Helping restaurants make dirt, not waste
Two Southwest restaurateurs have helped launch a new composting program that backers hope will allow restaurants across the Twin Cities to rethink their approach to waste.
Danny Schwartzman and Kim Bartmann worked with Eureka Recycling — a Minneapolis-based nonprofit that aims to eliminate waste — over the past six months on the program. It’s called Make Dirt, Not Waste, and it provides restaurants with resources on composting organic waste, using biodegradable containers, and more.
Schwartzman (who owns Common Roots Café in Lowry Hill East) and Bartmann (who owns Uptown’s Bryant-Lake Bowl and Barbette, and the Red Stag Supperclub) have each composted nearly 90 percent of their waste at their respective restaurants since they opened.
"They see sustainability not as a marketing tool or a feel-good thing … but a responsibility to a core principle to the way they operate," said Susan Hubbard, Eureka’s CEO, at a Dec. 15 event at the Wedge Co-op announcing the program.
"Business through the lens of sustainability is good business," Bartmann said. "It doesn’t have anything to do with crazy environmentalism."
Tracy Singleton, the owner of South Minneapolis’ Birchwood Café, also worked with Eureka to help create the program.
"(Composting) really lets us close the sustainability loop," she said. "From food to waste to compost to dirt to more local organic sustainable food."
Ten restaurants (including the five mentioned above) have taken the pledge to compost their waste, and Eureka hopes to sign additional restaurants in the coming months.
There’s more info on the new composting program online at www.makedirtnotwaste.org.
Rybak: To compost or not to compost
Our Dec. 1 issue featured a short profile on Mayor R.T. Rybak and his green-minded behavior. He drives a plug-in hybrid car, bikes frequently, buys local foods, cuts his lawn with a pushmower.
One thing the piece didn’t mention, though, was composting. That’s because Rybak and his wife, Meg, weren’t into it.
"We keep thinking, ‘Well, we want to do that but we’re busy, and it stinks and all that kind of thing,’" Rybak said, speaking at the Eureka composting program kickoff earlier this month.
Now they’re ready to give it a try.
"I’m a politician who likes dirt," he said.
Rybak turned to Hubbard, the Eureka Recycling CEO. "Would you tell me what Meg and I should be doing with this so it doesn’t stink in our house?"
No word yet on what composting system Rybak will use, though at the event he recoiled slightly at the idea of a bucket with live worms.
Council commits to Target Center green roof
The Minneapolis City Council recently committed to keeping the Target Center viable for at least four more decades, voting Dec. 12 to install a green roof atop the arena.
Some have criticized the project because of the arena’s age and the time — two decades, by most estimates — it will take the city to recoup the $5.3 million cost through reduced energy needs. It also isn’t clear whether the Timberwolves, the arena’s most lucrative client, will stay once the team’s lease expires in 2025.
Council Member Lisa Goodman (7th Ward) said the decision was made simply because the roof needed to be replaced, and because the 115,000-square-foot green roof is expected to last 40 years — twice the lifespan of a typical roof.
"It’s not like let’s just put some plants on top of the Target Center," Goodman said. "… It’s being strictly installed for environmental purposes."
Several council members pointed to the green roof’s ability to absorb water as potentially helping to keep Downtown cooler during the dog days of summer, lessening the so-called urban heat island effect. The arena’s stormwater utility fee is expected to decrease by about $9,000 per year.
"Both for energy and water systems, this is a good project," Council Member Sandra Colvin Roy (12th Ward) said.
The greening of our larger community
HOURCAR, the Twin Cities car-share program, now offers a plug-in vehicle at its location at the light-rail station at Hiawatha and 46th Street in South Minneapolis. The Prius is charged by a solar-powered system.
HOURCAR has a second solar-powered station in the Twin Cities—it’s in St. Paul at Mississippi Market in the Selby-Dale neighborhood.
HOURCAR has several Southwest locations, including: The Wedge Co-op (22nd Street & Lyndale Avenue); the Calhoun Square ramp (Hennepin Avenue & 31st Street); the Hennepin Avenue YWCA (at 28th Street); and Nicollet Avenue & 19th Street in Stevens Square.
Visit www.hourcar.org for more information on the program.
Cristof Traudes contributed to this report.