There has been a bit of a lull with active Zero Waste McMinnville volunteers as the hectic events season ended with the last Downtown Farmers’ Market. It gives us all a moment to catch our breaths and regroup. We don’t stop working towards our goal; in fact, the committee work gears up since each of us is not pulled in six different directions any given day.
So, part of what you are reading that that we are always working to get to that goal of 90% of trash diverted from the landfill by 2024.
But more importantly, part of what you are reading here is also a statement of fatigue: we are a small and mighty group but we really would be willing to have more of you join us in chasing the goal. That eases the tasks each one of us handles.
We’ve heard you: you appreciate what we’re doing even as some in town may not agree with all aspects of the decision making. Actually, agree with us or disagree, the best way to get yourself heard better is to join us. The next meeting will be Monday, November 5th at 5:30 in the Carnegie Room at the Public Library.
Right now there are several committees in active planning.
- Styrofoam collection: we know you want it. Styrofoam comes into our homes in several ways including the trays under the meat you purchase at the supermarket, many of the take-out containers used at restaurants, and of course, the packing materials in boxes that get mailed to you as well as appliances and furniture you purchase here in town. While we all get some Styrofoam, we support Recology’s decision not to have a curb-side collection. It costs them a lot to run pick-up service and in a situation like this, the household volume does not support that level of activity. We believe that establishing a collection area at the Depot would be a good solution. Similar to other items (like cardboard, textiles, books, glass, electronics and more), a collection container for Styrofoam will probably provide you an outlet without much bother. Unfortunately, Recology’s space is tight inside the Depot. For the Styrofoam to be viable to Agilyx (the company that can break it down into its components and then truly make it available for new/recycled Styrofoam to be manufactured), it needs to be protected from the weather. We are asking residents of McMinnville to sign a petition asking the City Council to add a stipulation to the contract with Recology to provide this service. As a way to demonstrate to Recology that the public wants this service, we are trying to set up a collection day, probably in January (after all those padded packages arrive as part of holiday shopping). Watch our website calendar as well as announcements on the Facebook page to participate.
- Composting collection: Currently you can use your Yard Waste trash bin to include uncooked fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, and a few other raw produce leavings. Do not include egg shells, as they take a bit longer to break down into the good nutritional calcium element and remaining pieces of shell flecks in the compost produced by Greenlands has caused some dissatisfaction. We encourage you to have a small compost pile in your own yard if you have space, as the nutrients that develop in the rich decayed material will feed your flower and food gardens. More items can be used in a home compost pile as seen in the photo. Zero Waste has been working towards implementation of a commercial pick up from restaurants, schools, the hospital and nursing homes. Once we implement a pilot program we can work out issues that might hamper curbside collection citywide, so it’s important we work it slowly and carefully. We could use some help on this committee, with tasks that would include or not include physical effort.
- By both volume (space used) and weight, debris from demolition and construction is the single largest category of trash going to the landfill. It is in the financial interest of anyone paying for trash pickup in McMinnville that we solve this problem! We appreciate Cellar Ridge Construction offering to help us explore our options here. This is a perfect example of a type of special expertise that is needed for this task. People with large scale experience knows not only the issues they themselves deal with, the solutions they have developed that may be viable on a larger scale, and the ability to know what the construction industry overall in areas interested in zero waste are doing to address this problem. We need not reinvent the wheel, so to speak, if another location already has developed a solution. If you have the time and knowledge to lend a hand with this problem, please let us know. When we have larger committees, each person’s time involvement lessens. We love our volunteers and do not want them to fatigue out of chasing the mission
- We are planning an Earth Day event that we have great hopes will excite you! We’ve posted in this blog as well as on Facebook numerous stories about places around the world where amazing useful items and artistic decor are made using items that would otherwise end up in the trash. We hope you will be excited to explore The McMinnville Recycled Arts Festival!! The committee has been working hard the last few weeks and we will be announcing the when/where/why/who/how information asap! This will be a juried event which means the artisans who will be participating will have to submit extensive information about their products for us to determine they meet our quality standards. All prices will be offered. This will not be an exclusive event but one where everyone living in the area will enjoy not only the creativity of the artists, but how the usefulness of many of the handcrafted items would fit your own needs.
- Another committee that is approaching the culmination of planning is the Merchant Awards group. We recognize that each of us probably needs to be more mindful of the materials in items we purchase and how we can best use them when we no longer need it. It’s easy for people to be reluctant about the changes they can make and Zero Waste McMinnville wants to recognize the amazing steps some people are taking to minimize their contribution to the landfill. Our first phase of this involves award to shopkeepers, restaurants, and other similar businesses who have met standards we have suggested for best practices.
- There are several more committees and working groups that help Zero Waste McMinnville develop an action plan for reaching the mission. One aspect is working with the youth in town. An active committee is introducing the Green Schools program in city schools. Last year Patton Middle School participated and were amazing creative and excited participants. Because of the help we provide at area events, we see that overall, the children of this city already are aware that they have a role in helping our environment be healthy. Kids often show their parents how to sort their trash, for example! Our intern Maddie is developing ideas of other ways to reach out to the school-age population here.
We are not a large group, but we are attracting more people to this way of thinking and many more are volunteering their energy, as they can. We do not abuse our volunteers. We encourage you to find the best fit…there are so many ways…..but not to overdo. Another way you can join our group is to consider a financial contribution. Our annual Sustaining Circle dinner is scheduled for Friday, November 16th and we would love for you to be there. This year we are excited to host the event at Youngberg Hill Winery