Green digest // Banning the bottle

LINDEN HILLS — Some little plastic bottles will disappear from the shelves of Linden Hills Co-op before Nov. 1.

The co-op recently announced a decision not to sell still water in plastic bottles smaller than one gallon. A group of staff members on the co-op’s Green Team pushed for the change, which was made to reduce waste and lighten the co-op’s environmental impact, said Jeanne Lakso, the co-op’s marketing and member services manager.

“What we’re really trying to promote is for people to make that lifestyle change of getting a personal water bottle that’s infinitely reusable,” Lakso said.

She said the decision reflects a growing concern about the waste from discarded water bottles and the energy needed to produce and transport the plastic containers. The co-op sold about 12,000 bottled waters last year, Lakso said.

The change came shortly after the launch of the city-sponsored Tap Minneapolis campaign (tapmpls.com), which encourages residents to choose tap water over bottled water. It cites both environmental and economic benefits for drinking from the tap rather than a bottle.

In announcing the switch, the co-op also acknowledged it could be “a big lifestyle change” for some of its customers. To ease the transition, it will offer free refills for personal-sized reusable water bottles from its reverse-osmosis water machine until December 2010.

Lakso said the co-op’s Green Team had led several other green initiatives.

They challenged staff to walk, bike or ride the bus to work instead of driving. In the first 100 days of the project, staff traveled nearly 10,000 miles by alternative transportation, reducing their total carbon footprint by an estimated 9,000 pounds, Lakso said.

The co-op also recently phased-out disposable bowls and plates for eat-in deli customers, replacing them with reusable dishware.

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Reuse and find deals

Whether it’s hunting for a wedding dress at Brides of France or old records at the Electric Fetus, it pays to check out the Hennepin County website before your next shopping trip.

The county partnered with 80 area used-goods retailers to produce its Choose to Reuse Today coupon book, which is available online or in a print version at some county buildings. Discounts at the retailers, many located in Southwest, are good through Nov. 30.

The county is promoting reuse as an easy way both save cash and benefit local businesses, while also reducing the waste sent to area landfills. About 32 million pounds of usable household goods and clothing are thrown out with the trash every year in Hennepin County, the county reports on its website.

Reuse goes beyond buying vintage clothes or used furniture. Repairing damaged items and renting infrequently used equipment are other practices that cut down on the energy needed to produce new goods.

The county’s Choose to Reuse program is in its eighth year. Last year, about 15,000 coupons were redeemed in the month of October, the county reported.

Deals include 20 percent off a purchase at B-Squad Vintage and Vinyl, 3500 Nicollet Ave. S, 10 percent off at Magers and Quinn Booksellers, 3038 Hennepin Ave. S, and 10 percent off the antiques and collectibles at Odds n Ends, 4241 Nicollet Ave. S. Those are just a few of the Southwest retailers participating in Choose to Reuse this fall.

To learn more about the program and download a coupon book, visit the Hennepin County website (hennepin.us). Coupon books also are available at Hennepin County Library locations and county service centers.

The county also shares tips for reusing online. Visit hennepin.us/environment and click on “Household” to find the Choose to Reuse directory, with listings for local businesses that rent, repair or resell goods and organizations that accept donated used goods.

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City grant fund local foods project

The Food Print Project is promoting local, low-carbon food choices with the help of a city grant.

Local nonprofit Do It Green! Minnesota launched the Food Print Project in October with a local food cook-off featuring local chefs. A second cook-off was planned for 12 p.m. Nov. 21 at the Midtown Global Market, 920 E. Lake St., featuring chef Paul Lynch of FireLake and chef Molly Hermann of Tastebud Tart.

Do It Green! Minnesota was one of seven organizations to win a 2009 Climate Change Innovation Grant from the city. The grants are worth up to $10,000 and fund local efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Do It Green! Minnesota effort is based on research showing local foods have a smaller carbon footprint than other items found in the grocery store. Local foods travel an average of 56 miles to market in the U.S., while conventional foods travel an average of 1,500, the city reported.

Visitors to the cook-off, which is free, will find low-carbon recipes and a Food Print wallet card guide to local food choices.