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

Goumi-A fantastic plant for the Permaculture garden or mixed border! By Rachel Rourke

goumi berry2Elaeagnus Multiflora commonly known as Goumi, gumi, cherry elaeagnus, cherry silverberry and natsugumi is a beautiful and useful plant that deserves recognition. Goumi is a small to medium fairly dense shrub that is native to eastern Asia. It is deciduous to semi evergreen depending on the zone in which it is planted.

Why should I grow goumi, you ask? There are many great reasons  I will share with you here.
First off, goumi is a really beautiful plant with a lot going for it ornamentally. The silvery undersides of the leaves have a shimmery effect in the breeze. If you are a plant nerd like me then that would be reason alone to grow goumi but, behold there is a plethora of greatness this plant has to offer. The flowers are some of the first to bloom in my garden in April. They are pungent with an aroma reminiscent of lilac or Jasmine and are a great source of nectar attracting pollinators such as mason orchard bees. It also does a great job of providing food to wildlife such as birds as the unharvested fruit will remain on the bush well into winter.
This plant is easy to cultivate and grows well in a variety of conditions. It does best on sun but will tolerate partial shade. It even tolerates salt water making it an ideal choice for maritime conditions.
One of the best qualities this plant has to offer the gardener is it’s ability to pull nitrogen from the air and put it into the soil via it’s roots improving fertility making it a excellent choice in the Permaculture garden or food forest as a part of the shrub layer. The unique nitrogen fixing abilities this plant has allows it to send nitrogen into the soil making it readily available to nearby plants. Orchards that have used goumi to aid in adding nitrogen to the soil have reported a ten percent increase in fruit tree production!
Finally, a single plant will produce thousands of edible berries! The berries are round to oval, about one cm long, orange with silvery scales ripening to a dotted red. They are somewhat tart with a flavor that is a cross between a cranberry, rhubarb and and pomegranate. Each berry has a single seed that is edible but fibrous. Though tart, they can be eaten fresh when ripe. Under ripe fruit can be left for wildlife or can be picked and made into syrup that can be frozen and used along side pancakes or french toast or added to sparkling water to make a divine shrub beverage. It can also be used in baking pies or making fruit leather or in canned goods like preserves, jams, and jellies. The berries are high in fats, proteins and vitamins A and E.  Now that you know of the many benefits, I hope many of you will choose goumi for your gardens. To your fruitful harvesting!!

Rachel Rourke lives in the Skyway neighborhood located between south Seattle and Renton with her husband, daughter, dogs and chickens. She and her husband provide eco-friendly garden design, maintenance and consulting. Rachel can be reached at myhealingart@gmail.com or by phone (206)554-1619

Sustainable Renton is Growing-literally

018   A few months back, Rhoda Green, an Earlington Hill resident, contacted Sustainable Renton to see if we might be interested in collaborating with her to make another community garden spot in our city.

This location is under the power lines adjacent to City View Church at 200 SW Langston Rd, Renton, WA 98057.  This land is allocated as plot #27 on a Duwamish Tribal map and is named ‘Spah-bah-DEED’ – ‘Little Mountain’.  Seattle City Light (SCL) also has a right of way as the utility in charge of the overhead power lines. Rhoda has made contact with the tribe and they have consented to giving their blessing for us to use this land. SCL also loved the idea of letting us use this land for something other than open space, they had already been working with Rhoda who states, “We started our project near the foot of the mountain in 2007 by putting together a joint agreement with property owners. We received a Renton City [Neighborhood] Grant allowing us to landscape the area with drought tolerant, low maintenance native plants and install a ‘Welcome to Earlington Hill Neighborhood’ sign.”  Rhoda, with the help of SCL and volunteers has been able to create a beautifully restored space using native plants such as Vine Maple, Twinberry, Serviceberry, NW Iris, Camas, Mock Orange, Sumac, Salal, Willow, Evergreen Huckleberry, Mountain Strawberries, Redtwig Dogwood, Flowering Current and Sword Ferns. Rhoda states, “That creates a lovely scene to accommodate the entrance to the Earlington Hill neighborhood [via Langston Road].”

As an extension of the hard work Rhoda et al. have put into this space, Sustainable Renton has agreed to act as the umbrella non-profit that will oversee the garden. SR will be offering our expertise and labor to help make this garden a reality. Not only does using this land for our community help our city, it helps the utility company with not having to maintain the space.

A lot of land located under power lines is available for lease if it is not being used already. There is a simple permit process to make sure that the land will not be used for the purpose of profit and that the organization or individual presenting the project has an idea of what they are doing. Standing at our proposed garden spot, facing North, there is 25 miles of power line land that is potentially available for use. Some patches are being utilized already along this corridor; however, this land is largely underutilized. It would be ideal land for urban agricultural movements to take advantage of.

One of our concerns is the power lines being so close and the possible risk factors involved. There are a lot of studies that have been conducted concerning growing food under power lines. So far, the evidence has been inconclusive. Because the food is not there for an extended period time the effects of the EMF’s (electro-magnetic field) is nil. There is some proof of EMF’s affecting trees that grow tall enough to come in proximity of the wires, but this is not the case for low growing food crops.

Sustainable Renton will be installing garden beds available for community use, and a food forest for folks to forage from. The remaining food will be used for our Farm Stand. These projects will help meet Sustainable Renton’s goal of providing local organically grown produce to multiple communities at reasonable rates.

There will be a ceremony honoring this land and our purposes on May 2nd at 11 a.m. All are welcome.

Sustainable Renton is thrilled to be expanding our reach to help our city and is looking forward to a fruitful and prosperous venture with the The Little Mountain Garden and Earlington Hill Neighborhood.

For more information on this project or to find out how you can get involved please contact sustainablerenton@gmail.com or the garden site manager Rhoda Green at 425-652-7699.

 

 

 

Meaningful Movies of Renton

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If you have attended one or more of our showings, you have experienced the awesomeness that is Meaningful Movies of Renton. We at Sustainable Renton, believe in critical thinking and building community via film and discussion. We aim to educate and inspire folks to live more sustainably and consciously. If you, or anyone you know, are interested in sponsoring this event in any way, we could use your support. We currently hold our events at Carco Theater. We love this venue and want to remain there. It costs us more than we currently are able to pay. However, if just a few folks stepped up and decided it was important enough to support, we could keep our venue and keep hosting this amazing event once a month. If you are able to help, please visit our website www.sustainablerenton.org and make your tax-deductible donation today. You can specify in a note that the funds are to be allocated to support Meaningful Movies of Renton. Thank you in advance.

Meaningful Movies of Renton is asking

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Sustainable Renton is a small 501c3 organization that has a project called Meaningful Movies of Renton. This is a monthly event that is FREE and open to the public. We show documentary films on topics that pertain to various aspects of sustainability such as water pollution, organic farming, fossil fuel dependency, plastic waste, food waste, consumerism, etc. We are also a part of a larger movement called the Meaningful Movies Project. There are multiple locations throughout the Puget Sound area. For more info on films outside of Renton visit here www.meaningfulmovies.org

Our current venue is at Carco Theater located just outside of the downtown Renton area. This is a beautiful theater that has served Renton for over 40 years. It is easily accessible by foot or bus and is an ideal setting for our events.

We have collaborated with other organizations such as The City of Renton, The Sierra Club, Puget Sound Beekeepers Association, 350.org, People for Puget Sound and many more to bring knowledgeable and competent panels for intelligent discussions.

We are currently seeking sponsorship for this project. The theater itself is a small non-profit that cannot afford to donate their space and/or time to us so we are in need of financial support from our community. This support will make it possible to continue our efforts of bringing an educational and community oriented events to Renton. This event brings like-minded folks together and encourages citizens to take action for a better future for our city.

If you are interested in sponsoring this project there are a number of levels to choose from.

Level I-one time donation of any amount

Level II-donation of any amount for 3 consecutive months

Level III-donation of any amount for 6 consecutive months Your company, business or organization’s name or logo will be added to our website, on any promotional materials and be featured on our pre screening slide show that is displayed prior to each film.

You can mail your donation directly to

Sustainable Renton

c/o Lara Randolph

1427 Queen Ave NE Renton, Wa 98056

Attn. Meaningful Movies

You can donate on our website www.sustainablerenton.org using the secure PayPal button. Simply indicate that the funds are designated for our Meaningful Movies Project and they will be directed to that purpose.

If you have any further questions please feel free to contact us at sustainablerenton@gmail.com