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.

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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.

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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.

 

Artist Spotlight: Janet Ronacher and Fiber Design By Janet

Sometimes something completely unexpected causes a life path to take a slight turn in a direction previously unexplored.  Janet Ronacher explains, “I began fusing plastic bags in my artwork after reading that the Hurricane in Haiti destroyed the dwellings of residents.  The monsoon rains that continued after the Hurricane horrified a Bend woman who decided to get her friends together to iron 10’ x 10’ tarps to give the Haitians some shelter.  I have never met the woman but I was so impressed with her can-do spirit as she sent many tarps to Haiti.”

And so, a seed was planted and Janet started to explore this new concept. After thinking about the woman in Bend and dreaming about the possibilities Janet started experimenting with small bags.  That included layering bags, ironing them
together until she had roughly a 12” x 24” piece of plastic that she could cut into strips and weave as baskets. C870E4A5-C23F-4414-8FD8-E8ABFFBEB9EF - Janet Ronacher

“I was surprised that the bags I had were not  enough to really work as I thought they should.  So I asked friends and neighbors for any bags they thought were bright and colorful for me to try.  I was shocked at the number of folks who were delighted to have a use for the bags.  That one basket the size of a 6” x 6” box used over thirty bags. It was difficult to count the bags and keep ironing and then weaving so I never counted again.”AFA5D070-9C87-4D32-957E-46063B6C56D9 - Janet Ronacher

(The difference between Janet and me (and maybe many of you) is that her work is art. Mine, at best, would be “craft”. This is a good time to explain that the jury process was used to separate out the work of people who, while done well, just did not reach that level of art we hoped to introduce to the public. Janet’s ability to take one of the biggest contributors to an environmental mess on our planet and produce something attractive and even functional is a talent that many do not have.)03B65C2A-E731-4A0D-9547-425A833F8C59 - Janet Ronacher (1)

“I feel good about using reclaimed materials as my medium since it is so plentiful and I feel compelled to keep as much as possible out of the oceans, waterways and food supplies of animals and humans.  I have read that plastic never really goes away and that it has a half life of over 400 years. Yes I might run out of materials eventually and my work will someday become waste also.  In the meantime I will continue to save the environment one bag at a time until scientists and engineers find a better alternative.”3542AE58-7144-4295-9F32-EFBB90327938 - Janet RonacherJanet Ronacher and Fiber Design By Janet will be located at Booth #31.

Not So Extreme Lifestyle

I’ve read about a woman in New York City who has been living a zero waste lifestyle and after a year only had a quart of trash to go to the landfill. and have learned that Millennial women are leading the way with this life style.  Why them?

Well,  it seems really radical to me, and I am making a decent effort to reduce my trash in all ways. The idea of producing only a quart of trash seems to involve a lot of work to prepare items that can be purchased in stores.  And yet I cook from scratch and preserve food all year long, so why not toiletries too?  Why does that “fully deep into it lifestyle” seem so hard?

Today I visited a family in Newberg where the choice to live zero waste is definitely in place. I expected to be bombarded with so many ideas that I wouldn’t know what to talk about with you but was really surprised when Joerg Peter spent his time with us talking about two issues: sorting trash and a home construction project.

With a sense of humor and a nod to marital harmony, Joerg concedes that his wife rules on the main and upper living levels and his domain includes the basement and the attic. So we soon were down in the basement to learn about his way of collecting the trash in his house and how he sorts.

He had a kitchen sized trash can that he had carried down to his sorting station tucked next to the stairs. The trash in the garbage can was clean….no wetness, no food scraps. All cans and bottles washed clean and dry.  In the sort station there was a small table, a few bins and several other small containers. Paper was laid flat in a pile, the better way to minimize space. Cardboard food containers were also opened and then folded flat to minimize space.  Plastic bags that Joerg drops at Cascade Steel (he says there is still a collection for that there.) were separated and stuck flat into a plastic sack that used to hold potting soil.  Snack bags were  recognized as a landfill item that never will decay. (Joerg has a teenage son whose food choices were attributed as the source of  containers that could not be recycled or composted.) Metal was separated into steel and aluminum using a magnet to be sure.  Smaller pieces of steel or aluminum were placed in the appropriate container and then the ends smashed flat to reduce space and to keep the smaller pieces inside.  Small pieces of metal coated plastic was torn apart and each piece placed where it belonged.  The sort took about 5 minutes, and only because we were asking questions.

trash sorting

The point to understand here is that many of us sort very poorly which means the recycling we send in, despite feeling very good that we have made an effort, is contaminated, and therefore will probably end up in the landfill. Rinsing cans and plastic containers at the sink takes maybe a minute as part of meal clean-up. How many of us take that time?

Joerg’s also obviously coming from an place where mingling just doesn’t make sense.  Since he lives outside of Newberg he actually does not have curbside pick-up but makes a run to the Recology depot there about every other week.

The large project we wanted to admire was his personal reconstruction of his chimney. Built originally around 2001, the visible portions of the fireplace hearth and chimney appear well built with attention to detail and careful use of material.  But a problem showed up and when he inspected the construction in areas that were not easily accessible, he ran into more questionable construction technique and knew he had a project.

chimneyMost of us would have to stop right there and search for a contractor, but Joerg Peter apprenticed in his native Germany as a mason. He had learned the skills long ago, and he chucked when he told us how finally muscle memory seemed to kick in with some of the tasks.

tiles and mortarLike chipping the mortar off the bricks he carefully removed to be able to re-use them.  Yes. Re-use the bricks. And the masonry and ceramic tiles. And the mortar. Yes, he saved the mortar……..not to use again for the chimney but in other ways on his land.

mortar dust on driveway.JPGThis is the perfect time to remind us all that using something again does not have to be in the same way it was first used. The larger chunks of mortar that end up as large gravel are useful in areas on the natural driveway to help in muddy spots. The mortar than ended up as dust on his basement floor was carried out in buckets and placed at the end of his driveway where it meets the pavement. It absorbs water and becomes stable, providing a smooth surface.

Back to the basement…..Joerg Peter carefully removed the tiles around the bricks in the chimney, lowering them in a basket to his teenage son to remove and stack. The orderliness in the basement was impressive. And the materials remain in usable form this way, not chipped with indiscriminate tossing into a pile, as my observation  of similar work areas has been.newspaper and more storage

Joerg Peter admitted he has been working on the new chimney for a few years and this winter their heating was dependent on the electric system in the house instead of the wood stove.  The last bill convinced him that he would get the job done before the next winter heating season begins.

The clear take-away from this visit was that all this sustainability is reachable. While I personally do not have construction skills so I would need to hire a contractor for a similar job, I could very easily require that contractor to aim for zero waste with the materials on site. Yes, the job will take more time. It is much faster to use a pry bar and sledge hammer…and there is some satisfaction in being allowed to destroy as  we have watched as homeowners gleefully take their turn on those home improvement shows.

It is time we all slow down and take the time to plan our garbage related tasks a bit differently……and our own zero waste effort can improve.

 

A Few Steps BEFORE Recycling

Recycling is a feel-good process. Our trash hauler Recology identifies itself as a recycling company, not a landfill company.  That means when China and other Southeast Asian countries stopped taking mixed recyclables from the United States,  we had to go through an adjustment.

Last summer there were more restrictions about what was allowed in our bin. But Recology has worked hard to find buyers for our recyclables and more items are allowed now.  And you can now bring your polystyrene foam to the Depot.  Check Recology’s What Bin? app on their website to see how you should sort that item. Call the office at (503) 472-3176 if the answer is not provided in the software.

That is all good news, but it’s important that you also understand that not all recycling gets used that way. While things might be better here because of Recology’s priority,  less than 9% of plastics are recycled  worldwide.

You’ve seen the photos of how trashed the ocean is. You’ve read by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than ocean animals. You’ve read the news that there is plastic inside our bodies now from the food we eat and water we drink.  We have no idea how this is affecting us.

It’s going to take some effort to clean things up so our children and their children have a healthier environment.

That is why Zero Waste McMinnville also encourages you to start REFUSING to buy items if they use plastic in their packaging…plastic that immediately has to be trashed…if you have a zero-waste option. Using the bulk bins in the supermarket is an easy way to make that transition. Most of the grocery stores in town have bins; Winco has a very large selection that also includes pet food. But there is one more step to being a zero-waster when you move to bulk bins: you need to bring re-usable containers with you. 

The stores provide plastic bags and plastic containers. The bags will go to the landfill and we know the issues with wind blowing that lightweight an item off the landfill and into the Yamhill River and onto adjacent properties.  I use mesh bags that I found online, but more are becoming available in the stores themselves to encourage this behavior. They are tightly woven and can hold solids, but fine items like sugars might fall through some larger weave bags.  I can toss them in the wash to make sure they stay clean to hold food. 

tare
Source: Wild Minimalist

I use an offered  plastic container to fill with peanut butter, but I wash it and bring it back to the store for re-use.  At this time there is no tare station at the bulk bins but if you want to bring your own containers, and many people prefer glass to plastic, you can stop at a check out and ask them to tare your container. Make sure to have them write the tare weight on the container or its lid. That way, when you are ready to pay, you will only pay for the weight of the contents.

REDUCING is another step to use to minimize your trash. One of the biggest waste issues in our homes is food. People may not like eating left-overs, so they get pushed to the back of the frig and eventually become fuzzy. Not going to eat that!  

So, when buying fresh food like fruits and vegetables, milk and other refrigerated items, having an idea of what you will make with the items will help minimize having extra sitting around and spoiling in your house.  Use your freezer to package up produce in season when locally grown fruits and vegetables taste so fresh. The library has cookbooks and the Extension Service on Lafayette Avenue also has information that can help you prepare your food for the freezer so it will be delicious and safe to eat at a later time.  

Dehydrating and canning are other ways to preserve surplus food as well as prepared dishes when you have leftovers. These methods also end up with a shelf-safe product, which means it can be put in the pantry or cupboard and not take up freezer space.

Image result for re-use
Source: Tanana Valley Watershed Association

RE-USE is another step that eliminates trash. Sometimes we buy something and enjoy it but stop using it either because habits change or something breaks.  If you really are not going to use something again, pass it on. Decluttering is a very freeing feeling and no reason to keep things you won’t use.  I had a father-in-law who filled his barn over 60 years with broken things because “he might need them.” We had a lot of clean-up to do when he passed on.  But he grew up in the Depression and learned to be frugal.  We also can be more frugal but not to that point!  If the item needs something fixed in order to use it, be creative because many manufacturers want us to be attached at the wallet and plan the obsolescence of their product.  Sometimes they don’t even offer parts so you can repair things.   You might find some of these ideas useful!

LOGO jpegIf you want some amazing ideas of re-use and alternative use make sure to come to the McMinnville Recycled Arts Festival April 26th & 27th at the Linfield College Nicholson Library. It really is a misnomer to call it a “recycled” arts festival as the artists have amazing items that have used things that might be considered trash in alternative ways to produce things to enjoy.  Alternative use or upcycling are more common terms for these things. Come and see.

Only after you REFUSE, REDUCE,  and consider  RE-USE are you ready to sort your trash into recycling, composting or landfill. 

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!)

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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

 

 

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