Dumpster Diving is not Illegal

dumpsterdiveAfter the great turn out to the showing of the documentary film Just Eat It, which highlighted the grotesque amount of food that is thrown into the dumpsters across America, the question arose, “Is it legal to salvage food from dumpsters?” I had to admit that I did not know the answer but that I would find out.
The City of Renton Police Department stated that there is no law that exists that would prohibit dumpster diving. You cannot go onto residential property and take things from a dumpster, but commercial properties such as restaurants, grocery stores or bakeries are open market for divers. Salvaging items for resale is illegal but salvaging food for personal consumption is not.
The woman on the phone did say that to be safe she recommended just asking the business if they would mind if their throw away food was taken away instead of thrown away. Seems like a good idea. Happy diving!

Are you a game changer?


While browsing through websites on Transition Town Initiatives I stumbled upon this seven minute video. After watching it I felt compelled to share it with all of you. I have felt frustrated with my efforts at times when it seems that there is no momentum at large and at other times when I cannot seem to live up to my own individual philosophical convictions. This video explains why I feel that way and what might be able to be done about it. It reminded me that what WE are trying to do at Sustainable Renton is exactly the thing that is the solution to our problem-to work in our local communities to effect a positive change and to move towards a more resilient, self-sufficient city, rather than a dependent one. Here is a link to that video: http://storyofstuff.org/movies/story-of-change/  After viewing the short it will take you to a quiz to find out what kind of game changer you are. I was informed that I am a nurturer. I’m not sure how I feel about that, I think I might rather leave the nurturing to others and I’ll be in the forefront changing the rules of how the games are played, but it’s nice to be effective at both I guess.

One idea that has been mentioned at our Board meetings is to make Sustainable Renton a Transition Initiative. If you are unfamiliar with this idea then you can go here to find out more: http://transitionus.org/transition-101

Here is a snippet from the website to pique your curiosity:

“The Transition Movement is comprised of vibrant, grassroots community initiatives that seek to build community resilience in the face of such challenges as peak oil, climate change and the economic crisis. Transition Initiatives differentiate themselves from other sustainability and “environmental” groups by seeking to mitigate these converging global crises by engaging their communities in home-grown, citizen-led education, action, and multi-stakeholder planning to increase local self reliance and resilience.”

If, after finding out more, you want to get involved in what Sustainable Renton might be doing please come to our Board meeting held on the third Thursday of every month at 7 pm or contact us at sustainablerenton@gmail.com and someone will get back with you.

In the meantime, do good work.

Lara Randolph

Co-President/Sustainable Renton

Tess the Gardener


Here is a brief introduction to Tess, the Gardener. I first met Tess at the Meaningful Movies of Renton events; she has been a loyal supporter of them from the beginning. Over time we have come to know each other as like minded neighbors that want to make a positive change in our community.





I had the pleasure of visiting Tess’ house the other day. When I parked in front of her house located in the Renton Highlands area, I was immediately struck by how the yard has been replaced by garden space to grow things. She had a multitude of berries and bulbs, kale and collards. She confessed to having been influenced by the recent permaculture workshop, led by Laura Sweany, to change the shape of her current garden bed into something a little more in tune with nature-she went from planting in a traditional row pattern to creating a spiral gardening bed. This shape lends itself to more cohesion towards how plants might grow in the wild. This is also a great strategy for confusing pests that may want to attack one crop, for if that crop is sprinkled together with other crops, than the damage is greatly reduced.


Of course, I noticed the peace sign made from brick that had been incorporated into her walkway through her yard. My kids loved it too.

Tess had chickens in her back yard and two compost systems-one used for kitchen scraps and the other for chicken manure.

I was also blessed to get a taste of Tess’ homemade chili-yummy.

I have to say that this is a shining example of one of the products of being involved with Sustainable Renton-community.

Although it was a short visit I was left with the feeling that we were more connected to one another and how absolutely grateful I am to belong to an organization that fosters a healthier community through fostering healthier relationships with our neighbors.


A x B = ?


While attending a social media workshop this past weekend, the word “product” came up several times as the message was geared towards small business owners. At the beginning of the session, the instructor advised us to work with the ideas presented and fit them into our own personal situation. But, Sustainable Renton doesn’t have a tangible “product” that we can advertise per se. We don’t have videos of folks taste testing our homemade brews. We don’t have photos of kids with our t-shirts on. We don’t have artistic renditions of our pets for sale. So, what then, is Sustainable Renton’s “product”?

While looking in Merriam-Webster, one definition of the word product is: the number or expression resulting from the multiplication together of two or more numbers or expressions. This is obviously a mathematical definition of the word, but I think it fits for what we have to offer.  Our product comes after our hard work.  Our product is the result of two or more people gathering together for a common purpose and to make something amazing happen. We offer the ability to create something larger than individuals are capable of creating alone-a type of multiplication process.

Our product, so far, has been the emergence of a Community Farm. This was an amazing effort by a group of individuals that came together to create a space where food can be grown and community can be built.

We have the beginnings of the Renton Food Co-Op-an effort that will bring a place for people to buy local and organic foods and become more educated about how to live healthier lives.

We have Meaningful Movies of Renton-a once a month gathering of folks that watch a documentary film and have roundtable community discussions about the topic discussed.

We have the Sustainable Renton Study Group which is a once a month meeting of folks who want to learn about the systemic reasons for the dilemmas that our planet faces and are discussing how to take positive action to help create change and live a more sustainable life.

From the very first meeting between Chris Conkling and Michelle Kelley in August of 2010, Sustainable Renton has stayed true to its mission and that is to foster a healthier community and planet. Our Board has grown, our ideas have taken shape, we have learned a lot and are anxious to continue to make things happen in Renton. With more people showing up and offering their skills and time to our organization, our ability to reach more people in our community grows.

So, if you would like to be a part of the magnificence of multiplication that is occurring at Sustainable Renton we would love to hear from you. The best part about the products that we offer is that they are free and available to any who want it.

Meaningful Movies of Renton presents

On Friday, January 31, Meaningful Movies of Renton presents An Exploration of Alternative Economics: Two perspectives on Money, Economics, and Radical Trust.

First, we present Charles Eisenstein on Sacred Economics. Sacred Economics traces the history of money from ancient gift economies to modern capitalism, revealing how the money system has contributed to alienation, competition, and scarcity, destroyed community, and necessitated endless growth.

Today, these trends have reached their extreme – but in the wake of their collapse, we may find great opportunity to transition to a more connected, ecological, and sustainable way of being.

Second, we present musician Amanda Palmer on The Art of Asking. Today, many people are trading music for free and record companies as well as some musicians are up in arms about it. Amanda Palmer has a different perspective.

Don’t make people pay for music, says Amanda Palmer: Let them. In a passionate talk that begins in her days as a street performer, she examines the new relationship between artist and fan.

Summing up her business model, in which she views her recorded music as the digital equivalent of street performing, she says: “I firmly believe in music being as free as possible. Unlocked. Shared and spread. In order for artists to survive and create, their audiences need to step up and directly support them.”

“A lot of people are confused by the idea of no hard sticker price [on my music]. They see it as an unpredictable risk, but I see it as trust.”

Moving beyond the environmental and economic crises we face requires an new approach to economics. After the two films, we will discuss ways to move away from the economics of separation to an economics of connection and radical trust.

Come join us for what should be an invigorating and inspiring conversation. We need your voice.

This event is held at the Sustainable Renton Office located in the Renton Highlands neighborhood at 970 Harrington Ave NE Renton 98056

Hope to see you there.