What a Journey

As the manager of the Zero Waste McMinnville Facebook page I see the issues that resonate with people.  I shared a story about a recycled arts festival about 18 months ago and there was some mild interest with maybe 20 likes. Four months later a similar story came to me and when I shared it again, the response was similar. Then a few months later I posted a third story and it went “viral” with over 100 likes.

So, after talking to a friend of mine who has been presenting her work at crafts and art fairs for years and hearing her response (“We should do this here!”) I popped over to a Facebook page for artists and artisans in the Northwest and posted a query. “We’re not planning this yet….I just want to know if any artists out there would participate if we did.”  Within a week I had the names of 60 artists.

So I decided my friend was right and together we got a small working committee together: Aundrea Harris, John “Sam” Houston, and my husband Graham and myself, Beth Rankin. We sat down the first time December 4th and started brainstorming ideas. We met almost weekly for at least 2 hours and each of us had lots of homework assignments.

One task that I took on was to identify more artists to issue direct invitations and not rely on posters and Facebook postings that we wanted artists to apply. In the course of a week, reading through numerous Facebook craft and art show pages and then on to Etsy searching for recycled arts and then on to Instagram, I identified another 90. We visited galleries in the area and got a lot of advice.

We set a response date and we formed a jury to review all the applications. The four of us on the planning committee were reading the applications as they came in, but the outside jury participant had no idea and came to the meeting with ideas of his own in case the work presented did not meet the quality we hoped for. He was blown away.

Participating as a jury member is interesting because you have to analyze  the work that it takes to produce something while suspending your own reaction to the art. That is one reason why there is a committee-to balance that “personal preference” factor.

The other reason the jury is made up of people from different artistic mediums is because the viewpoints of the general public has to be considered. However, as artists who sell to the public, we know there are  people who do not do that kind of work and thereby do not appreciate the effort to use creative ability and accumulated experience to produce the work. Many of us have heard “oh, I could make that” many times.  We also know few people actually take the time to learn and better that craft.  The artists who have built their craft into art are people whose work should be respected.

neckpiece Carla FoxMost people, we know, will be amazed at the offerings that the inaugural McMinnville Recycled Arts Festival will present. The concept of “trash to treasures” interests many, amuses some, but there are still people who are not convinced. For example, when I saw the neckpieces that Carla Fox will be offering, I knew the white one might appeal to a bride. I imagined a less expensive simple white sheath as a dress with this neckpiece as embellishment and believe some bride would feel gorgeous while keeping their dress budget more reasonable. So I contacted about eight wedding consultants. Seven never responded. One was offended I would think her clients would wear garbage. She obviously doesn’t understand and it was not worth the time to educate her with her anger so apparent. I had a festival to organize.

But you understand. You know that we can always increase our own personal sustainable practices. You appreciate learning of ways others reduce what goes to the landfill.

The community has responded in amazing ways. For example, I mentioned to one of the management at Recology that we wanted to put a street banner up over McMinnville’s NE 3rd Street, and he offered to pay for it. street banner bThat freed up money from our marketing budget and when I was contacted by That Oregon Life (in response to our press release) to see if they could help and I told them about Zero Waste McMinnville, they immediately reduced their fee for the services they would provide. Howie Harkema was happy to have us on his community access tv program, Speaking Frankly: and How We Doin?  . Then his camera person offered to come and take video. Other media have responded that they will come as well.

We can see the metrics of some of our advertising so we know we have reached a lot of people. We’re amused and excited by the number of people who have “purchased” free tickets on Eventbrite because we can see that Friday has a strong appeal to many.  When I started posting the artist spotlights on this blog and thereby on Facebook readership on both increased dramatically.  We know we have your attention. LOGO jpeg

My latest nightmare is that there was a traffic jam a la Field of Dreams……..bring it on!

The Choice Is Yours….

By Lovetta Dill

About a year ago a friend and I were talking about stuff we couldn’t do anything about, and “wasn’t it a shame”.  She mentioned that she had become involved with an organization called Zero Waste. I had applauded their efforts at events like Turkey Rama and the UFO Festival but knew little about them. In fact, I had always assumed they were part of Recology,  like many people in town.  I never gave it more than an idle observational ‘Hmmm…’   I soon learned this was an independent group of people who just want to do the right thing as my friend explained the group was separate from Recology and suggested I stop at the booth at the Thursday Downtown Farmers’ Market and offer a couple of volunteer hours.

I’ve been recycling, repurposing, and stretching resources for decades (since way back when it was only us fringe nuts that did). But it was always just something I did because doing the next right thing made me feel good. And this seemed like the next right thing.

But commitment is scary, and I’m not a joiner.Image result for commitment is a scary thing

So I put my cynical hopelessness about making a difference and my social anxiety in the back pocket of my jeans and went to check it out.

Volunteering for the market and for special events was easy. It was only a few hours. I determined my schedule. I was enthusiastically taught the parts I didn’t already know and then  I had the opportunity to talk about refuse resource recovery and saving the planet one milk jug at a time, and it left me feeling good.

Image result for volunteering feels good

Source: Thrive Global

It was a personal accomplishment to be able to help individuals sort through the frustrations of the ever-changing landscape of recycling and occasionally see an idea light up their eyes as they figured out how to solve some system challenge in their own home, or discovered that there really is a way to recycle that pesky thing that you hate yourself for using but just can’t do without.  Sometimes it was just an opportunity to share feelings of helplessness and fear about this world which has been so kind to us.

I have risen to a whole new level of conversational competence about things I, as an individual, can do nothing about. I realize some would say I have become a certified fringe nut but I recognize when in a group of like-minded people, it is normalized.

I have come to deeply appreciate the difference a group of dedicated people (not just fringe nuts) can make when they focus on a common goal.

These small accomplishments spurred me to seek out further opportunities to make a contribution. The first actual Zero Waste meeting I attended at the Carnegie Room at the city library was intimidating. Nobody went particularly out of the way to put me at ease. I was, in fact, a little put off by their failure to recognize my genius, and ask how they could best help me to showcase my superior talents.  In other words, they treated me as if I were a person among other persons with a sense of shared purpose and I told myself to get over it. Join in. Add to the effort.grannephew

The Green Schools Committee wanted participants. That seemed like a good fit for me. I have always tried to involve whatever children are around in the specifics of living a lifestyle which leaves a lighter footprint.  So I just said, ‘I will do that.’ What needed to be done revealed itself organically as we went along in the group. At this point we are actively assisting several local schools in developing sustainable systems in their schools with the help of student Green Teams. And there will be more to come. By empowering the upcoming generation it is our hope they will be better prepared to live realistic synchrony with the environment.

It took a while, and some personal growth on my part, but eventually I came to understand that I do have some skills which can help me be useful in a community of other individuals with particular skills of their own, and that in pooling those unique capabilities we become much more than the sum of us as parts of a whole. O. Synergy.

Image result for synergy
Source: Thrive Business Marketing

I seem to have become a joiner, after all, and it is helping me to be a more productive member of the human race. Will I change the world? Meh. Can I/we make a difference? Most certainly.

              In any case, doing the next right thing, because it’s the next right thing,           always makes me feel good.

meeting announcement

 

 

Artist Spotlight: McMinnville Montessori Elementary Students

A funny thing happened on the way to this festival. Early in the planning process the committee discussed ways to get the youth of McMinnville involved. We very much understand that as much as the adults make the changes that are needed to help the earth, our children and grandchildren are the ones who will be living with the effects of the past 100 years of industrialization. So, we wanted to set up an art exhibit to help get them thinking and learning.

We contacted the art department at Linfield and the art department at Huntington High School and yes, there will be some students exhibiting at the Festival.  We never planned on elementary school age kids getting involved, but Montessori jumped in fully!  We first planned an art exhibit, but Kate Massey, a Guide in the Primary program explained that the children’s enthusiasm and creativity took over the classroom for the last 6 weeks and they have been focusing on making things to sell from reclaimed “trash”.

 

The Montessori sales will only be offered on Saturday (sorry, kids, Friday is a school day…..) and we hope you will enjoy their offerings. While not at the level of expertise as our adult artists, they heave learned some basic fundamentals of jewelry making and have quite a few items that people will enjoy at very reasonable prices.0306191218 - Katie Massey

Kate Massey and the Montessori elementary students will be at Table #8.

 

Lifeblood

Volunteers are the lifeblood of the Zero Waste McMinnville organization.  Without people willing to give their time and energy, the issues that feel so important to us  would not get accomplished.

During the spring, summer and fall, we have “event season”.  Starting this past weekend with Farm Fest at the Heritage Center, Zero Waste McMinnville will have a presence at just about every event in McMinnville through September!FarmFest sorting  FB_IMG

 

When the organization was formed over five years ago, the concept of reaching out to the public at events like UFO Celebration and Turkeyrama was at first confusing. Who wants to learn about trash when they come to a downtown event for fun? IMG_3237

Well, it seems like almost everyone.! We still respect our local curmudgeon’s right to stamp his feet and grumble but we do admit we think he is silly. Whether you understand the causes of global warming or not, there still are many things you can personally do to help the earth be healthy. IMG_3238

During the festivals most of our our volunteers help by standing or sitting near the bins and teaching visitors to sort their trash into “recycle”, “compost”, and “landfill”. Since different trash haulers in different cities have different rules, there is plenty of confusion and it is an easy 10-second exchange of info that helps garbage end up in the right bin.compost bin explanation

Unsure you have the McMinnville system understood well enough to avoid loading bins wrong? Well, a very short training session Monday, May 6  from 5:30-7 at the Carnegie Room of the Mac Library will help!volunteer FarmFest 2018

There are other tasks at the festivals as well, and of course, our ongoing committees also need volunteers.

If you have 3 hours – or more-  to give to the community, please join us for the training!

Any questions? Email Patriciafaye Marshall for more information.

 

Recycling Issues Lead to a New Step: REFUSING

When I volunteer at events like the UFO Festival or the downtown farmers’ market I try to chat with people who come over to what I call the “3-holer”, the sort station for recycling, composting and landfill. Some people avoid eye contact and toss whatever into wherever and scurry away……they do not want to really learn, so we use our little grabbers and move their trash into the correct bin.IMG_2155

But here in McMinnville, those kind of people are becoming fewer and fewer and everyone seems to be catching on. Sorting trash is really not rocket science….we each can learn it.  Persuasion techniques are needed for some more than for others, eh?

And some people are quite proud of how many years they have been recycling, even before it became so commonplace. Image result for proud recycler

But you know what? We do pretty well  here in Mac because our waste hauler, Recology, considers itself a recycling company, not a landfill company, so their business decisions are more sustainable. However, even at the rate we are successfully recycling at this time, all of us are  still losing ground over all.

While Recology has not measured what percentage of our total Image result for trucks dumping at landfilltrash is recyclable plastics,  a statewide study was done to estimate what our trash includes. In 2012 the trash we all handed over to all our waste haulers included this info: out of all the trash counted, almost 12% of it was plastic and only 3% of that was considered to be recyclable.  And most haulers are now carrying recyclables to their landfill.  Recology’s request for a rate hike late last year reflected their effort to store our recyclables until they can successfully identify end users.

So, while we all still need to sort our trash and continue to submit recyclables to Recology, we need to shift a bit.  I want to really start talking about REFUSING  as a way to live more sustainably.  Refusing is the act of saying NO to a product, even one you may be very much used to enjoying, because its packaging is wasteful.

As presented by the Earth Month Network suggests the 10-Rs of Sustainability include

REFUSE:  Reject the idea of utilizing anything that may cause harm to oneself, someone else or our delicate ecosystem.  Refuse to use food items and products that are falsely represented and not certified correctly. Refuse to do what is wrong.

One example that we’ve had to consider in our household relates to coconut oil. Over the past few years studies have shown that it is not the wonderfully “good for you” fat that we were told. Suggestions are being made to convert to palm oil. WHAT????? No way! The issue of where palm oil is in the healthy body scheme of things is not even up for discussion with me because I do know harvesting this product has caused deforestation of huge rain forest acreage and habitat of endangered species such as the orangutan, Borneo elephant and Sumatran tiger. For that reason alone I will chose as an informed consumer and responsible inhabitant of Planet Earth  to stop buying prepared cookies and crackers and other packaged foods that use palm oil. I have to be willing to take the time to read labels and then change my habits. (And if I want a cookie, bake it myself!)

Image result for rejection
source: The Business Journals

What about you? This is a bit harder (but higher in sustainable living) than what I am suggesting if you prefer to take smaller steps to changing old patterns.

Image result for store brand pasta  packaging
source: Dakota Growers

For an easier step that can add up to have a large impact, look at the packaging of what you buy.  If, for example, you purchase boxed pasta that is the lowest price, usually labeled as a store brand, you will be pleased to know you can save even more money if you bring a reusable bag (you have those already, right?) and buy from the bulk bins.  Now, some epicurean experts may have special preferences for a specific brand, but I easily imagine that most of our palates can’t really tell the difference between a premium Italian import and typical dried pasta offerings here. By purchasing from the bulk bin you are REFUSING the cardboard and plastic in the boxed version.  One step further would be to write to the food processor and tell them why you will no longer buy their brand.

 

If each of us begins to take a few minutes a year to communicate with the people who make the packaging choices, the message will be received loudly and clearly.  And they will make changes. And that will help us reduce, which is the end goal.

The Styrofoam Dilemma

Yeah McMinnville!!! We have worked out an arrangement with Recology to gather our Styrofoam pieces and bring them to Agilyx in Tigard for their processing. We are truly fortunate that not only do we have a polystyrene recycler within an hour of where we live, but our trash hauler WANTS to do the right thing and find recycling solutions wherever possible.  Image result for agilyx

So, a bit over a month ago on December 26 the collection process started at the Recology Recovery Zone at 2200 NE Orchard Avenue. Monday through Saturday from 8am – 5 pm there is a Recology worker available to collect your Styrofoam. Residents of McMinnville (city) can drop 1 cubic yard for free daily.  People living outside the city limits who are Recology customers can also drop off Styrofoam but there is a small charge. IMG_3595

The initial phase includes Styrofoam blocks and other larger pieces. In time, smaller pieces like Styrofoam clamshells will be included as well as other polystyrene that is commonly used, like the red Solo cups and other #6 plastics.  Also in time, once the whole process has worked out the inevitable kinks that any new project has, attention will turn to the large Styrofoam disposal locations. These are the large stores that sell appliances and furniture, all of which come in protectively packaged and wrapped.  The Information meeting Monday, February 4 5:30 at the Carnegie Room of the Mac Public Library will provide more information.

This is EXCELLENT!!!   So, why is this a dilemma?

Well, we know just about everyone is ecstatic about this new service and we are too. Do not misunderstand me, please!

The dilemma comes down to this: while Styrofoam is large and does not naturally break down and takes up a lot of space in landfills, it is not heavy, so the impact that removing it from the landfill is not as large as it feels.

We need to do more and guess what? We’re working on it.

A dedicated small group of volunteers, including the people at Cellar Ridge Construction have begun to develop solutions to the problems caused by construction and demolition debris.

Many have us have enjoyed watching those home improvement shows where demolition  typically involves a large sledgehammer and a dumpster.  No doubt about it, smashing down a wall can be cathartic to the psyche, but the debris ends up hogging a lot of space in the landfill and weighs a lot!

Cellar RidgeSo, Cellar Ridge, who has been using sustainable practices wherever possible,  will help us address the cost savings that a slower, methodical approach to removing usable components and permitting re-use can provide. Imagine not having to pay for so many truckloads going to the landfill. This is a win for the contractor!!

And there is another component to the dilemma: we need more people to help work this out. We are especially looking for those people with the experience of working with materials like this, but anyone who enjoys a good research project can help.

(By the way, we almost always need more people to help……..and event season is coming soon. You will hear about volunteer opportunities starting soon.)

McMinnville Recycled Arts Festival

We all enjoy a good fair, one with a lot of interesting and well made products for sale. Some may be art, some may be usable things to wear or use. I love going to those kinds of markets because the ideas are amazing, the artists work enviable, and there’s always a sense of fun and theater……it’s a place to have a good time.

Time to mark your calendar: Friday April 26 and Saturday April 27 will be the dates of the inaugural event. A star studded event with amazing things to brighten your life.

And all from trash.

I am fortunate that my life has artists in it. Creative people who have skills with paint or fabric or beads or you name it, skills that are beyond my ken but boy oh boy can I appreciate the time and effort. Now, you can too. Over forty artists and creative people will be inside the Linfield Nicholson Library from 10-4 both days.nicholson library

Fabric artists who use worn out discarded cloth. Metal artists who grab up the discarded bolts and screws and other small pieces of hardware. Jewelers who use a variety of materials including stones, shells, metal, cloth, and more to provide bling in our lives. You will find some people who work with wood-pieces found in the woods or on the scrap pile in a wood using industry.

Could you personally make some of these things? Possibly….but you know your ability and you know your life demands……will you? Probably not……so enjoy this event and take something special home!

I’m excited because I’m been on the planning committee for the past four months and I can see where all our effort is leading: to a new annual McMinnville event that will become a regional favorite.

We tried to tie the arts festival to Earth Day, but it falls on Easter Sunday this year and no matter how much you may or may not be a church goer, we postponed it one week so there are no conflicts for anyone. Earth Day really is not just one day of the year. The celebration reminds you to be a good steward all the time. Coming to the Recycled Arts Festival will be an excellent way to show your recognition of how to keep the earth healthy.

The committee made an early effort to review posts on Facebook, Etsy, Instagram and other social media platforms to identify artists and artisans who carefully use discards from other people to fashion their products.

Now it is time to invite them as well as an open call to others who missed. Please continue reading to understand the requirements and get those applications sent in!!

For the rest of you, see you on the 26th and 27th of April!!!

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We are happy you decided to apply to join our festival. This is the inaugural event and we have put a lot of effort into planning it as carefully as possible because we want to see this succeed and become as appreciated as other similar events in the region.  We ask that you read this thoroughly, ask us any questions, but above all, understand that the success of this event also depends on you. We need your cooperation, so read on and let us know if you are willing to fully participate.

 How to Qualify as a Vendor:

  1. While the name of the event is the Recycled Arts Festival, in reality the items that comprise at least 65% of your items must be used items or cast-off trash, typically on its eventual way to the landfill. We call what you do upcycling or repurposing. If your art uses natural items, without your use, those items would have naturally decayed. 
  2. All items must be handmade. There will be no MLM marketing nor resales of other makers’ work.
  3. You may share a table or booth space but each vendor must apply and be juried in. Both applications must have a note with the request to share and the name of the other vendor.
  4. Send at last 5 electronic photos that clearly show your work and its quality. Not only will these photos be used to jury you into the festival, but they will be used in festival marketing. You already agreed to permit use of these materials for marketing purposes when you submitted them with your jury application.
  5. Once you have been contacted that your work is acceptable to the jury, send your fee via Paypal to reserve a table. No table space is reserved without payment. If funds are not received by March 21, it will be assumed that you are no longer available to attend the event and another vendor will be offered your space.

 Prior to the Event:

  1. Both of our main sponsors, Zero Waste McMinnville and the Linfield College Sustainability Office, rely on education to teach people about the world of recycling and how upcycling, sustainable use and re-use relates to it. We need your help with educating the people who come to the festival. To this regard we ask that you:  
  2. Use only sustainable items to package your sales.
  3. Provide your story to the public – why do you use the materials you use? You can use a poster or brochure or be ready to talk a lot. Your application should have some indication of your philosophy which we will use in marketing materials for the event.
  4. You must must must help with marketing. We ask that you not only add to the Festival webpage and Facebook pages but also on your own Facebook page and website. We ask that you email out the poster we will share with you to your friends and family. We would like you to be personally responsible for at least 10 people through that door. And if anyone has a connection to a news outlet, let us know.
  1. Your ability to request a certain space will depend on the timeliness of your application. We are offering a 10% discount in the booth fee for the first ten vendors who complete their registration. We are closing the application process on March 1st with notification to all vendors about acceptance by March 15th
    1. If you apply after all spaces have been reserved, do you want to be put on a waiting list in case we get cancellations?
    2. We have 22 spots that are 10×10. Since the event is inside the library we ask you do not use a canopy unless it is mandatory for your display. We request the awning be removed or white in color to help keep the ambiance of open and airy in the space. SOME of these booth spaces will have electricity available. Let us know if it is needed.
    3. We have 12 spots that are 5×6 tables set up for studying. There are several lights in place on those tables that cannot be moved so you will need to position your things around them, but you also benefit with the added lighting. There are electrical outlets on these tables.
    4. We have 6 spots that are 5×8 tables set up for studying, Also, there are lights in place that cannot be moved, and electrical outlets available.
    5. There are 4 spaces that are on top of the newspaper racks. They are 48 inches high. These are 5×6 and have no power and no seating. You will need to bring a stool or stand.
  2. We know life happens and sometimes the best plans don’t work out. Cancellations before April 1st will be refunded minus the initial $10 jury fee. If you cancel after April 1st you will not get a refund (minus the initial $10 jury fee) unless we are able to fill your space with another vendor. Your refund will be made after the festival dates.
  3. Adult vendors are age 18 and up. We are offering a small amount of display space for youths under 18. In addition, we will make a few tables available on Saturday only as there are minors with growing art skills. It is also mandatory that all minors are accompanied by a parent and attend the entire time the festival is open. That includes set up prior to the 10am start and clean up after the 4pm public close.
  4. The jury fee is not refundable.

During the Event:

  1. Set up begins at 8am on Friday. All vendors must be ready when the public can enter at 10am. We are hoping to have some volunteers to help with your set-up if needed, but please have all the wheeled carts you typically use to haul your items from the parking lot, which is adjacent to the library. We will require you to move to the rear of the lot away from the front door after you off-load in order to allow easy access for the shoppers.
  2. Artist is responsible to supply all 10×10 booth equipment; displays, additional lighting, special tables, cloths, chairs, etc. Booths must be self-contained. We cannot use existing walls for display or support of exhibition. Artists who opt for table space should not bring any other table. Chairs are available.  No flashing flights are permitted.
  3. We urge everyone to be respectful of the library space and want to minimize our potential impact on the setting, including the floor, the furniture and of course the books. Please be very careful when eating in your booth space. Make sure all drinking containers have lids to minimize splash or spills.
  4. We will contact you a week before the festival to see if you want to pre-order lunch. Third Street Pizza will deliver food. We will limit the menu to one or two kinds of pizza and a salad. You may bring your own lunch if you want. There is some food close by off-campus but that will require you to lose at least 30 minutes.
  5. If you bring items to the event for sale that do not quality as at least 65% repurposed/upcycled/recycled you will be asked to remove those items from the sale.
  6. If you have any issues or concerns during the event come to the Festival Information Table which will be in the center of the room near the newspaper stacks.
  7. You can leave your display as is when the festival ends at 4pm Friday. The building will be closing and will not reopen until Saturday morning.
  8. Please be in place at your booth by 8:30 on Saturday. Remember to park your cars at the back of the parking lot.
  9. No packing up before Saturday 4pm. We must be out of the library by 5pm but there should be no problem with that. Again, we hope to have some volunteers to help you.
  10. After the festival we will email you the evaluation form. This will include areas where we need to improve for the next year, things we did right, and an indication of your income so next year we can inform potential vendors how we did this year. This will be unidentified and typically in a range (i.e. vendors earned between $250-$1200, with an average of $500.) People who do not submit a completed evaluation form will not be permitted in subsequent events.

To apply to the McMinnville Recycled Arts Festival, click on this link

Join us!!  qr code recycled_arts_festival

 

 

Styrofoam Project Success!

The pride and excitement radiating off Annely Germaine today was easily felt when I stood next to her this morning. A couple of years ago at a discussion of issues that needed attention she raised “What about Styrofoam?” and today collection of polystyrene started in McMinnville!ZWM volunteers

There are many players who worked with Annely to get to this moment. First, her committee members who met often and made road trips to discover what was being done elsewhere.   Then they spent hours analyzing how to piece together possible solutions at the lowest cost to city residents and the commercial recyclers.

Next was the City Council members who understood that Recology’s request for a rate hike was a golden opportunity to add this service.

Finally, the people at Recology themselves, who knew how to take the broad concept brainstormed by Zero Waste McMinnville and develop a system for implementation. IMG_3601.jpg

And today, a week before the rate hike goes into effect, the collection of Styrofoam blocks started because….well, Christmas purchasing usually includes a lot of Styrofoam and the public was eagerly awaiting the opportunity to clear the piles that had collected.

Gates opened at 8am and the cars and trucks started arriving. Some with a considerable amount, IMG_3597some just a few pieces. IMG_3595

Bins had been set up to identify how much was coming into Recology from McMinnville residents and from other areas outside of Mac. The bins started filling rapidly as more people came out after 10am when Zero Waste McMinnville offered free teeshirts to people. full bin

Recology requests people to limit their drop off to one square yard per day, but also know that the pent up demand may result in higher levels of contribution for a short time, and then amounts will drop and get to a slow and steady residential rate.

They plan to deliver the Styrofoam that is collected at the McMinnville Depot to Agilyx in Tigard several times a week. As the system gets established and runs smoothly, Recology will permit other types of #6 polystyrene to be recycled. And then, they will expand to commercial users who really are the ones who have the huge amount that need to be moved from the landfill waste stream into recycling.

So, in this process we have a few things that have become more clear to those of us not living solid waste disposal every day:

  1. When implementing a new service it will usually work smoother if slow and steady is the chosen system. We know households are bothered with this kind of trash and starting small with one kind helps work out system kinks before more kinds of the trash can be included and before the heavy players are involved.
  2. Zero Waste McMinnville is not and has never been a part of the Recology business. We may stick our collective noses into their business, but we are partners in crime so to speak. We have common goals and work together well to achieve those goals. Being a grassroots movement permits us to aim higher and farther than Recology may plan, simply because we are not initially concerned with the financial and environmental limitations to everything we want to see happen. With our ability to dream, and Recology’s pragmatic nature continually being teased by Zero Waste McMinnville, the residents of this city can look forward to other new recycling/composting/trash removal programs in the future.

Recycling is NOT the “Best” Answer

I’m so proud to live in a city that is making great efforts to reduce its trash; to teach and learn about recycling and composting and all that. But we still have a big problem, folks,  and it will take more than McMinnville to solve it. However, McMinnville people have to be part of it as well.

The desire for status quo is so strong. People really hate to change habits and that includes corporate America as much or even more than each person who fights issues like a single use bag ban. We Americans have a love affair with oil and plastic.  Too many people can’t see what other options can work as well and major manufacturers know what they know and most of the time, want to just continue business as usual.

Corporations know that to modify their system will cost money. A change not only means identifying a more sustainable solution that provides similar safety and product preservation, but retooling assembly lines for those new items. That costs money and they like to EARN money, not spend it.

As long as we consumers are quiet and don’t complain, things will stay the same. This issue, like much else in our society, has to be driven from the grassroots.

When we understand that our fish and shellfish now has microplastics in it (yes, you are eating plastic…and it is IN YOU), when we read that even the deepest part of the Pacific Ocean, the Marianas Trench, has plastic in it, the time is past when we should act. So, let’s get going!

Let’s start with identifying major players in the plastic pollution world. When people do massive clean-ups along beaches around the world, many inventories are done to identify just what is ending up in the ocean. (This blog is not about addressing the problems of waste management and how trash ends up in the sea. Personal and societal behaviors are a whole other blog subject!)

In a recent inventory of a massive beach clean-up in the Pacific, it became clear that certain brands are packaging their food products in plastic that are showing up in humongous amounts.

plastic pollution survey
source: Eco-Business

It is time for us to tell them to find substitutes. It is time to stop buying those plastic containers and tell them we will go back to their product when they become more sustainable.

Now, some of these corporations have made some changes and a few others have some packaging that is not plastic.  McDonald’s, for example, has posted their goals to be implemented by 2030 (WHAT????? 11 years away??? WHY so long?) to become a more sustainable food service company.  Most of these deal with sourcing their food from more sustainable farming practices. This year they revamped their packaging, getting away from Styrofoam and also not handing out plastic straws unless requested.  Since McDonald’s is global, environmental advocates hope that they will set an example that will be followed by others.

Meanwhile, you have the top users of plastic (Coca-Cola, Pepsico and Nestle) saying they will source all their bottles with recycled plastic by 2025. The problem with sounding green like this is few people realize that less than 10% of all plastic used in the world is actually recycled. That means our appetite for plastic requires more and more NEW plastic to be manufactured.

Image result for plastic trash in ocean
source: Eco-Business

When we hear that as a nation, the US is no longer dependent on oil from the Middle East, it boggles my mind (perhaps yours also) that our pristine wilderness areas in the West and Alaska are now being sold for mineral rights, including drilling for more oil.  The environmental costs will be horrendous as damage is caused that will not be able to be repaired.  The loss of pristine ecosystems, the destruction of habitat, is probably the last thing on the mind of people who seek the next corporate profit.Image result for oil exploration in alaska

But we, the consumers, are what drives profit. We can affect that NOW. If you buy soda, buy it in glass bottles. In fact, look for glass for packaging where many plastics are now used.  Check out GoodGuide to learn how over 75,000 products meet or fail environmental and health standards. Use your buying power to help drive corporations to make healthier decisions for your body and the planet.  Please.

source: Gunther Report

Styrofoam Collection Starts December 26, 2018

After two years of working on this issue, Annely Germane is celebrating! Amd she deserves her time of pride and we all can celebrate!  You can too! Starting December 26th Recology will be accepting Styrofoam at the Depot. Open hours run 8am – 5pm, 6 days a week.

Recology will have an employee there to help monitor as only acceptable items will be taken. We want this to work and it’s a learning curve for all of us.  Please be patient and know that the program will be expanding.

First, the collection area will NOT be inside the Depot Building. Go into that parking lot, but turn left and drive past the building and through the yellow gate.  There you will be directed to the right location.

Second, there is a one-cubic-yard daily limit per person. This is about the maximum amount allowed.

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This is too much!!! Don’t bring this amount all at once please. too much

Finally, for this first phase, only some  Styrofoam blocks of that rigid stuff you receive in boxes to protect the contents will be accepted. Recology will be adding more items as they work out any kinks in the collection process. We will share this information as quickly as possible.

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Zero Waste McMinnville volunteers will be on hand on December 26th to help direct people to the collection area which is just past the depot. Go through the yellow gates and join the party!!!