Artist Spotlight: Peggy LaPoint and Psoup handmade

Peggy LaPoint learned how to sew as a kid, but it wasn’t until she was a working adult that she pulled out a machine that her husband had bought her a few years earlier. It was a basic sewing machine that Rick had seen in the returns section of a store and bought it as a surprise because he thought she might like it.  She had a job that was not enjoyable and she hoped the sewing would give her some joy.

“I had decided to take the machine out and start sewing on it but first I needed to practice, so I went to SCRAP to pick up some inexpensive fabric. I fell in love with the upholstery fabric samples and started playing around with them. Soon I was finding other types of material there and through friends who worked at places where leftover or excess material was going to be thrown out. I have been picking them up for over 15 years now and creating pillows, handbags & tabletop items with them that I sell to boutiques, museum stores and art shows!”6CD48A02-B564-4F06-9C2B-436A3F816344 - Peggy LaPoint

Peggy discovered she loved taking items that would otherwise go to the landfill and turn them into something, not just functional, but interesting and unexpected.  “Every few months I`ll be given something completely different and it challenges me to think of new ideas or designs.”   Former tent awnings get turned into totes, upholstery fabric samples get repurposed into purses and pouches, and theatre curtain liners get transformed into farmers market bags. Each season brings new materials, so many of Peggy’s items are limited-run!375FFB8A-E8D4-461A-9260-24B360A4089B - Peggy LaPoint

Peggy designed her 8-pocket tote to fit into her bike`s saddle bags. The 8 pockets on the outside help to keep all items organized.  Her purses, clutches, handbags and pouches are made from upholstery fabric samples, cut-off pieces of sunbrella and leather scraps (most purchased at SCRAP). Vintage curtain fabrics are used to make purses and she also use photo backdrop with old logos from radio stations to make grocery totes. vinyl banner bags Peggy LaPoint

Peggy LaPoint and Psoup handmade is located at Table #20.

 

Artist Spotlight: Penelope Bellus and Oh Sew Penny

When Penny’s mother taught her to sew when she was twelve years old, she
immediately fell in love with the craft.  She started making her own clothes and
later made her daughter’s clothes, as well as children’s clothes and baby
comforters for a children’s store.  Though she took a break while pursuing
a “real” job, sewing has remained a creative outlet for her throughout her
life.

Penny has been recycling for many years, and recently started to mesh that
with her craft.  She discovered that there are so many vintage linens still out there that
are not being used because they have holes or stains.  Many of these end
up in the landfill.  All of my aprons are made from vintage linens, most from the 1940s and 50s. She mainly uses tablecloths, but also has feed sacks, dish towels, and vintage yardage and embellishes them with doilies, hankies, dresser scarves, rick rack, and lace.  OSP p4

Penny says, “They don’t make cottons of this quality anymore, and
I love being able to upcycle them. I can cut around the flaws and make
my aprons.  Something considered useless is now a work of art, as well
as something useful once again.”oh Sew Penny aprons

 

Penelope Bellus and Oh Sew Penny are located at Table #13.

Artists Spotlight: Melody Hanson and HandyTotes

Introducing Melody Hanseon’s HandyTotes to you is the perfect time to explain that the name of this event, the McMinnville Recycled Arts Festival is a bit of a misnomer.

Yes, the event is in “McMinnville” and here in McMinnville we are making great strides to recognize issues that can reduce the waste we send to the landfill. Together, Zero Waste McMinnville and Recology help residents and visitors better understand how trash should be sorted and can have a better “end stage” than covered by dirt in an expanding mountain of garbage.

“Recycled” is a term that commonly means that the materials used to make an item can be reused to make a similar item. Plastic bottles to plastic bottles is a good example. But what about plastic things into other ways to use the same plastic things? Like we are seeing people elsewhere in the world use plastic bottles, filled with sand, as a building block material in developing nations. That is NOT recycling, but upcycling or “alternative use.”

We have many many many examples of UPCYCLING at the Festival…..not any recycled use really.

And then, the word “Arts”. The first common accepted usage is we were looking for items made with care, with meticulous attention to detail, to presentation in a new way. There is also a subsidiary definition of development of a skill that presents items that are used in new ways.  All that will be evident in the Nicholson Library during the Festival.

Melody Hanson reached a point when a collection of plastic needed to be cleared from her storage area. A couple years ago, she had an accumulation of empty polywoven feed bags and attempted to find a place to recycle them.  Not having any success, she started making tote bags for a few friends and neighbors for them to trial and give their feedback.  This grew in response and within a few months, she started an Etsy shop where she offers handmade tote bags with a large selection of different images.Assorted feedsack bags- Melody `Hanson

Now there are some people who think we should ban all plastics and I can get behind the idea that drilling for more oil  has to stop. We have more than enough plastic in the world. Let’s find ways to break them down and reuse the material.  The problem about plastic-that it will naturally take hundred and thousands of years to really break down-is also the benefit of why we like using that durable material.

The sturdy aspect of HandyTotes is that they will last a really really long time. You just have to remember to carry them back out to your car and into the store!IMG_6651 - Melody `Hanson (1)

Your effort to change that shopping container habit will add up, just like Melody feels about her effort to make the bags: “To convert materials that would otherwise go into the garbage into reusable tote bags.  To give useful materials a second life and prevent waste.  To help save the earth.”

We each can add our ways to help.

Melody Hanson and HandyTotes are at Table #3.

Artist Spotlight: Kathy Benitez and Alaska Sea Glass Art

Archaelogists LOVE trash. By looking at an ancient civilization’s midden piles, scientists can tell us a lot about the food people ate, the illnesses they had, the kinds of materials they used in their everyday life…and so much more.

Kathy Benitez found more than she expected when she visited her daughter last summer in the remote Alaskan village.  “When it was time to leave, the bush plane was delayed by five days for a variety of reasons. It was during this time I started to enjoy beachcombing and picking up the beautiful sea glass.” DSC01463 - Kathy Benitez

Kathy learned that the sea glass was discarded into the ocean over 100 years ago by people departing steamboats and starting their trek up the Yukon for a hopeful fortune in gold. KB2

“I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with the glass at the time, but sent it home and learned how to make wall hangings and jewelry.  I love working with sea glass because it has a story. The ocean has turned trash into something beautiful with gem-like qualities and reminds people of the power and beauty of the ocean.”KB.jpg

Kathy Benitez and Alaska Sea Glass Art is located at Table #4.

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. 

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.)

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.

It’s Hard to Get My Head Around It….

Apparently, it’s hard for many people to get their head around how large a plastic pollution problem there is in our world.  We love our plastic but we also like to imagine that when we throw things “away” they actually disappear…….but that is not the case at all. Read on:

Associated Press, Wednesday, December 18, 2018

LONDON – The burgeoning crisis in plastic waste has won the attention of Britain’s Royal Statistical Society, which chose 90.5 percent – the proportion of plastic waste that has never been recycled – as its international statistic of the year.

The society, which chooses a winner from nominations made by the public, picked the statistic generated in a U.N. report based on the work of U.S. academics Roland Geyer, Jenna R Jambeck and Kara Lavender Law.

Public awareness of the problem has been growing, particularly after filmmaker David Attenborough’s documentary “Blue Planet II” showed sea turtles shrouded in plastic among other horrors.

Geyer says he was honored by the accolade and hopes “it will help draw attention to the problem of plastic pollution that impacts nearly every community and ecosystem globally.” https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2018/12/18/plastic-90-5-percent-not-recycled/2346873002/

If you recycled all the plastic garbage in the world, you could buy the NFL, Apple and Microsoft SFGate.com<http://SFGate.com>, Tuesday, December 18, 2018, by Liberty Vittert, Washington University in St Louis

THE CONVERSATION) This year, I served on the judging panel for The Royal Statistical Society’s International Statistic of the Year. On Dec. 18, we announced the winner: 90.5 percent, the amount of plastic that has never been recycled. Okay – but why is that such a big deal?  Much like Oxford English Dictionary’s “Word of the Year” competition, the international statistic is meant to capture the zeitgeist of this year. The judging panel accepted nominations from the statistical community and the public at large for a statistic they feel shines a light on today’s most pressing issues.

Last year’s winner was 69. That’s the annual number of Americans killed, on average, by lawn mowers – compared to two Americans killed annually, on average, by immigrant jihadist terrorists and the 11,737 Americans killed annually by being shot by another American. That figure, first shared in The Huffington Post, was highlighted in a viral tweet by Kim Kardashian in response to the proposed migrant ban.

This year’s statistic came into prominence from a United Nations report. The chair of the judges and RSS president, Sir David Spiegelhalter, said: “It’s really concerning that so little plastic has ever been recycled and, as a result, so much plastic waste has leached out into the world’s environment. It’s a great, growing and genuinely world problem.”
Let’s take a closer look at this year’s winning statistic. About 90.5 percent of the 6.3 billion metric tons of plastic waste produced since mass production began about 60 years ago is now lying around our planet in landfills and oceans or has been incinerated. If we don’t change our ways, by 2050, there will be about 12 billion metric tons of plastic waste.

When the panel first began looking at this statistic, I really didn’t have any comprehension of what billions of tons of plastic means. Based on a study from 2015 and some back of the envelope calculations, that’s the equivalent of 7.2 trillion grocery bags full of plastic as of 2018.

But again, I still didn’t quite have a feel for how much that actually is. People tend to use distance measurements to compare numbers, so I tried that. Assuming that a grocery bag of plastic is about 1 foot high, if you stacked the grocery bags, you could go to the moon and back 5,790 times. That’s starting to feel a bit more real.

In fact, if you could monetize all of the plastic trash clogging up our environment – including the 12 percent that is incinerated– you could buy some of the world’s biggest businesses.

Assuming it costs 3.25 cents to produce a plastic bottle, we can estimate that a grocery bag contains about US$1 of plastic material production. (I took a grocery bag and filled it with 31 bottles.) So 7.2 trillion grocery bags is the equivalent of a cool $7.2 trillion.
What can you buy with that? Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Walmart, Exxon, GM, AT&T, Facebook, Bank of America, Visa, Intel, Home Depot, HSBC, Boeing, Citigroup, Anheuser-Busch, all the NFL teams, all the MLB teams and all the Premier League Football teams.

In other words, if someone could collect and recycle all the unrecycled plastic on earth, this person would be richer than any individual on the planet.
One of the most difficult aspects of statistics is putting the numbers into a context that we can wrap our heads around, into a format that means something to us. Whatever it is that speaks to you, all I can say is that this speaks to me. It’s clearly time to clean up our act. https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/If-you-recycled-all-the-plastic-garbage-in-the-13474181.php

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