Residents take differing approaches to composting
Neighbors participating in the Linden Hills Compost pilot are experiencing the 1970s all over again.
Recycling was a new phenomenon then and many thought it was just a passing fad. Today, there is voluntary citywide recycling and, for the first time in Minneapolis, a voluntary compost pilot program in the Linden Hills neighborhood.
All organics, such as leftover food scraps, coffee grounds, and even pet hair can be piled in a bag, transported to compost bin and sent to a processing facility to break down naturally and safely. However, plastics, pet droppings and yard clippings are not allowed — at least not yet.
A recent meeting revealed that many of the roughly 1,000 residents taking part in the pilot program since its Sept. 15 launch have their own style and approach to composting.
Some set up compost piles in their backyards, while others use plastic storage containers in their back hallway.
A few residents questioned whether they could use plastic bags to reduce the stickiness of compost bins. The answer is no.
Therefore, organizers suggested using the somewhat pricey biodegradable garbage bags, or even — perhaps, sadly — this Southwest Journal as a liner for your organics bin.
The program’s director, Susan Young, said organics carts containing too many liquids, loose organics or nonorganics — such as wood scraps — will be tagged and left on the curb.
Organizers also recommended other helpful options: Convert your kitchen trashcan into a compost compactor or consider a pull-out “trash drawer” for trash featuring multiple compartments with organics, recyclable paper and nonrecyclables in three separate spaces.
Young said the jury is still out, however, on whether the progressive compost program will get past the pilot stage, noting that it will be evaluated after its first year.
Hennepin County Organics and Recycling Specialist John Jaimez said that, most of the time, 75 percent of residents must participate in a compost program to make it a viable option. Very early estimates Oct. 2 showed about 25 percent of Linden Hills residents participating.
The pilot program is funded by Hennepin County ($80,000) and Minneapolis ($500,000).
For a more comprehensive list of compostable materials, go to www.lhpowerandlight.org.
From the curb to the bank?
RecycleBank, a program that rewards those who recycle in the form of coupons, is taking off in western Hennepin County, but Allied Waste, which maintains exclusive rights to the program, said it doesn’t have a specific date of when it would be pitched as a possibility in Minneapolis.
“I don’t know right now,” said Allied Waste’s District Municipal Services Manager Rich Hirstein. “[Minneapolis] has a recycling contract and different contract all together. But we would certainly love to talk to them.”
The program, which has seen success in a growing number cities, likely wouldn’t be able to be adopted in Minneapolis unless a number of city contracts expired or were amended, Hirstein said.
Susan Young, Minneapolis’s solid waste and recycling director, said that she will take a close look at RecycleBank after the Linden Hills Compost Pilot program ends, but that, by and large, the program is only a viable option in the suburbs where micro-chipped recycling bins would be easier to collect and keep track of from week-to-week.
While Hirstein didn’t have a specific timetable as to when he would pitch RecycleBank plans to the city, he said: “We fully intend to soon.”
Young said that adopting RecycleBank in Minneapolis would mean hiring an estimated three full-time employees at a cost of $120,000, getting local business on board and the end of the recycling credit.
Both Hirstein and Young are awaiting results of the newly launched RecycleBank programs in specific neighborhoods in Eden Prairie (October) and Maple Grove (February) to produce quantifiable results.
Several Southwest legislators awarded for green voting record
Five Southwest legislators had clean, green voting records in 2008, according to a conservation organization.
As a result, state Reps. Margaret Anderson Kelliher (DFL-60A), Paul Thissen (DFL-63A) and Karen Clark (DFL-61A), and state Sens. Scott Dibble (DFL-60) and Dan Larson (DFL-63), received the so-called “100% Minnesotan” award Sept. 22 for their “perfect record on key conservation, energy and clean water votes” during the 2008 Minnesota legislative session.
The Conservation Minnesota Voter Center, which presented the award, bills itself as a nonpartisan informational organization that enables citizens to check Minnesota legislative voting records on green issues.
The five Southwest lawmakers awarded were part of a contingent of 40 state representatives and state 17 senators who performed perfectly, according to www.mnvotercenter.org.
The website scored legislators’ votes on a proposed constitutional amendment to increase state investment in clean water, parks and habitat; environmentally friendly transportation funding; clean cars; nontoxic toys; global warming-emissions cuts; recycling; and others.