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Living Green 365: Resolutions, reuse, and the big idea

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Updated: Thursday, May 30, 2019

Reposted from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

 

What's the big idea?

In resolutions and sustainable consumption, keep the big idea in mind but go after it one step at a time.

Did you make a resolution for the New Year? Was it to buy lots of new stuff, online or otherwise? (Didn’t think so.)

We’ve got a hunch, dear Living Green 365 reader, that your hopes for 2017 include keeping our air and water clean, and not using up finite natural resources. Those are big goals. Psychologists suggest that people keep the big ideas of their resolutions in mind, but break them down into manageable steps they can tackle through the year.


Let’s start with reusing a little more. According to one poll, 91% of Americans think the way we live produces too much waste. Even the greenest among us have room to improve when it comes to our consumption patterns.

The idea here is easy – keep what we have longer, get what we need by borrowing or buying secondhand, and not end up burdened with the kind of stuff that makes us feel both cluttered and empty.

Reuse does all sorts of good things. It:

  • Fosters green, reuse-related jobs like repair and consignment and keeps dollars local.
  • Prevents waste, conserves natural resources and reduces greenhouse gasses. (How? Keeping it in use longer slows our use of virgin resources and creation of waste. You can find out more on reuse and the circular economy.)


Reuse is easy to love, but it can be hard to do when one-click-shopping is so tempting. So try committing to just one or two of these tips to help you reuse more:

Keep things longer

Tip 1. Practice gratitude for what you have. The first step to keeping things longer is to value them. Be mindful and grateful for an item, and you will find it easier to treasure. (The science of happiness says that happy people are grateful for what they have, and don’t compare themselves to others.)

  • Treasure meaningful things. Do you remember that mug from your grandfather’s workshop? That’s meaningful. Why get a generic new mug to replace the one that reminds you of your grandpa?
  • Try something simple, like sticking a post-it that says “nature is here” on a closet door. Everything in that closet is a little bit of nature – it’s mined out of a mountain, or grown from a plant or animal, made with energy from oil, sun, or wind, and with the labor of a real person somewhere. If you can envision the mountain, the plant, the animal, the person, you might find yourself holding onto that sweater fondly and not feeling the pull for another.
  • Use it often. The more you use something, the more it becomes deeply yours. Me? I’ve been using the same glass, mug, bowl, and plate at work for 8 years. Each has a story. Don’t need any others, I reuse these every day.

Tip 2. Buy it right the first time. We talk about buying durable all the time. But how do you know if something will last? Let your experience and intuition guide you. That $5 t-shirt that you can see through when it’s new? Won’t last. That cheap freebie water bottle offered at the community event? Don’t take it. You know it’ll leak the first time you use it.

  • Buy an antique. You can be pretty sure it’ll last, because it already has!
  • Buy a high quality item with a guarantee to fix it. Tara Button has done a lot of the leg work and found things that are made to last more than one lifetime by companies that will fix them if they break. Check out www.Buymeonce.com.

Tip 3. Show it some love. There’s a reason you’re supposed to vacuum out the dust from the back of your fridge once in a while. I know. I didn’t do it. And my fridge died. Once you’ve invested in something of quality, or have something you value – treat it well. And if it needs a little repair – great! There are so many options for fixing these days. We wrote about it here: Fixing. I recently had my old leather purse redyed; it’s as good as new.

Tame the “buy it new, buy it now” impulses

Tip 1. Take a photo instead of buying. We are hard-wired to respond to novelty. But that buzz of having a new thing wears off after just a few days and we often regret we spent the money. Next time you’re tempted, try taking a photo of the thing that caught your eye. Look at the photo enough times and the novelty might wear off. You may find you no longer “have to have” it.

Check out this fun video to remind you of all the great reasons to get less!

Tip 2. Commit to trying at least one second-hand option before you jump to online shopping sites. Check ReUSEmn.org’s new directory to see if they have a store listed near you. Or ask if a neighbor has one they are getting rid of – Next Door is great for this.

Seek access over ownership

The average electric drill spends only 15 minutes of its life actually drilling holes. The rest of its sad life is on your garage wall, taking up space. Many toys are the same – a child may love it for a year and grow out of it. For things like this, we only need access to them when we need them, we don’t need to own them. It’s already happened for music (Pandora, iTunes), and movies (Netflix).

Tip 1. “I’ve got one you can use.” Help someone else reuse. Offer to lend something you have. The offer will probably come back to you. Acts of kindness and creating community relationships will increase your happiness while you increase reuse.

Tip 2. Use or start a toy library, or a tool library. The Northeast Minneapolis Tool Library and the Minneapolis Toy Library lend tools and toys the way traditional libraries lend books. So simple and powerful. These can be small and simple – with just a few members in your neighborhood, or larger and more ambitious.

My first step in 2017? I hate remodeling, but my bathroom needs fixing. I’m resolving to explore the great building and architectural salvage businesses around the Twin Cities to find the fixtures, cabinets, and hardware I need.

Which tip will you start with?


Community events and resources

Where Do We Go From Here? The science, policy and politics of addressing and adapting to global-scale environmental change. Wednesday, February 1, 2017, 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Camp Bar, St. Paul , MN. Everything has an impact on the environment. Climate change is top of mind for many, but our carbon dioxide emissions are only the beginning of the story. The ecological outcomes of our activities take myriad forms and have far reaching implications. Join us for a wide-ranging discussion about the science, politics and policy driving our complex relationship with our planet’s systems. Sponsored by U of M College of Biological Sciences. Part of the Petri Dish series, which explores how biology affects our lives and what it means for our future. For information or to register: http://petridish.bpt.me/

Wild Ones 2017 Design With Nature Conference—Planting Matters. February 18, 2017. Anderson Student Center, University of St. Thomas, St. Paul Campus. Sixteenth annual Native Plant conference hosted by Wild Ones chapters in greater Twin Cities Metro, featuring keynote speaker Douglas Tallamy, author of Bringing Nature Home. Register here.

Tags:  Green 

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ReUSE Minnesota and the Minneapolis Home & Remodeling show offer Upcycle Challenge

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, January 24, 2017
Updated: Thursday, May 30, 2019

ReUSE MN has been getting ready to work at the Minneapolis Home and Remodeling Show at US Bank Stadium January 27-29th.ReUSE MN members Empty the Nest and the University of Minnesota Reuse Center have donated chairs for artists to reimagine for the show’s Upcycle Challenge.Other members, including Better Futures Minnesota, will be at the show managing the Upcycle Challenge auction of the chairs for the benefit of ReUSE MN.

Local vintage shop Upsy Daisy created a Prince themed chair for attendees to bid on!

 

This is the first year that remodeling is part of the show’s mission and we’re excited to promote reuse for major home projects. See below for a blog entry we’re re-posting from the Better Futures. It describes how “deconstruction” and reuse are better options than demolition and material recycling.

Across Minnesota, older homes and barns are being demolished to make way for new buildings or farmland. When buildings are demolished, harmful chemicals and pollutants—like lead and asbestos—are released in the air. In addition, when buildings such as old barns are burned, the old-growth wood is not only wasted, but it produces noxious smoke that’s harmful to human and environmental health.

Recently, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has been trying to educate the public about the growing issue of demolishing and burning buildings. The organization suggests that demolished building materials, such as concrete and wood, be turned over to specially permitted facilities for proper disposal.

Yet a better solution is gaining steam across the country: deconstruction and reuse. Many buildings, especially those built before 1978, contain harmful lead and asbestos. Deconstruction carefully removes all building materials for safe recycling and reuse–greatly reducing the amount of waste in the landfills and avoiding hazardous plumes of lead and asbestos that occur from typical demolition. In addition, deconstruction supports public health by reducing the additional greenhouse-gas emissions that come from adding to the landfill.

On average, construction and demolition materials account for a quarter of the waste in all landfills. In Minnesota, more than 80 percent of the 1.6 million tons of construction and demolition waste was landfilled in 2013. According to the EPA, for each ton of construction and demolition waste (2,000 pounds) that goes into a landfill, 2.79 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gases, including methane and CO2, are released into the atmosphere.

Through deconstruction with a specially trained crew, as much as 90 percent of of this waste can be recycled or reused, and sold below retail cost in places like Better Futures Minnesota’s ReUse Warehouse.

Additional tips for reusing building materials during a remodeling project can be found below!

From the Northeast Recycling Council: https://nerc.org/documents/building_materials_reus...

From House Logic:

https://www.houselogic.com/save-money-add-value/sa...

From Planet Reuse:

http://planetreuse.com/collections/projects/produc...

And from the ReUSE MN Pinterest page: https://www.pinterest.com/ReUSEmn/

 

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REUSE! Because You Can't Recycle The Planet

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, January 24, 2017
Updated: Thursday, May 30, 2019

 

This film isn't about our waste problem. It's about solutions. And they are everywhere!

Support ReUSE Minnesota by purchasing a copy of the movie. A portion of the proceeds of you movie purchase go to support ReUSE Minnesota when you use the following link:

http://reusedocumentary.vhx.tv?affiliate=reusemn

We live in a challenging time. Climate change and mass consumption is threatening our planet's existence. Excessive extraction of natural resources has created immeasurable waste and pollution. This issue is complicated and imminent. While recognition and awareness is important, direct action is by far the most effective. But traditional recycling is not enough. The reuse mission offers a more sustainable solution that everyone can be a part of. REUSE! Because You Can't Recycle The Planet follows Reuse Pro Alex Eaves' cross-country adventure to the 48 contiguous U.S. states. On his journey, he finds endless reuse solutions for our waste problem that are not only sustainable, but many of which are easy and fun! And he learns just how reuse truly benefits "people, planet, and wallet."Support ReUSE Minnesota by purchasing a copy of the movie. A portion of the proceeds of you movie purchase go to support ReUSE Minnesota!

 

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REUSE Minnesota Connects Businesses On The Western Side of the State

Posted By Administration, Friday, December 16, 2016
Updated: Friday, May 31, 2019

The goal of the meet up was to connect re-use and re-pair businesses around the state.

Reusing items can reduce pollution, reduce greenhouse gasses, and save energy and water.

Two businesses connected at Thursday's meeting.

"When they know someone's got something, they can direct it to the right thrift store outlet, so they can do a lot of cross promotion of their businesses," said Madalyn Cioci, MN Pollution Control Agency.

ReUse Minnesota does not have another meeting planned for the area.

Watch the video here:

http://www.wday.com/news/4181008-reuse-repair-busi...


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The Gift of Community By Todd Tanner, Board President

Posted By Administration, Friday, December 9, 2016
Updated: Friday, May 31, 2019

It’s the time of year for giving gifts and, no surprise, ReUSE Minnesota wholeheartedly supports and encourages handmade, upcycled, repurposed, and repaired gifts. Members of our Board recently attended the Green Gifts Fair at Midtown Global Market and were blown away by the number of local artisans who repurpose common items and turn them into something wonderful. We saw bowls made from vinyl records, jewelry derived from almost anything, candles made with old glasses, scrap fabric turned into new clothes, magnets made from bottle caps, and notebooks and journals fashioned from discarded metal. It’s hard not to be inspired by the creativity! At our table, we helped attendees turn old books and greeting cards into gift tags and small notebooks, people seemed to really enjoy the project, and we had a great time interacting with attendees at this bustling and energetic event.

Those same wonderful consumers also contributed to the health of our environment. How? Purchases at the Green Gifts Fair had a minimal carbon footprint because the items were made locally and the environmental impact of transportation was minimal. Also, many of the items were created from something that otherwise would have been trashed. For example, if someone bought an item made from discarded clothing, they helped avoid the 3-4 pounds of CO2 emissions that occur for every pound of clothing that hits a landfill. And finally, items made from previously used materials extends the useful life of those materials and avoids the additional impact of manufacturing something new.

As an organization working to raise awareness of the reuse, repair and rental business sector, it’s fantastic to know that so many in our community already share our goals of sustainable living and reducing waste. And, even though the Green Gifts Fair is over, many opportunities remain to purchase environmentally friendly presents, and to be inspired to see gift-giving in a new way and exploring ideas for creating your own gift items by re-purposing things you already have.

We encourage you to investigate member businesses that specialize in reuse gift items that might be perfect for someone on your shopping list including Junket, Mr Michaels Recycles Bicycles, U of M Reuse Center, A Greener Read, Tech Discounts, Better Futures, Arc's Value Village, Magers and Quinn and Strange Boutique.

We also want to take this opportunity to wish you a healthy, happy, and peaceful holiday season! Thanks for your past and future support of ReUSE MN!


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Our Board Members Madalyn Cioci and Della Simpson appeared on WCCO ahead of our October party.

Posted By Administration, Friday, December 9, 2016
Updated: Friday, May 31, 2019
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ReUSE Minnesota Launches Website

Posted By Administration, Thursday, October 13, 2016
Updated: Friday, May 31, 2019

Saint Paul, Minn. – On Wednesday night a few hundred people gathered at Lake Monster Brewing in Saint Paul to toast the completion of a three-year website project in support of Minnesota’s $10 billion reuse economy.

The new site at reusemn.org is an online resource for Minnesota consumers looking for secondhand goods or rental and repair services. It’s also a hub for businesses in these sectors.

The nonprofit trade organization ReUSE Minnesota led development of the website, which is the only one of its kind in the country.

“Minnesota is a national leader in its support of our reuse economy and the investment in this project is a great example that commitment,” notes ReUSE Minnesota Board President Todd Tanner.

The site was developed with a grant from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).

“Guiding people toward a mindset of reuse, rental or repair before buying something new is part of reducing waste overall,” says Madalyn Cioci of the MPCA. “We have to meet people where they are and make those choices convenient and that’s what the website does.”

Minneapolis web development firm Spyder Trap worked on the project, which involved a complex back end platform that could provide an easy experience for users.

“We needed to create a responsive site that could handle images and meet the needs of consumers and of large and small businesses across Minnesota,” says Ryan Beckman Director of Client Strategy for Spyder Trap.

In addition to serving as a business directory, the state-of-the art site allows businesses to become members of ReUSE Minnesota and enhance their listings with images and custom text.

The reuse economy in Minnesota spans a variety of businesses types, from local repair stores, to salvage yards, to thrift stores, to tech companies that sell refurbished IT equipment around the world.

“Our members are diverse and all work to derive the most values from resources,” says Tanner, “With the site up, we’re ready to increase our membership and continue to help the reuse economy grow in Minnesota.”


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