Now What?

Is this a question that has been plaguing you for the past few months or even prior to that? What can I do now to empower my community? What can I do now to empower myself? Now, more than ever people are feeling hopeless and helpless.

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However, I have found a remedy, a prescription if you will, for the nauseating feeling that creeps into my throat.

It’s called ‘involvement’.

Involvement doesn’t just mean getting out on the streets and marching, while that always has its place to show presence and importance of a cause, there is also other work to be done.

Now What?  Well, I’ll tell you what now.  Join or help a local group!  Get involved.  Being a part of Sustainable Renton has really helped me these last few months because instead of feeling like all the Jenga pieces won’t keep the structure of humanity standing, I feel that I’m still holding onto one piece and putting it back in.  Instead of hearing about the good work that schools, local charities, and non-profits do every day; be a part of the good work.  Environmental causes, education, the arts, whatever your calling is; go out and find something to be a part of and fight for.

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Sustainable Renton is always in the search of volunteers to help carry out our mission to fight for food justice and education on environmental issues. There are literally hundreds of projects that we would like to start or get the help with, but need the human power.

The power of involvement might be the only power left.

Every group and cause has this problem, but we don’t have to live with the problem.  Rather, we can cease the opportunity.

Now is the time to stop saying ‘they’ll’ take care of it.”  Who’s ‘they?’  You are now ‘they’, because we need you.

Now, more than ever, we have to remind ourselves that there still exist good people.

Our today’s, “what now” will only guarantee tomorrow’s what might have been.

If you would like to help Sustainable Renton or sign up to become a volunteer please email us at: sustainablerenton@gmail.com

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Written by Mary Bakeman, Sustainable Renton Board member

Journey to Zero Waste-Part One.

zero-waste            America, we have a problem, and that problem is waste!

On December 3rd Sustainable Renton held a discussion about how cities and individuals can become more sustainable in their waste practices. Many may not be familiar with the term ‘Zero Waste’, and a year ago, neither was I. Zero Waste is the practice and lifestyle change of well, not throwing anything away that would end up in a landfill. Anything that can be reduced, is reduced, anything that can be re-used is re-used, and I think you know where I’m going with this…anything, and I mean anything that can be recycled is recycled.  The goal of many ‘Zero Waster’s’ is really to refuse items that will end up being thrown away so their mantra is really ‘refuse, re-use, and recycle’. This post will focus on how cities can become more responsible by exploring single use plastic bag consumption, as well as how you can personally start your journey to becoming ‘Zero Waste’.

According to Recycle Across America, almost half of the food in the United States is thrown out, which equates to about 3,000lbs a second being tossed! Other disturbing facts that haunt me is that American’s recycle less than 22% of material that can be recycled or re-used, and in less than 15 years the US will double its waste production. But there is hope. By being an informed individual you can take action and make steps towards becoming more conscience about your own waste.

Individuals don’t only hold the responsibility of being more sustainable; cities could also take a hint. Just in the last few years there has been a movement to reduce the number of plastic bags that are used at groceries and retailers. Cities across Washington State have been responding to this issue. What’s so bad about plastic bags you ask? These bags are basically a huge nuisance to our recycling system since many aren’t recycled properly, and most don’t even get the opportunity to be recycled in the first place and end up in our landfill, our storm drains, and then eventually travel into our environment where they can then be ingested by wildlife. The New Yorker reported in 2014 that single use plastic grocery bags were the 7th most common item found on costal clean-ups.

Renton currently has no policy or ban on plastic bags, while other cities surrounding our area do, like Kirkland and most recently Issaquah.  After looking at these policies around our state, I wondered if plastic bag bans even work to help clean up our cities and help the waste problem. In researching this topic a study on the city of San Jose’s plastic bag policy found that it can reduce plastic grocery bags in storm drains and on beaches by 89% with a ban, and up to 60% with a fee. I would say that seems pretty worth it. For Renton to place a ban on plastic bags more research needs to be done, but hopefully looking towards other local cities we can strive and work for this in the very near future! In the meantime if you use plastic bags- please bundle the bags and return them to a local grocery store where you can then properly recycle them.

Does all of that make your head spin and feel a little helpless? Well, here’s what you can do right now.

At our talk local ‘Zero Waster’, Alison Love, gave really great advice on how to start the process to reduce ones own trash consumption. The first step is to really evaluate what you really need, and how to use it possibly in different ways. Grocery shopping for example is a great place to begin. Bringing, and using reusable bags, not only to bag everything when you’re done, but even using individual reusable produce bags can really help in the long run on cutting down waste. Buy in bulk! So many things can be found in bulk, from dry goods, spices, and even shampoo! Most local grocery stores have a bulk section, some more extensive than others, but I bet you would be surprised on what you can get and ultimately forgo most packaged products. Going Zero Waste can also be extremely financially beneficial.  In my own personal journey I haven’t bought laundry or dishwashing detergent for over a year because I now make my own. I also save my vegetable scraps to make vegetable stock for really great tasting homemade soups. Finding ways to do things differently can also be a fun challenge. Every time you run out of an item that you would normally throw in the trash, stop and think, can I reuse this, or once this item is thrown away how do I replace it with a more sustainable solution?

Resources, research, and knowledge can be your best tools as well. Apps like iRecycle use your current location from your smart-phone to help you navigate what and where you can recycle. Need to recycle used batteries, carpet, Christmas Trees, or audio equipment, use the app!

There are so many ways to re-think how you shop and re-use things and hopefully this blog is just the start that you need to explore a whole new way to really live.

In Part Two, Journey to Zero Waste, Zero Waste DIY recipes and more step by step guides will be revealed.

 

Here are links to articles that were used in this post:

Are plastic bag bans good for the climate?

http://grist.org/climate-energy/are-plastic-bag-bans-good-for-the-climate/

Recycle Across America

http://www.recycleacrossamerica.org/recycling-facts

 

 

Until next time, refuse & re-use,

Mary Bakeman

 

Could your house be a ZERO WASTE house?

Join Sustainable Renton for a wonderful workshop on practical solutions for moving towards zero waste!

December 3, 2016 – 11AM

Blossom Vegetarian

305 Burnett Ave. S., Renton, WA 98057

zero-wasteAllison Love Sheller, Renton resident and mother of two, will share her experience and knowledge about living a zero waste lifestyle. The average person creates 4.38 pounds of trash every day – that’s half a ton of garbage per year. While zero waste may seem like a high bar in our consumer culture, this workshop will provide simple, practical tips and ideas on how to reduce and reuse everyday items to dramatically reduce your household’s trash output.

This workshop comes just in time for the holidays! Allison’s suggestions on gift giving and wrapping will help you reduce your trash impact this holiday season.

Following the workshop, Sustainable Renton Board Member Mary Bakeman will talk about Sustainable Renton’s efforts to eliminate plastic bags from Renton’s resources. Just like our neighbors to the North – Seattle, Redmond and Issaquah – we are looking to initiate an ordinance to promote a plastic free city! Find out how you can get involved in making Renton a city that is truly ahead of the curve and make this ordinance come to fruition.

There is a suggested $5 donation for this workshop. Any donations received will support the continuation of Sustainable Renton projects.

Help Wanted!

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Help Wanted! Sustainable Renton has its annual elections coming up next month. Everyone is welcome. We believe in the spirit of rotation at Sustainable Renton and would love to have more folks that are passionate about Renton join our organization.

Aside from our Board positions of President, Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer needing to be filled, we would love to have people that might have a vision for our city. As a federally recognized 501c3, Sustainable Renton can help with grant writing and procuring financing to make projects happen.

Sustainable Renton also has a few projects that we need volunteers for. One is Sustainable Renton Community Farm(SRCF). This community garden is located in the East Renton Highlands neighborhood. Along with providing community garden plots, SRCF also grows food for Sustainable Renton Farm Stand. This stand makes the food that is grown available for people on a sliding scale. We need people that are willing to harvest food, set-up the booth, man the booth and complete tear down twice a month on the first and third Fridays from June through September from the hours of 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.. The Farm Stand is erected in front of the Renton Senior Center located at 211 Burnett Ave N. Renton, WA 98057

Another project that will be taking form in 2017 is the Little Mountain Community Garden located in the Earlington Hill neighborhood. The plan for this property is to make a community garden and food forest to help further our efforts towards food justice in Renton.

There will be a number of work parties held throughout the year that will provide multiple opportunities for people to help out.

Also, we love to have workshops and educational seminars for our community at a low to no cost price. If you have a talent or an expertise that you think might fit our organization’s vision and would like to use our platform for promotion, please let us know.

Our Board meeting will be held on December 15th at 6 pm. Our meeting is currently held at one of our members’ homes. Please contact sustainablerenton@gmail.com for more information.

Fermentation is Good for Your Gut

fermented-veggies  On November 5th Sustainable Renton is excited to partner with Red House restaurant in downtown Renton to bring you a workshop on basic fermentation techniques.

Fermenting has been practiced for ages around the world as a way to preserve food, enhance flavor and add nutritional value. Fermented foods are literally alive with flavor and are very beneficial to one’s health. This workshop will be led by Sustainable Renton members Scott Kriedermacher and Rachel Rourke. Scott and Rachel are passionate about food justice especially concerning topics related to food preservation, gleaning, and homegrown produce.

This basic workshop will focus on two types of ferments. We will show how to make Kefir as well as a sauerkraut-type of vegetable ferment.

Vegetables are fermented using salt brine that gives them a delicious tart pickled flavor and dramatically enhances their shelf life. Brine protects against unfavorable microorganisms while creating an ideal environment for the beneficial bacteria strains that add wonderful flavor as well as to create a healthy environment for our gut and aid in our bodies in digestion.

Kefir is a fermented milk product somewhat like a drinkable yogurt. This delicious and nutritious drink uses grains that are colonies of yeast and numerous types of beneficial bacteria one of which being the lacto-bacilli culture many are familiar with. These kefir grains look like curds and are strained out after the fermentation occurs. They can then be added to new milk to start another batch of kefir or eaten like cheese curds. They are savory and delicious atop rice and curry as is the kefir itself delicious.

For those who are new to fermentation this is the perfect workshop to trip your taste buds. You will leave with enough knowledge, basic recipes, supplies and the confidence to experiment in your own kitchen. For only $5 per ferment you may take home your own starters that we will make together.

Please let us know if you are coming by going to our Facebook event page here https://www.facebook.com/events/152171158579977/  and click the ‘going’ button or drop an email to sustainablerenton@gmail.com before November 4th. We look forward to learning together and sharing this vital knowledge with you!

4th Annual Harvest Mayhem

stacked_4colorOn August 6th, 2016 marks the 4th Annual Harvest Mayhem. This event is Sustainable Renton’s Annual fundraiser. It has grown exponentially over the years and this year will prove the biggest event yet. We will be featuring an Art Market highlighting local artists with a variety of talents to showcase. We will be hosting a Barter Fair. You can bring canned goods, food, or homemade and handmade items-anything you want to share. We will feature local musicians throughout the day. Tractor rides will be available. Face Painting. We will feast on a Stone Soup luncheon. One vegetarian and one non-vegetarian soup will be prepared on the fire. Bring what you want to put in the pot and/or place on the table and bring your own utensils and dinnerware too. This event is FREE and open to the public.

There will be a silent auction and a raffle. All proceeds to help Sustainable Renton with its mission of fostering a healthier community and planet. The schedule is as follows:

The entire event will run from 11-4pm. The Barter Fair will be from 11-12pm The Art Market 11-4pm Stone Soup will be at 2 pm. Musicians will perform from 11-4pm.

This event is held at Sustainable Renton Community Farm located behind Celebration Church at 11840 148th Ave SE Renton, WA 98059

Harvest Mayhem cannot be sold, but we can be traded

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I am excited to announce that next weekend Sustainable Renton will be holding it’s annual barter fair!! This is a way for community members to mingle and trade handmade and homegrown goods. This is my most favorite part of the Harvest Mayhem Festival because it is a wonderful opportunity to meet local artisans while offloading things I have made or harvested in abundance and get some fun free stuff as well! If you love free stuff like I do then you will LOVE the barter fair! Please come and share the bounty. Do not forget to tell all your friends because the more people that show up the better the barter opportunities will be!!
Some things I have gained in past barter events are kombucha scoby, plants, seeds, homegrown herbs, spices and teas and local art. Some things I have brought for trade are plants, soap, baked goods, and jewelry. Other ideas for bartering include anything you have made or built, extra harvest from your garden(edible or medicinal), things you have canned, ferments, pickles artwork or skills.
I can’t wait to see what people will bring! I will have plants and some other surprises to trade.
The Barter fair will be held from. 11-Noon during our Harvest Mayhem Festival which runs 11-4 August 6th. There will be lots of fun for the whole family including tractor rides, music, art market, stone soup and more! So come bring your friends and your goods to trade  and spend the afternoon at the farm.

This event will be at Sustainable Renton Community Farm located behind Celebration Church at 11840 148th Ave SE Renton, WA 98059