click here for video of the interview.

    RM | Describe what MMRB does

    At Mr. Michael Recycles Bicycles we collect used bicycles, fix them and give them away. To pay for it, we sell used parts and accessories, used bicycles and a full line of repair services.

    RM | How do bikes find their way to you?

    The bicycles that we get at Mr. Michael Recycles Bicycles primarily come from the five cities that we have contracts with for recycling services. People bring their discarded bicycles to either community recycling events or to recycling centers and they drop them off. We come and pick them up. We repair those that can be repaired and then we tear apart and salvage parts off of those that can't be. People also donate bikes to us. All they have to do is call us at 651-641-1037 and schedule a donation appointment, and they may bring bicycles in. The bicycles we need most are those that fit tall men, mountain and hybrid styles and lightweight bicycles to fit petite women.


    RM | What is the process to request a refurbished bicycle?

    To get on our wait list to receive a gift bicycle, all you need to do is call 651-641-1037 when our list is open. Leave the following information on our voicemail: your first and your last name, your height, and a reliable telephone number to reach you when the bike is done. We do not do means testing so anyone can request a bicycle. We do have a lifetime limit of no more than two bicycles per person. Our wait list right now is closed. To find out when the wait list is open, all you need to do is go to our website and we always have that information there.

    RM | What other services do you offer?

    The other types of services we offer at Mr. Michael Recycles Bicycles are bicycle sales, where a customer can come in and purchase a reconditioned used bicycle or repair services. We offer a full line of repair services, everything from tune ups to wheel turning and just about any other service you can think of. We also offer sales of used parts and accessories, and we have a special outdoor sale on Sunday afternoons from 1 to 3, where you can browse a garage full of all sorts of second hand bicycle treasures.

    In addition to our regular services at the shop, we also occasionally do mobile repair workshops. Typically we do these for low-income or homeless populations where we come and do bicycle repairs free of charge for them.

    RM | Where does your passion for reuse come from?

    As a kid, we were taught to never waste anything. We ended up saving just about everything and reusing it for one thing or another. My creative juices would get flowing, and so I would find all sorts of ways to reuse stuff for different purposes. We had gone to a neighborhood cleanup and we saw bicycles being discarded that were perfectly usable, we just could not stand to see that kind of waste, especially knowing that there was such a need for people to receive bicycles. And so we started collecting them. But my passion for reuse really comes from when I was a kid and not having a lot, and so we had to creatively use everything that we had.

    RM | Why is a Reuse Minnesota membership important to MMRB?

    Our organization, Mr. Michael Recycles Bicycles decided to become part of Reuse Minnesota because we strongly believe in the reuse economy. We believe that we need to be using all of the things we have rather than making new stuff, because it is a much greener alternative and it is a more economical alternative. We feel that Reuse Minnesota does a great deal to promote and enhance the reuse economy as well as allows us to connect with other businesses with similar values to ours in the area of reuse.

    Mr. Michael Recycles Bicycles

  • 2022-06-30 7:17 AM | Reuse Minnesota (Administrator)

    Member spotlight: City of Minneapolis Solid Waste & Recycling
    Q&A with Claire Pardubsky, Minnesota GreenCorps member, serving with the City of Minneapolis Solid Waste and Recycling

    Click here for video of the interview.

    RM | Describe what the role of the City of Minneapolis Solid Waste & Recycling department is, and how reuse fits into it.

    Our office's primary role is as a waste hauler and most of our staff are out in the field collecting trash, recycling, and organics from Minneapolis homes. In addition, we provide community education and outreach and we spend a lot of time answering questions about how to dispose of items that don't necessarily belong in your trash and your recycling carts. That is one place where we like to center reuse in our work.

    When we're answering questions on the phone or on our website, one of the first things that we list and recommend to folks is to reuse an item or two if it's usable to share it with friends, family or neighbors on various platforms to make sure items get used to their fullest capacity before being thrown away. Going forward, we're really excited to do more campaigning to promote the idea of "loving your stuff" as well as holding more swap events.

    RM | Tell us about the recent garden tool swap event you planned.

    One of our first swap events has been our garden tool swap, which we started in spring of 2021. We just held our second swap this spring of 2022, and both events have been a huge success with increasing participation this second year. The reason we started with garden tools is because so many folks really started backyard gardening and landscaping, and spending more time at home over the last couple of years and enjoying the space that they have. We wanted to make sure that as items start to get neglected by folks that don't have the time anymore, and maybe took on too much, or as more people start new backyard gardens, that all of those items get used to their fullest capacity. That's why we started with garden tools. So far it's been a huge success. The second year we held the swap at seven citywide parks, and it's been a blast.

    RM | How does the swap work?

    This year's swap took place for about three hours on a Saturday morning, and it was held at seven different parks across the city of Minneapolis. At each of those parks anywhere from 2 to 4 volunteers were present to help unload vehicles, tally items as they were dropped off or taken, and chat with participants about what their gardening plans were. Participants were welcomed to take or leave anything that they wanted. There was no limit on dropping off or taking items. You did not have to bring items to participate in the swap, and everything was free.

    RM | What type of impact did your swap event have?

    Over three hours we had over 330 participants. Over 2,200 items were dropped off and by the end of the morning more than 1,400 of those items were already taken and claimed by new homes. Even as we were wrapping up the event at each location, folks were walking up and claiming items and kind of perusing what was left over. Any leftover items were still reused. We had partnered with neighborhood organizations as well as on site volunteers and community members to make sure the items were reused to their fullest capacity. Anything that didn't get swapped in that three hour window was listed on a free exchange platform for neighbors to come grab. It was shared out at a local farmer's market. We also had some volunteers driving items around to local community gardens and sharing items that way. It was really motivating to see.

    RM | What other reuse activities does the City of Minneapolis Solid Waste & Recycling support?

    Another ongoing reuse activity that our office is really excited about is our Facebook group, which now has upwards of 800 members. Its primary purpose is to answer tricky recycling and organics questions. By posting those answers publicly where 800 plus people can see them, we help reduce confusion pretty efficiently. It's also served as a really effective platform to promote reuse. Often people will post an item, planning to throw it away, and someone else will suggest that they post it on a local free exchange website. It's really motivating to watch community members share our enthusiasm for reuse and often beat us to the punch on recommending that folks list items for reuse or find a secondary purpose for them before they throw items away.

    RM | Why is it important to the City of Minneapolis Solid Waste & Recycling to be a Reuse Minnesota member?

    Minneapolis Solid Waste and Recycling loves being a Reuse Minnesota member for a number of reasons. I think primarily among them, it's really grounding to connect with other organizations that want to center reuse in their work and are already doing really awesome work. It's really inspiring to see other opportunities for reuse across the state of Minnesota and draw inspiration from some of those organizations. I'm personally hoping that in the coming years our office has increasing bandwidth to promote reuse and hold more swap events. I have a long list of ideas from our time with Reuse Minnesota.

    City of Minneapolis Solid Waste & Recycling

  • 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.


  • 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 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

  • 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. 

    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!

Reuse Minnesota was founded in 2012 and is a member-based nonprofit that supports repair, resale, and rental businesses, bringing visibility to the reuse sector as a means to lower our state's impact on the environment.

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