Reuse, rental, and repair businesses make an impact on their community, and ReUSE Minnesota is working on measuring it. The stories of our economic, environmental, and social impact, when supplemented with data, are persuasive tools for advertising and advocacy.
This week, we are kicking off this project with a quick 2-minute survey. We are asking all reuse, rental, and repair businesses in Minnesota to complete a survey, telling us a little bit about each business' activities, staff, mission, and the impact it is making.
Businesses that participate will receive an Impact Report that provides some insights to the initial measurements, as well as a strategy guide for using stories to promote and advocate for business.
Click here for more information and instructions for taking this survey.
Did you know? The Minneapolis Toy Library is a lending program for families with children ages birth - 5 years. Like a book library, you can check out toys, take them home for up to 4 weeks, and then exchange them for new ones when you return!
With a mission to reduce waste, promote development, and build community, the Minnesota Toy Library offers a sliding scale for their annual membership ($40-$100) depending on what works best for your family.
Located in the basement of the Richfield Lutheran Church, the toy library offers an opportunity for families to connect with one another while supporting their child(ren)’s development through play and reducing their impact on the environment.
Toys are broken up into categories:
Here are some helpful tips for your first visit:
ReUSE Minnesota has been busy building a reuse movement statewide, and we’re excited to launch our first ever regional conference! The day will be an energizing gathering for our incredible community to connect and strengthen Minnesota’s reuse, rental, and repair sectors. Here’s everything you need to know about the conference on Monday, November 4th, 2019.
Where will it be?
The conference will at the Humphrey School Conference Center at the University of Minnesota.
What will the day look like?
You can check out the schedule-at-a-glance here. Like a typical conference, you’ll hear an inspiring keynote address, break into your first session, eat lunch and view the tabling exhibits, attend the next two sessions, and finally, talk with your old and new friends over drinks and snacks at the networking happy hour. We will announce our speakers soon, and update our online schedule and this post.
Who should attend?
The conference is open to everyone interested in reuse. Here are a few example attendees::
Reuse business owners. This may include more businesses than you think! People who work in repurposing, upcycling, remanufacturing, deconstruction, second-hand stores, tool and toy rentals, electronics repair, antiques, and much more.
People interested in starting a reuse business. One of the presentations will focus on how to start a reuse business, and another will focus on effective marketing and retail strategies - come learn some best practices and next steps!
Policymakers and local government leaders. We need reuse legislation to reinforce these practices, and establish them as the norm for businesses and consumers across the state. HF 1138 passed out of two Minnesota House committees this session, and came very close to getting the first floor vote on Right to Repair legislation nationwide. At the conference we’ll discuss existing and anticipated policies, and how to most effectively integrate reuse into municipal programs.
Reuse activists and advocates. More sessions will explore how to measure the impacts of reuse, including its social, economic, and environmental effects.
Okay, I’m there. How do I register?
In Minnesota alone, there are over 7,000 reuse, repair, and rental businesses and organizations. You’re invited to support the growth of these industries and connect with the people making reuse happen at our 2019 conference! Register here.
Take advantage of early bird rates through September 30!
I am pleased to announce that Management HQ (MHQ), ReUSE Minnesota’s association management partner, has hired a permanent executive director to serve ReUSE Minnesota (ReUSE). Jen Newberg began her work as the ReUSE Executive Director on Monday, August 12, 2019.
After a deliberate and thorough search process, we are pleased to announce the selection of Jen to lead ReUSE. She shares our vision of a strong Minnesota reuse economy, and she has extensive experience in leadership and development positions with social service nonprofits.
Prior to her selection as the ReUSE Executive Director, Jen served as the Director of Development for Episcopal Homes Foundation of Minnesota; Director of Individual and Planned Giving for YWCA Minneapolis; and Director of Philanthropy Services at Allina Health.
Jen says of the opportunity to serve as Executive Director of ReUSE “I’m authentically interested in supporting the strategic vision and leading the operations of ReUSE Minnesota. So far, my career has focused on creating positive change in the world through philanthropy and ReUSE Minnesota builds on that by engaging Minnesotans in creating change through more sustainable living.”
In her fundraising roles she has worked closely with board members and committee volunteers in developing relationships, visioning goals, project and budget planning, supporting volunteers in decision-making and holding teams accountable to project milestones.
With a solid leadership team selected, I am confident that ReUSE will expand our mission to drive forward reuse in our communities.
Jenny Kedward, Board of Directors President
This month's featured member is the City of St. Louis Park. In April 2019 the City of St. Louis Park celebrated the 35th anniversary of its curbside recycling program. Over the years, the city has worked hard to help residents and businesses recycle better. However, the city now has a comprehensive plan and a climate action plan that seek significant reductions in waste. And while recycling and composting have environmental benefits, preventing and reducing waste offers the most significant impact. How, as a municipality, can we encourage residents to consider reuse and repair to reduce waste?
In October 2017, the city hosted its first clothing swap. 80 people attended and brought 920 pounds of clothing. The swap has been held annually since, with attendance reaching 190 people from 20 cities this July (and 2,315 pounds of clothing and accessories!). At the events, approximately 60% of the clothing is swapped and taken home by attendees. The rest is donated to local nonprofits, with a small amount being set aside for textile recycling. The St. Louis Park Emergency Program (STEP) comes at the end of each event to select items for their clothing and coat closets. The remaining items have gone to ARC Value Village, PRISM, and Old School by Steeple People.
Check out a video of a recent swap here!
The city hosted gardener’s swaps in spring 2018 and 2019, aimed at encouraging the reuse of yard and garden tools, while also providing space for swapping plants. The event provided a perfect space to match up people getting out of gardening with new gardeners and homeowners. The swap is now an annual event – mark your calendar for May 12, 2020!
Do you want to be a featured Member Highlight in upcoming newsletters? Join ReUSE Minnesota as an organizational member and you could be chosen!
If you’ve been by the Eco Experience, you may have noticed some fantastic furniture pieces in our Repair & Reuse Room. For this year’s fair, ReUSE Minnesota partnered with four talented individuals to create our reused living room. Check them out, and explore their offerings before you head to a place selling new, less durable, and less sustainable options! As you can see by the measures below, a reused option can have a big impact!
Salvaged Wood & Marble Slab Dining Room TableAndy Weld, Rovan Handcrafted Furniture
If every household in Minnesota bought a table like this instead of a newly manufactured one, we would avoid generating greenhouse gases equal to burning over 27.5 million gallons of gasoline.**
Restyled Antique Settee with Sustainable Fiber Stuffing and Reclaimed Textiles
Helen Miller, Miller UpholsteringBuying refurbished instead of new:
If every household in Minnesota bought a piece of furniture like this instead of a newly manufactured one, we would avoid generating greenhouse gases equal to burning over 5.5 million gallons of gasoline.**
Overdyed Reused Rug
Carter Averbeck , Omforme Design
Buying refurbished instead of new:
If every household in Minnesota bought a rug like this instead of a newly manufactured one, we would avoid generating greenhouse gases equal to burning over 14.5 million gallons of gasoline.**
Reused Leather Belt Chair
Carter Averbeck, Omforme Design
If every household in Minnesota bought a chair like this instead of a newly manufactured one, we would avoid generating greenhouse gases equal to burning over 7 million gallons of gasoline.**
Reconstructed Glass Top End Table
Kim Yeager, Lark Nest Design
If every household in Minnesota bought a table like this instead of a newly manufactured table, we would avoid generating greenhouse gases equal to burning over 3 million gallons of gasoline.**
*Greenhouse gas emissions calculated with Sustainable Minds© Life Cycle Assessment Tool** Equivalencies calculated with US EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator
Guest post by Steve Thomas, Board Member, ReUSE Minnesota
A July 11 article in the Star Tribune reported on the proposed 362-foot landfill expansion in Burnsville by Waste Management; a mountain of waste looming more than 30 stories over the Minnesota River. Along with creating an ugly eyesore along an essential waterway, this expansion will pollute our land, water, and air for decades, even centuries, to come. (“Stop Trashing the Climate” is one of several studies documenting the link between climate change and the unsustainable practice of waste generation).
Landfills are archaic, and we know they are harmful to our communities in ways beyond just a stinky eyesore. They are a source of harmful greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases. Landfills also have a detrimental impact on soil, vegetation, and wildlife. And they are a major source of groundwater pollution in the form of “leachate,” runoff from rain and waste contamination.
We can and must do better. We can and must continue to support innovative and proven alternatives to landfills such as the reuse and repair of goods and materials.
At ReUSE Minnesota, we are expanding Minnesota’s reuse sector and studying the dramatic benefits of reducing waste through reuse. Research shows that one of the primary ways cities and counties are reducing landfill waste is through the expansion of the reuse sector. Currently, according to the MPCA, Minnesota’s reuse sector directly employs 46,000 employees and generates at least $4 billion in gross sales annually. And this sector continues to grow, showing there is a real desire to grow a sustainable economy and reduce waste across the State.
We can take personal steps to reduce waste through reuse and we must hold our policymakers accountable for supporting sustainable, healthy communities. Local, county, and State agencies must heed the warning of the environmental hazards associated with increased waste; instead, these leaders must support reuse initiatives, which will reduce pollutants (including greenhouse gasses), build a healthier future, and a stronger economy.
For instance, the legislature must pass the Fair Repair Bill, which would require manufacturers to provide repair information and replacement parts for consumer goods like refrigerators, small appliances, computers, cell phones, and more, to reduce waste.
Metro area cities should also look to other forward-thinking cities across the country, which are adopting new policies and practices to reduce waste in landfills. To date, more than 160 municipalities across the country have adopted policies to reduce construction and demolition (C&D) waste, which now makes up the largest amount of waste in landfills. According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, more than 80 percent of the 1.6 million tons of construction and demolition waste generated Statewide in 2013 was landfilled. Demolishing buildings and burying the waste is simply not a healthy or sustainable practice.
Instead of expanding the “dump,” we urge local officials to adopt a much more enlightened policy. Reduce waste on the front end. For example, a policy of reusing at least 5% of a building and recycling an additional 70% of its materials, typically results in net zero emissions. This policy also reduces substantially the amount of toxic material to buried in the ground.
One of ReUSE Minnesota’s members, Better Futures Minnesota, is a local pioneer in the effort to divert building materials from the waste stream. According to a Ecotone Analytics Environmental Impact Analysis, the demolition of 2000 sq ft house emits, on average, 250 metric tons of CO2 which is equal to driving 5 cars for a year. As an alternative, Better Futures diverts 85% of this typical house from the landfill, which results in net zero emissions.
Minnesota’s estimated 46,000 workers in the reuse and repair sectors are practicing innovative solutions and practical alternatives to the building a 30-story landfill. Reuse helps us protect Mother Earth and build healthier communities. We call for local, county, and State officials to make a new choice: support solutions to reduce waste and help grow a reuse economy.
We can’t wait to host the Repair for Reuse room again at the Minnesota State Fair Eco Experience! You won't want to miss the countless hands-on activities, fix-it resources, and demos from many of our awesome member organizations. Whether you’re new to reuse, a hobbyist, or an experienced DIYer, you’ll learn something new about reuse, rental, and repair.
Here’s a look at what we have in store:
The fair runs August 23-September 6! Help us spread the word by sharing on Facebook.
The clothing industry is one of the most environmentally destructive, and it can be hard to know where to even start to find clothing with a lighter footprint. Luckily, at the Green Gifts Fair on Saturday, November 17, ReUSE Minnesota and the Thrift Stylists from Arcs Value Village will be on hand to show you how to create a wardrobe you love that’s also easy on the planet!
The 13th annual Green Gifts Fair will run from 10am - 5pm at the Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis. There will be 85 sustainable vendors, education booths, food, prizes, and more. The 2018 theme is #MyGreenJourney—exploring and celebrating ALL of our journeys to live sustainably and have an earth-friendly holiday season. Attendees can also complete an activity passport throughout the fair for (adult and kid-friendly) prizes. Invite your friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers – you won’t want to miss it!
Visit www.doitgreen.org/green-gifts-fair for the full list of vendors, demos, and the main stage schedule.
Want to spend more time at the Fair, hang out with ReUSE Minnesota volunteers, and help teach others about reuse? Sign up for a volunteer shift.
Have you ever stumbled upon the perfect find at your local thrift store, only to take it home and realize it was broken? Or maybe that beautiful quilt your grandma made now has a few holes and tears? Well, don’t despair: ReUSE has a great network of repair volunteers around Minnesota ready to help restore your well-loved and soon-to-be-loved items. The Fix-It Clinics in both Hennepin and Dakota County offer fantastic opportunities to repair your items for free, while teaching valuable skills and keeping items out of the trash!
For this blog, we connected with a few Fix-It volunteers and asked: what’s your most memorable fix-it story? Here’s what we heard:
“At our very first Fix-It Clinic in Sept 2012, a guy came in with an antique radio. He and his girlfriend had been browsing antique stores, and this radio was playing a song they loved, so they bought it. A little while later she dropped the radio and it stopped working. For her birthday, he wanted to fix it. All the volunteers ate up the story and were eager to help. They dug in and ended up fixing the problem with the spring from a ballpoint pen. He left happy. Just before her birthday, he tested the radio, and it wasn’t working. Because he participated in the repair, he opened the radio back up, found a loose wire, reattached it and the radio worked. She was thrilled to have the radio working again for her birthday! They later got married and the radio was at their reception!”
“A couple of years ago, a gentleman came in with a sewing machine which hadn't been used in several years and he couldn't get to work. It was a not long until Halloween and he wanted to use it to sew costumes for children. It would turn over by hand with great resistance. I did a 'clean and lubrication' which isn't very hard and usually cures such machines.
Well, this helped a little but it had resistance to moving at some points in its rotation. I began to think there was a bad gear or some such, which I can't fix without a replacement for the broken part. I persisted with little more lubrication on moving parts and more attempts to get it to work using the foot pedal. Finally it began to run smoothly. The fellow who brought it in was overjoyed and began to jump with joy.
You get paid for doing this in ways better than money."
I grew up helping my Dad with lots of projects around the house, including restoring antique furniture. One of my favorite fixes is to make a wobbly wooden chair sturdy again by gluing the joints. Once all of the joints are glued and in the correct position, use a piece of laundry line or other rope (even a jump rope would do) as a clamp for the joints. Wrap the rope around the outside of the chair legs and knot it. Place a wooden spoon or long screwdriver or any other sturdy item perpendicular to the rope and begin turning it to tighten the rope. Be careful as you twist because the wooden spoon will have a tendency to “unwind”. When the rope is snug and provides the right tension needed to hold the joints in place, secure the spoon and wipe of any glue that oozed out. Once the glue is dry (usually overnight), carefully unwind the spoon and rope and your chair will be as good as new and you won’t have to purchase any expensive clamps or grow a third arm to hold everything in place! This technique can be used on just about anything that’s difficult to clamp, providing you’re able to get a rope around it.
I love to look for vintage quilts at flea markets. Sometimes they have been damaged or the fabric has simply worn out. To repair a hole in a quilt top without taking the whole thing apart, consider adding a piece of fabric under the hole and hand sewing around it to secure the patch. This type of fix should work on just about any type of hole, whether created by a tear or if the fabric has disintegrated. For quilts that are more damaged, use a mesh like fabric such as tulle to reinforce the area and then secure a patch.”
If you have a story you’d like to share, send it our way! We’d love to add it to this post or include a longer story as a separate blog. Happy fixing!
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.
Contact usEmail Reuse Minnesota612-314-6283reusemn.org
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