Imagine This — Now Let’s Make It Happen!

We’ve heard your frustration. We understand you want to do the right thing. But it seems the target is always moving, making it hard.

Yes, that is the reality of recycling.

We got complacent. When our mixed recycling was sent “away” to the Far East, we could pat ourselves on the back that we had been great; we had sorted our trash and sent our plastics and paper to a place where they would be reprocessed into more of the same. We believed that. It was rarely true.

When China and then more of the Southeastern Asia nations started refusing OUR garbage we first felt the pain of betrayal, but then we realized it is OUR trash and we need to be more responsible.

We’ve talked about REFUSING to spend money on items you may want but recognize the packaging is adding to the problem. Only when manufacturers feel some pain through reduced income by our REFUSAL, will they explore alternative and greener packaging.

We’ve talked about COMPOSTING those overlapping items that could be recycled but can also be composted, like cardboard and paper. Some of the limitations that make paper unable to be recycled make them prime for composting but even some of those are not smart to compost. IMG_3980 (2)

Let’s talk about RECYCLING those items that are not a high enough volume to be collected curbside, but perhaps in an annual or semi-annual event.IMG_3998 (2)

Recently, the Washington Country Master Recyclers held another of their quarterly PlanetCon events at a Hillsboro High School. Residents in the county were invited to bring their batteries, electronics, Styrofoam, plastics and more to a one-day event.IMG_3969 (2)

There were about fifty volunteers to help direct traffic, accept (and refuse some) items, and then sort them. The items that had to be refused are those that have no local end user. Lists of acceptable items had been provided along with the marketing of the PlanetCon event, but people still bring others in the hopes they can send it to be repurposed. They were told, unfortunately, that some items still must go to the landfill.

PlanetCon also offered one table for swapping items that no longer had value to individuals but were in good condition for further use. Similar to the rest of  the event, there was no charge for this, but some rules in terms of what could be brought. IMG_3987 (2)

Are you interested in getting rid of items that could be collected at an annual recycling event?  Are you willing to put in some time to help this event happen?  We will need a planning committee and we will need volunteers at the event to make it flow well.

Currently there is no Master Recycler program in Yamhill County but it will be offered by Yamhill County Solid Waste if at least 10 people express interest.  Meanwhile, the county solid waste office holds several household hazardous collections each year.  The spring collection was in Newberg in mid May. An event in mid October will be held in McMinnville at the fairgrounds. Image result for there is no away

Recycling Issues Lead to a New Step: REFUSING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image result for rejection
source: The Business Journals

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

Image result for store brand pasta  packaging
source: Dakota Growers

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

 

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

McMinnville Recycled Arts Festival

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

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

And all from trash.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 How to Qualify as a Vendor:

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

 Prior to the Event:

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

During the Event:

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

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

Join us!!  qr code recycled_arts_festival

 

 

Styrofoam Project Success!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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