Saturday, December 26, 2009

Undoing the Wrap

Last week, a neighborhood list-serve that I am on had a long thread on alternatives to wrapping paper. The list members had many cool suggestions for wrapping gifts in such as old maps, architectural drawings, trendy newspaper sections, and fabric. Lots of enthusiasm was expressed for kicking the resource-dependent wrapping-paper-habit.

Here is an exhaustive collection of 36 alternates to wrapping paper to get one started from Wisebread & by no means do they mean a gift needs to look shabby. Above is a cloth wrapping guide put out by the Japanese government aimed at reducing waste. Once you see the possibilities, there is so much paper & fabric that could be re-purposed, it seems silly to spend money on unrecyclable and single-use wrapping paper.

This takes my thoughts to school fundraisers that sell wrapping paper. During gift wrap season, our household will easily get requests from five or six different schools. That is a lot of wrapping paper being pushed for a demand that maybe isn't there. I have been declining wrap for a few years now, instead writing a check to the school directly (which then doubles my contribution on my sale). Another MidPoint Green post should ponder school fundraising, but for now this site appears to have potential- fabric gift bags & recycled gift papers . At least paper purchased here would contain recycled content. Do you have experiences with the site?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Holiday Lights: the Broken, the Rundown and the Weary

How does an Eco-sensitive household handle holiday decorations? It is a question that can haunt. The plastic light-up crèche, blow-up NASCAR Santa, laughing-motion-detecting Christmas tree all require resources to make and just what to do with them once they break? Like for many folks, reducing consumption, reusing/re-purposing, and using natural items for winter displays are becoming more common at our house.

At least broken light strings can now be recycled, thanks to Recycling Association of Minnesota (RAM). Ram has created a program where the collected light strings are disassembled and each part is recycled for a different purpose .

The broken light strings are received at PPL Industry's job training facility where employees there disassemble the strings. Each element of the light string is directed to its own recycling process, for example the bulbs are recycled into tiles, asphalt and fiberglass, and the metal in the cords is captured in another process. A video of the process can be seen at this link (wav) . Since early December, 15,000 pounds of light strings have been diverted from landfill or the garbage burner through this program.

Two neighborhood groups around the Twin Cities are making sure collections are local and easy to get to. All locations for light drop off outside the neighborhood can be found on the RAM webpage. Below, list the sites arranged by neighborhood groups in SE Como, Minneapolis and the Midway of St. Paul.

HMEG Announces Holiday Light Recycling Now Available in the Midway at Hamline Hardware

The Hamline Midway Environmental Group (HMEG) invites you to recycle your incandescent light strings to reduce waste! The light recycling is sponsored by RAM and drop-off locations can be found at Snyder Drugs (coupon incentive available) and Como Zoo. However, to make light recycling even more convenient for Hamline Midway residents, HMEG has arranged a drop off location right in the Hamline Midway neighborhood.

To recycle your unusable light strings, just bring them to Hamline Hardware store (755 Snelling Ave N St Paul, MN 55104, 651-646-4049) from now until January 10th.

Holiday Light Recycling Comes to SECIA

The SECIA staff noticed that the options for recycling broken incandescent light strings were inconvenient to SE Minneapolis residents. To remedy this, the SECIA office signed on to be a drop-off location for broken holiday lights. Light recycling fits right into the Como Green Village waste reduction efforts. The light recycling is sponsored by RAM and its appropriate that there is a drop-off in SE Como because the lights are disassembled right in the neighborhood! PPL Industry's job training facility on 15th Ave SE eventually receives the broken light strings and employees there take apart the strings.

To recycle your unusable light strings, just bring them to SECIA's office from now until January 10th. Do note, the office will be closed between Dec 24th through January 4th for the holidays. It is recommended that you call ahead to make sure a staff person will be there. Some evening hours are available.