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!
How to plan a zero waste event to remember
We all want to throw an awesome event that our guests will enjoy. Why not create a sustainable example for your event-goers as well? It’s easy to show off your commitment to the environment while sharing earth-friendly practices so even more zero waste events will follow! Here are a few ways you can make more memories, not waste, at any function.
Sometimes it’s okay to bother your guests a little bit. In order to cut down on food waste, make sure you know how exactly many people are planning on attending and what their dietary restrictions are.
In our digital world, it gets easier every day to plan and share events online. Plus, if you need to make any last minute updates to the time and venue, you can easily get the word out instead of hunting down paper flyers and invitations. Facebook events, EventBrite, and Evite are all easy (and free!) sites you can use to set up your event and invite friends and family, while scheduling manager sites like Doodle can help you and your guests find a time that works for everyone.
Even with the best kind of planning beforehand, chances are, you’ll still have some leftovers. Asking people to bring containers to bring food back home ensures it isn’t going to waste. Plus, who doesn’t love some free food?!
When possible, make homemade dips and cut up veggies, fruits, cheese, and other items yourself rather than buying plastic appetizer trays and foods packaged in plastic.
At the venue, try working with what you have during event set-up. Ditch plastic table covers for reusable cloth covers, and collaborate with others to see what kind of homemade decorations you can create. Chances are, a lot of your guests may have mason jars, string lights, and tea candles lying around that can create a cozy event atmosphere in just a few minutes!
If you are in need of more dishes, napkins, tablecloths, tables, chairs, or even dresses, don’t worry–all these items are easy to rent. In fact, you’ll find a lot of options in the ReUSE Minnesota directory, like Apres Party and Tent Rentals, Bride to Be Consignment, Brides of France, and Hejny Rental.
Instead of purchasing single-use cups, plates, and silverware, bring your own or rent reusable dining ware. Let's be honest, no one likes eating off of plastic utensils. In fact, it's been shown that people think food tastes better when eaten off stainless or other "real" utensils. Depending on the size of your event, you could also ask guests to bring their mugs, water bottles, and more.
Do you ever get little trinkets (like stress balls, mini flashlights, bottle openers) from events that inevitably end up in your junk drawer? Instead of passing out gift bags full of stuff people likely aren’t going to use, think of ways you can share the party experience. Having a few polaroid cameras onhand or setting up a photobooth can provide guests with a simple souvenir and a unique way to remember the night.
If you’re hosting a wedding or birthday celebration, make it clear to guests beforehand that you aren’t expecting physical gifts. You could ask guests to donate to your favorite charity or nonprofit, or ask for things like cooking classes, concert tickets, or membership passes.
Clearly mark the recycling bins and compost bins. Hint: making the trash bin smaller than the others can help people think twice about where items need to go!
Zero-waste events definitely aren’t zero-fun (sorry, we had to). Let us know if you have any other ideas we can add, or want to share how you created a successful zero waste event for a guest blog post!
Are you still looking for that perfect gift for someone but seem to be all out of ideas? Don’t worry–we’ve got you covered. Instead of buying something new this holiday season, consider repairing or buying refurbished electronics for your loved ones!
If you’re looking to buy refurbished electronics, be sure to check out Tech Discounts, Tech Dump’s retail store. You could also offer the gift of repair, through organizations like Duluth Tech, who specialize in fixing Mac products and computers. They also offer free fix-it clinics to the public, where you can learn to repair your electronics and household items yourself. PC Doodle would also be a great place to get your shattered phone or tablet screen replaced. They offer computer, laptop, phones, and tablet repairs, and if your tech is too big to take to one of their locations, they also offer on-site services (and same day appointments!). Device PitStop has a few different metro locations, and offers computer, laptop, tablet, and smartphone repairs. They also trade, sell, and buy refurbished and repaired devices.
Many major companies also offer refurbished computers. If you want to go this route, you can shop directly at:
If you’re looking for other unique and green gift ideas, the MPCA highlights ways you can give “experiences”–cooking classes, shows, memberships, passes, and more will help you “make memories, not trash”. You can also make other holiday traditions greener, like baking cookies and looking at light neighborhood displays, with this list from the Recyclebank.
Happy holidays from ReUSE!
We’re excited to welcome three new board members to the ReUSE Minnesota team! We asked them, along with our two reelected board members, a few questions about reuse, including the daily challenges they face. What makes YOU passionate about reducing waste?
Steve Jameson, Bridging
Steve joined bridging in 2006, and after a brief hiatus, rejoined in 2014. He has more than 25 years of experience in retail management and financial services, and specializes in team building and employee training. He’s been involved in many aspects of the operational side of reuse, including client deliveries. At Bridging, Steve is responsible for the overall efficiency and effectiveness of internal operations, and for building relationships with partners to procure product donations.
ReUSE MN: What’s challenging about creating a reuse economy/community? How do you confront those challenges?
Jameson: “From the perspective of a furniture bank that is trying to get people to donate things that are still in good condition and appropriate for our clients, the biggest question we get is “what are we supposed to do with the items that Bridging is unable to take?” Whether it is donating items or recycling/reusing, we are a society that has convenience ingrained into our DNA. If someone can’t find a home for unwanted items easily, they will more than likely throw them away.
At Bridging, we have developed a piece of literature that helps people find a home for their unwanted items. If an item is in good condition but is just inappropriate for our clients, we provide a “Donor Resource List” to anyone that is interested. This is a piece that we put together that lists other non-profit organizations that accept all sorts of different items. We provide phone numbers and websites and what each organization takes, by category. We also provide information on a couple of recyclers for common items such as mattresses or electronics. We update this once to twice per year and make sure people know to contact the organization directly since accepted items will change periodically.”
Chris Bollman, Duluth Technology Company
Chris is the found of Duluth Technology Company, a repair business specializing in Apple products, and salvaging and rental services. They also offer classes and individual lessons in Mac computers, iPads, and iPhones, at their office and through Duluth Community Education. He’s passionate about keeping tech waste, in particular, out of the waste stream.
Allison Sawyer, Minnesota Waste Wise Foundation
For the last two years, Allison has worked as a sustainability specialist with the Minnesota Waste Wise Foundation, a nonprofit affiliate of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. They provide energy and waste related consulting services to Minnesota businesses. Allison has also served as a Minnesota GreenCorps member, where she spent two years at St. Louis County Environmental Services. She holds a bachelor of Environment Studies in Geography & Environmental Management with a focus on International Development.
ReUSE MN: What does reuse mean to you?
Sawyer: “To me, reuse is all about encouraging consumption habits that go beyond just recycling. Recycling is great, but still relies on the disposal of items to be re-processed. When that step is eliminated altogether, not only do we use fewer natural resources, but we create an economic cycle in which consumers are more mindful and intentional about the things they own or use.”
Our terrific returning board members also weighed in.
Todd Tanner, University of Minnesota ReUse Program
Todd is the ReUse program coordinator at the University of Minnesota, which salvages discarded materials from across campus to be repurposed, preventing them from ending up in landfills and incinerators. He has also worked as a US Army Reserve Noncommissioned Officer in charge of communications for the 13th PSYOPS battalion, as well as for the Met Council. Todd is the current president of ReUSE Minnesota!
Tanner: “ReUse means being conscientious about how I practice consumption. Before I purchase something I ask myself, do I really need this? If the answer is yes, then I ask if I can borrow or rent the item next. If that isn't an option, or it's something I will use regularly, so renting or borrowing isn't appropriate, I consider where I could get the item used instead of new. Reuse means not submitting to the consumption model we are accustomed to and have been trained to practice. It means considering how to live life with less and only having what is really needed.”
Neal Lewis, Minnesota Computers for Schools
Neal has served as the Director of Operations for Minnesota Computers for Schools since January of 2012. During his time there he has been responsible for regulating environmental certifications to protect employees, the community, and our environment. As an R2 (a safety standard for the electronics refurbishing and recycling industry) recycler, his first goal is to reuse products whenever possible. He also volunteers on the Seri R2 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), helping make routine revisions to the R2 standard.
ReUSE MN: What diverse reuse experience do you bring to the board?
Lewis: “Throughout my life I have helped people keep the products they have running and functional. I have worked in the automotive repair and auto-body field, repaired appliances and furnaces, and have been in the computer service industry for over 30 years. Both professionally and personally I have had a reuse focus all my life.”
Most people think of the “reduce, reuse, recycle” model when it comes to waste that we view as trash, like plastic bottles, food waste, or broken items. However, this mantra can be applied to EVERYTHING – including music! The music industry is a huge part of the economy and popular culture. Here is a guide to how you can be more environmentally conscious when it comes to music!
First – reduce.
This means thinking about how you BUY your music and not buying physical music in the first place, if you can avoid it. This is incredibly easy with the advent of digital music! Instead of collecting crates and crates of vinyl albums or CDs and needing specialized players, simply download the music you want and play it through your smartphone. This results in a much lower environmental footprint.
Second – reuse.
Then we get to recycling. Hopefully you’ve gotten the message that this is the last thing you should do with your music.
Trash. Last, and definitely least, is throwing music in the trash. Cassettes, tapes, and records are allowed in the trash and can be thrown away, but we hope you wouldn’t think of doing this.
Check out The Growler for more on this subject.
New Re-Users, Hobbyists, and experienced DIYers of all ages can all enjoy ReUSE Minnesota’s section of the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle area at the Eco Experience building. Learn about reuse, rental, and repair from demonstrations of repair techniques and reuse projects set in a Craft/Hobby Room illustrating clever ways to reuse and re-purpose a wide range of items.
Demonstration times are 10am-noon, 12:30-2:30 p.m., 3:00-5 p.m., and 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. every day of the fair. Activities change daily and include the opportunity to put together your own basic sewing kit, learning basic hand sewing, identifying tools and learning their uses, learning about outdoor gear repair, basics of bike repair, and a walk-through of what happens when technology is thrown away. Each Saturday, Fairgoers can upcycle t-shirts into reusable grocery bags, while Sundays offer sample Fix-It clinics with info on common repairs.
Join us and become part of the circular economy of reuse!
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
© 2022 Reuse Minnesota. All rights reserved. | Reuse Minnesota is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.