Artist Spotlight: Beth Rankin and Can-Do Real Food

Beth Rankin grew up in the paved part of the Garden State so she is amused she has ended up working with farmers. After getting involved with the farm-to-table movement in West Virginia by helping establish a year-round indoor local food market, Beth started connecting with various organizations that work with Willamette Valley farmers. It was while working on an organic farm a few summers ago that the fact of food waste became painfully apparent. At all farms, a lot of edible food is put into compost piles or fed to animals because of their imperfections, but they have the same nutritional content as the ones that are shaped right. Beth says, “I really respect the work that our farmers do, so my way, beside buying as much local food as possible for our own table, is to help by preserving that surplus produce and offering shelf-safe food to people to enjoy year round.”

loaded pasta sauce

No photo description available.Can-Do Real Food started out with canning fruits into jams and vegetables into sauces. We make an amazing Loaded Pasta Sauce that not only tastes fresh, like it was just harvested, but is full of other produce (those funny shaped carrots are shredded and so are the watermelon-sized zucchinis.) All add nutritional value and the fussy eaters will never know.

Jams and jellies tend to unusual recipes; Beth feels you can buy simple jams anywhere, but offers special recipes like the “naughty” line, each jar with a tablespoon of some locally made liquor or have personality from some other ingredient. Image may contain: food

Recently, Can-Do Real Food has branched into more dehydrated products, aiming for very easy to prepare meal mixes and supplements that people who  camp and backpack will appreciate.  These foods are designed to be ready to eat with just some water and minimal cooking and will be perfect in any household for a quick meal or when the power goes out and you can use your grill to boil up some water. Image may contain: food

Is this art?   No. But it is creative, no question about it. And reducing waste, including food waste, is a major component of a sustainable world.Market offerings

Beth Rankin is one of the organizers of this festival and You can find her and Can-Do Real Food at Table #27 where you can taste the food before buying.

What’s Happening?

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 

Corena Can and So Can YOU!

By Corena Killian

I am one of those people who, with good intentions and research, will embark on a project only to have it turn out crappy. I am not artsy. I am not creative. I have a hard time keeping green things alive (case in point, my aloe vera plant – one of the easiest house plants to grow and maintain – is dying). So you could have knocked me over with a feather when we went out and dug through our compost pile and found that we had managed to produce, with very little effort or attention at all, a substantial amount of beautiful, glorious, micro-nutrient rich, free-to-us, actual, honest-to-goodness, 100% household-generated compost!!! It may well be the most satisfying personal project I have ever accomplished!Image may contain: plant, outdoor and nature

Satisfying because we used our own food scraps, lawn clippings, fallen leaves, unused cardboard boxes, and kitty litter (we use all-natural pine pellets which break down to sawdust rather than clay; and we scoop and flush the 💩, because that’s not compostable). We supplemented it with llama 💩and straw from a friend. And that is basically it. At times, we had a heaping pile of plant material. But through the fall and winter, that all broke down as we continued to add our veggie and fruit scraps, stale bread, egg shells, spent bones and veggies from multiple batches of chicken stock (great for adding calcium minerals to compost), etc.Image may contain: plant and outdoor

Satisfying because we diverted almost all of our household food waste away from the landfill. Did you know that nearly 25% of landfill material is food waste?!? And that food waste in landfills generates methane – a greenhouse gas 23x more potent than carbon dioxide? And that landfills account for 34% of all methane emissions is the US? This is why I’m doing everything I can to keep my food waste in my own back yard where I can use it to make the planet healthier, not to mention that it will hopefully serve to make our family healthier too with all of the amazing veggies we hope to grow with it!

We’ve already gotten “volunteers“ growing in the compost. Potatoes for sure. But other things too! Garlic, and something from the pumpkin/squash and/or cucumber family – it’s a little too soon to tell, so we’re guessing based on the appearance of the sprouts and the seed shells they sprouted from.

I surprised myself with my absolute giddyness over the phenomenal number of worms thriving in our compost. That is a sure sign that it is healthy and full of micronutrients.

This compost project has left me feeling very empowered! I hope to be sharing with you in a few months how successful our garden is as a result of this effort. Fingers crossed! 🤞

Part of the Community

A small city, like McMinnville, offers its residents a chance to get lost, as it is large enough. It also offers a chance to be part of something, as there are multiple events and activities.

I urge you to join, to be a part of this community. It is a tremendous feeling to be part of an activity from the “inside” or “backstage” crew.

For example, in only a few weeks McMinnville will be rolicking with its annual UFO Festival. As much as I generally try to avoid crowds, this is one event I love to attend. I put on something a bit weird and feel that I can let my inner child out to roam for one afternoon.  DSC_0008

My practical side volunteers with Zero Waste McMinnville. I go early to volunteer, thereby grabbing a parking space pretty close to the action.  The work always stops for the parade, so there is nothing lost in volunteering. What you gain is being an active participant in reducing the amount of trash that goes to the landfill.

At the UFO Festival, at the weekly farmers’ markets, at TurkeyRama and at several more public events that attract residents as well as visitors, there are several kinds of tasks that need volunteers. farmers market as

If you are a people person, we need you to help stand or sit by one of the collection station as a Station Host. This is the place where people (learn to) sort their garbage into “recyclable”, “compostable” or “landfill”. There is a bucket for liquids left in drink containers, and another container for cans and bottles. Most of the time, people appreciate the help learning, especially now that Recology had to adjust what can be taken for recycling.  There are, however, always a few people who just get glee out of purposely doing it wrong. You learn to ignore them.

Two other tasks may be for you if you don’t want to interact with people much.  One is the Runner, who uses a 2-wheel dolly and collects the trash bags and brings them back to the sorting station.

The Sorters, wearing gloves and aprons, actually open all the trash bags and then “super sort”, clearly making sure the right trash goes into the right category. Everything is weighed in order to check how the event is doing each year.

Volunteer shifts are generally 3 hours long and some events need 4 people (Farmers’ Market) and some, like the UFO Festival, TurkeyRama and the Highland Games need over 50 people!

  • If you sit at home feeling blue because you don’t know anyone, join us.
  • If you enjoy doing things with your friends, join us.
  • If you want to go to the event, join us.
  • If you have never been to the event, join us.
  • And, for the Highland Games, if you want to go but don’t want to pay admission, join us.

To join in the fun go to the EVENT SIGN-UP page. The volunteer coordinator will contact you and answer your questions.

The Magic of Second Life

Nope, not talking religion or anything spiritual here. I’m talking about RE-USE.

Re-use is finding another way to use something that no longer serves its original purpose in your life. In our casual life, not caring about how we affect the environment, we might tend to just “throw away” the unneeded item.

But the enlightened individual (okay, maybe there is something involved here that has to come from your heart and core) understands that there is no “away” when we no long want something.

What to do? re-use

Zero Waste McMinnville is going to offer an opportunity for 20 people or groups of people. At our Compostpalooza event on Saturday, June 16th, we will be holding a Second Life Flea Market. For a rental fee of $20, you may set up a table and sell items that are in clean/good/usable condition that you no longer need. You may charge what you want, but you must take any items that do not sell out with you when you leave.

Compostpalooza will be held at the Grange (1700 SW Old Sheridan Rd, McMinnville, OR) with the Second Life Flea Market located inside the lower level. The farmers’ market is located outside at that time of year so there will be lots of people coming to the Grange for the market as well as the Compostpalooza event.

There will be a table and 2 chairs available for each person who wants to grab this opportunity.  Time of the market is 10-2 so set up will start at 9am.

If you are interested in participating, contact me to reserve a spot. Second Life flea market poster

Composting 101: Take One

One cup. Instead of 13 gallons.

At the time the concept of recycling was not common. So, I did not change my ways then. But over time, I started to be more aware of my contribution to the care and loving of Planet Earth and slowly started sorting.

Before moving to McMinnville the city where I lived in West Virginia offered a recycling curbside pickup for a fee. There were several issues, though. One was the container was pretty small. The other was that the service was intermittent and finally ended. There were some collection containers in the city, but we got out of the habit again.

We had, however, started composting. We had a small garden in our back yard and saw how quickly our kitchen produce waste could become green manure for our future food plot.  We continued composting when we moved to McMinnville, building a larger collection area in our backyard.

Our plastic container on the kitchen counter has recently been replaced by a designed compost bin. It has a filter and is easy to clean. With the lid kept in place there is no odor nor any enticement for fruit flies to gather.

So, when I am fixing dinner and cutting up the veggies for the salad or for cooking, the ends I don’t use get tossed into the compost bucket. I also put egg shells in it when I bake and the coffee grounds when I make a fresh pot. When the bucket gets filled, a short walk to the compost pile in the back yard is all it takes.

However, not everyone wants a pile of decaying vegetable matter in their yard, especially if they don’t garden and recognize the benefit of the feeding the nutrients back into the soil. Good News!!!  In the movement to becoming an outstanding example of a Zero Waste city, McMinnville will start having curbside pickup for yard waste and uncooked vegetable matter.yard-waste

You must sign up for the service, which is included in your trash and recycling service fee. Go to the Recology Website (http://recologywesternoregon.com.pages.services/opt-in) to reserve your bins.

Glass pick up is also available so sign up for that as well, especially if you drink as much wine as we do.  We’ll talk more about glass later.

Composting 101: Personal Action

I did it again. Cleaning the refrigerator a few weeks after the family all left following the holiday gathering I discovered several containers of fuzzy stuff. We obviously had prepared too much food, put some in a container in the frig to eat “later” and forgot about it as it got shoved to the back, behind other items. I suspect you know exactly what I mean.  Food waste at home happens.  But with a small change in behavior, it can be reduced.

So now, what to do with that disgusting science experiment. Certainly not edible, at least by me. Should I put it down the disposal, trash it or compost it?

I was surprised to learn that decaying food that has been put in the trash is one of the largest producer of methane at the landfill. Regardless of the cause of climate change, the basic science still exists and each of us can reduce our contribution to the problem. Once you understand the role that methane plays in climate change, you can see why making a very small change in your food trash habits can have a large influence on the health of our planet.methane-cycel

Food waste has become a larger and larger issue in the United States since the 1970s. Not only do we forget about the leftovers in the container in the back of the refrigerator, but our purchasing habits contribute to this issue. Sometimes the opportunity looks great to buy the economy size of some produce, planning to put some away in the freezer for another day. But then we get distracted and within a couple of days that concept is no longer viable, as the produce is limp or spotted or even moldy.

It is an amazing and horrible statistic that 40% of all food purchased in the US ends up as waste.  A couple of minor lifestyle changes can help reduce that.

  • Consider shopping more often than once a week. Many cultures have farmers’ markets that operate throughout the year, permitting the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables in smaller quantities as needed for meal preparation. In those nations, home refrigerators tend to be much smaller than ours.
  • If you want to have the fixings for a salad, think about buying the mixture you want at the store’s salad bar instead of buying individual packages of veggies. You can opt for the specific items you want and the quantity you need.
  • Prepare a shopping list before you head to the market. Better yet, prepare a meal plan and then make up the shopping list. This will help reduce impulse shopping and also eliminate the issue whether you need a specific ingredient or not. (And help your food budget!)  I know I have been guilty of having several containers of yogurt in the frig and not being able to eat it all before the mold starts growing.
  • Recognize when older food is safe to eat and unsafe to eat. The “best by” and “sell by” dates used by food processors is not the day some magical event happens that makes the item turn bad for you. They are the recommended dates for the most flavor and perhaps also the highest nutrition. However, as I had to teach my own kids, the milk is not bad on that date. It is generally good for at least three or four more days. Learn to sniff and yes, sour milk is not pleasant, but throwing good milk away is wasteful.This milk, in my frig still on Jan 13, is still drinkable.
  • Keep a written food waste audit. Write down the food items you end up throwing in the trash for two weeks. This will help you understand that it is not just food you are wasting, but your money.

Another area where considerable food waste happens is at restaurants.  If the plate served to you is too much to eat, ask for a doggie bag.  Make sure to eat it or give it that day to one of our outdoor neighbors.  Restaurants along McMinnville’s 3rd Street are participating in a trash audit which helps them determine how better to presort food waste from recyclables from landfill trash. We’ll talk more about this in another blog.

Finally, when you do realize you have lost the battle of eating the fresh produce before it spoiled, instead of throwing it into your trash, start participating in McMinnville’s Zero Waste program by ordering a compost bin for biweekly pick-up.  Go to the Recology Website (http://recologywesternoregon.com.pages.services/opt-in) to reserve your bins.

This is the result of what a composting program produces, good for your garden! compost-for-your-garden

Which Bin?

Originally published FEBRUARY 1, 2017 2 COMMENTS

I assume we are not the only household where each person has a regular chore. My husband takes out the trash typically and then also keeps track of the scheduled pick up so hauls the right bin out to the curb early enough on the pick-up day. Last week he was out of town and I noticed as I returned home from an errand that the neighbors’ trash and recycling cans were out so I dragged mine to the curb.  Apparently I was too late and the truck had already come, so we will wait for the next pick-up.

The trash barrel is not a problem. We have one lone plastic bag in there for the past week.   The recycling barrel is pretty full though and it will be interesting to see if we make it to the next pick-up two weeks from now. The glass recycling was not on the schedule for last week so at least I did not blooper with my delay for the glass!

I asked Zach Dotson to come over to help us figure out if we are sorting correctly and we found out we’re doing pretty well but there were some surprises.

We have small trash cans in the bedrooms and bathrooms and two larger cans in the kitchen. In the kitchen we do a regular sort of the trash and the recyclables.  The week before Zach was to visit we saved overflowing recycling for his audit in a plastic sack which we later just set aside for later trash bin use.  img_2004

We dumped and then sorted out the items I had put into my kitchen recycle bin. Zach sorted it all so we could much more easily see the amount of what kinds of things we had.
img_2008-2

Not everything we thought was recyclable turned out to be.  Here in McMinnville, plastic sandwich bags and other ziplocks are NOT able to be recycled. (in the future we will be working on an arrangement with the larger transfer station in Hillsboro to bring those and other items not processed in Mac.)

img_2009-2Also not able to be recycled are the plastic tops of plastic tubs like you use at the grocery store to buy salad items or freshly ground peanut butter (our weakness) or even good tops to better storage containers. (I just went through the periodic match the lid to the bottom and sure enough, came up with about three orphaned lids. Time to clear the drawer but unfortunately they now go to the landfill.)

I bake and love using parchment paper. I had been putting this into the recycling but Zach pointed out the box indicates it is compostible, so now it goes into counter top container I have for veggie trimmings and coffee grounds and carry out to our compost pile when that gets full.  img_2005-2

img_2006-2I also learned that when I tossed the small metal caps from bottles into the recycling that causes a problem and then end up in the landfill.  While they are usable by the recycling station, they are small and end up falling into nooks and crannies, sometimes fouling up the conveyor and usually ending up on the floor. Zach suggested putting metal caps inside a metal can and then crimping the can (smash it) to hold the caps inside.

img_1998Finally,  I preserve a lot of food by canning so during the year we have a lot of lids to toss. (You can reuse canning lids if you are using the jars for storage of items that do not need to be sealed, but you should never try to reuse the canning lids if you plan on water bath or pressure canning food. Those are one use only to provide a secure seal to inhibit botulism growth in canned foods.)  So metal lids with a plastic or rubberized gasket or lining into the trash. Also foil bags or wrappers that do not hold their shape (too much plastic in the mix) when squeezed. This was the post sort collection that will go to the trash…not bad for a week.  (We’ll talk about reducing by substitute concepts for those plastic bags in a later blog.)img_1997

We also had Zach check out the small trash can in our downstairs bathroom which also has the washer and dryer.img_1982In that trash there were numerous used facial tissues. I have sinus issues and sometimes nose bleeds, so was happy to hear that “bodily fluids” are all compostible.  I also asked Zach about feminine sanitary items and that answer is probably trash, as many contain plastic. But if a woman opts to use one without plastic it most likely is compostible. Now don’t get squeamish…you know animal manure is used in composting. All these are things that are full of nutrients that the soil will enjoy.img_1985

Paper items are, as most people know, recyclable.

img_1983Dryer lint is for the most part compostible. There are some people who restrict that only to 100% cotton lint, but our clothing has some cloth that is part polyester, which, of course, is a petroleum base thread and not truly recyclable. Think about what kind of clothes you wear and if what you are drying in your home dryer is less than 50% polyester you can probably feel okay to put it in compost.  An alternative use was suggested by a bird lover friend: leave small clumps of dryer lint in bushes for nest making material.

img_1990Finally, I found some items related to medicine I take has to be separated. The desiccant found in some vitamin bottles and other medicines can be reused in anything that is dry and you want to keep moisture out.  I have some liquid medicine for my sinus problem that comes packaged as 5 plastic vials to one foil wrapper. img_1984The foil held its shape when squeezed so it can be put in recycling. The plastic vials are not the kind that McMinnville’s Recology center can handle, so I must put that into the trash going to the landfill where it will, unfortunately, sit there for 1000 years or more. And THAT kind of sad misplacement of an item is the reason our landfill is so large and we must all get on board with the mission of Zero Waste McMinnville!

And meanwhile, I can get a financial benefit because of this audit. I now know since we have diverted over 60% of our waste from the landfill by composting and recycling, we can exchange our large garbage bin for a smaller one and save money on our fee to Recology! SCORE!

Now what do I do with it?

The pause in rain and the appearance of the sun are sure signs that outdoor activities are soon to follow.  Here in McMinnville, for example, the downtown Farmers’ Market begins Thursday May 18. It will have new hours, noon-6:00, that will make it convenient for people to pop over on their lunch hour to shop AND grab lunch. Because of construction on 2nd Street, it will relocate to Cowls between 2nd and 1st and also in the parking lot behind City Hall.

May 18th is also the start of the UFO Fest with the parade on Saturday the 20th at 2pm. On that day alone there will be about 20,000 people in downtown Mac!

And people mean……among other things, trash.  Lots of trash.

Before Zero Waste McMinnville started their effort to help divert garbage from the landfill, that event itself resulted in almost a ton of garbage at the landfill. Two years ago over 60% was diverted and last year over 75% was diverted away from the landfill!

What does that mean? It means that with a bit of help learning what can be recycled and what can be composted, only a small portion of the trash ended up in the landfill! Way to go!!!

We have been using  ClearStream stations on loan from Yamhill County Solid Waste Advisor Sherrie Mathison, and have been using them since 2015. Thanks to Sherrie for her support!   Our new ClearStream recycling stations were purchased with grant funding we received from the CAN’d Aid Foundation through their Crush It Crusade recycling program. Our original equipment, purchased in 2015, was also funded by CAN’D Aid, and we are very grateful for their support of our work.

Picture yourself at the UFO parade.

    

  

 You get something to eat and then look for a place to stash the trash. What goes where?  It’s simple!!
~~
Items that can be recycled go here!
     
 Items that can be composted to help enrich the soil go here!
  
And the rest is trash and ends up in the landfill.
This is great!! Everyone is learning how to reduce their trash and our City will be greener!  We’ll be there to help and if you would like to join the team, we need volunteers for a few hours at each event. Thanks!

Wineries, Move Over-There’s a New Tourist Destination in Town!

It seems to be a truism: people who have lived in a place for a long time may know their favorite restaurant, but they often are so set in their routine that they do NOT know all the new hot places to go see! My dad, who grew up in Brooklyn, loved taking us kids into New York City because he said he got to play tourist.  And I know,  even after living in the Hartford Connecticut area for over 14 years, I only visited the Mark Twain house when I returned with a carload of high school students on a college tour trip.

Still, you may be surprised that I bring out-of-town visitors to our transfer station at Recology when they come to see Oregon.

Let’s start with the premise that here until recently, and in most places in the United States even now, curbside collection of recycling is not typical. Trash, yes.  Mingled recycling, rare. Curbside collection of glass and yard waste, even more rare.

So, for the curious, checking out where that stuff goes and what they do with it is a normal tease.  For those who haven’t yet begun to think about the trash they generate, it is an eye-opener.

So, let’s visit Recology (1850 NE Lafayette Avenue, McMinnville) and see just what they do with what we give them.

When the truck comes today to pick up my mingled recyclables, they will be getting some cardboard, a bunch of junkmail, and a plastic jar I have no need to reuse. The truck will load up on its route and make it back to the transfer station by late morning, dump, and then head back out for another truckload. 

Inside the building, a forklift operator loads the mixed stuff on to a conveyor to a machine which compresses and bails it all. These bails are stacked and then sent off to a company that purchases our recyclables. That party is the one who sorts. Now, we could get more if we sorted locally, but the cost to process would probably be higher than the current system.

Some sorting is possible because of the collection bin system in the public portion of the center. 

Glass, for example, is sorted by color.  If you carry your glass to the transfer station you get directed to sort by color. 

The curbside collection is mingled, however. Trucks dump glass outside in a contained space for sorting before sending on to the glass buyers.  Okay, check out the beer (brown) drinkers versus red wine (clear) and white wine (green) drinkers.

Electronics are also collected inside, then moved and wrapped (the numbers indicate the weight)  and stored until a truckload is gained.  There are small amounts of gold and heavy metals that are pulled out; the gold for value, the heavy metals for safer disposal.  

 

 

 

 

Other items are also segregated and baled. Some, like cardboard,  are sold directly from McMinnville.

 

 

 

Some, like single use flimsy plastic sheeting,  have to be moved to another transfer station to be added to their collection.  Thin, single use plastic bags, similar to the ones used at grocery stores, are a huge problem.  Not only do they have few downstream uses, they typically end up littering our roadways and waterways, and then into the oceans.  McMinnville’s decision to stop permitting these bags to be used  will help improve our environment. As the Recology sign above indicates, REDUCE is one aspect we all need to practice.  If we don’t use a problematic item, we don’t need to worry about how to deal with it at the end of its usefulness.

 

 

 

 

There are other items that are collected inside the transfer station and then sorted and stored until the volume is enough to transfer. Things like motor oil and antifreeze are stored in bins most of us consider more useful for storing pre-bottled beverages.

People who do not pay for curbside trash or recycling pick-up may bring those items to the transfer station.  They are charged drop rates similar to the dump, but again, these items at the transfer station are recycled and so, there is an environmental advantage to this drop site. 

Before curbside pick-up was started last fall, many people had gotten used to bringing yard debris to the Greenlands site adjacent to the transfer station. Also part of the Recology organization, Greenlands accepts all kinds of natural items that can be used and reused.

For example, the curbside yard waste pick-up also permits raw vegetables and fruits. In other words, as you are preparing your supper, scraps not used for eating can be used for compost. Cooked food is NOT permitted. The mulch operation at Greenlands is pretty amazing with rows and rows of vegetable matter maturing.  If you need muclch for your home garden, consider buying some to be delivered from Greenlands instead of buying it in plastic (ugh) bags at the home centers or nurseries. 

So, if you haven’t already been to Recology,  go check it out.  You’ll be amazed at the things they take which will make you a more responsible person sorting for recycling instead of landfill! And you can raise the awareness of people who come to visit from areas where there is no similar recycling system to learn and hopefully get something started where they live!