Something Borrowed, Something Blue, Something Old, Something Used:
By Heidi Andermack, Owner, Chowgirls Killer Catering
Wedding season is high upon us. With all the festivities comes a lot of stuff…. stuff for decorating, stuff for eating, stuff for drinking, stuff for gifts, stuff for everything imaginable. As owner of Chowgirls, a sustainably minded catering company, we love working with couples who are thoughtful about their environmental footprint when planning their weddings.
One such couple gave LED lightbulbs as their favors. Another offered fire-starter pinecones — lovingly scavenged on their parents’ property and wax dipped by the family — that served as decorations as well as favors. A few brides and grooms have provided home-canned pickles or jams packed in ball jars that were found at rummage sales.
The wedding tabletop lends itself to reused or rented items. For shabby-chic farm weddings, jam jars make great drinking glasses and votive candle holders. Mismatched assortments of vintage china and flatware from thrift stores are trending in restaurants now, and they also make for a sweet table setting at a wedding reception. For the bride and groom favoring more contemporary flair, we highly recommend working with a rental company for the latest glassware, dishes, flatware, and linens. Either way — sourcing used or renting — choosing the real deal is the more sustainable than using disposables, even if they are recyclable or compostable.
There are many options for clothing that are sustainable too. A sentimental favorite is seeing a bride walk down the aisle in her mother’s wedding gown. While that’s not always an option, there are second-hand stores that can outfit a bride and her maids as well. For guys, it’s even easier, they can just go to the same place where they rented their prom tuxedo.
For décor, more and more boutique rental companies are popping up in the Twin Cities, offering unique furniture and accessories. Perhaps you’d like to host your cocktail hour in a Mid-Century Modern lounge with a sleek leather couch and Danish side tables. Or maybe you’re more into an antique look with a Victorian velvet fainting couch and elaborate candelabras. Whatever your tastes, there are niche stylists salvaging and restoring fabulous furnishings, sharing them so they can be appreciated again and again.
Gift ideas for the eco-minded bride and groom are trending toward crowd-sourced financial gifts for travel or charity. But a similarly funded down-payment on a reused house or even a vintage furniture piece in the couple’s style would also be appreciated sustainable gifts.
With thoughtful planning and good intentions, re-using can be a great way to make your event unique and memorable. Consider it a smart and sexy alternative to the wasteful whimsy that’s so easy to find most anywhere.
ReUSE Minnesota Will Meet in Duluth on May 25th
We’re collaborating with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), and the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District (WLSSD) to host a networking meeting for representatives from reuse, rental and repair businesses at the Duluth Public Library in the Green Room on Thursday, May 25
The informal meeting will introduce ReUSE Minnesota to businesses the Duluth area, facilitate business-to-business networking, and brainstorm ideas for promoting reuse in greater Minnesota.
ReUSE Minnesota’s membership includes of a wide range of businesses from used book, antique and thrift stores to bike, appliance and engine repair shops, and extends to rental and second-hand building material centers. We’re looking forward to growing our numbers in Duluth.
“Our state’s reuse economy generated over $10 billion in sales in 2015 and we want to see it continue to grow,” notes Madalyn Cioci of ReUSE Minnesota and the MPCA. “By connecting businesses in the sector, we can help each other and work together to create more even momentum around reuse, rental and repair.”
“The mission of ReUSE Minnesota aligns with our own goals to protect natural resources and can offer valuable support to area businesses,” notes Sarah Lerohl of WLSSD.
ReUSE Minnesota has hosted similar gatherings in Saint Paul and Clay County in the past year. This is their first event in Duluth. The meeting is free and open to all. More information is available here: https://www.facebook.
A Few Numbers to Celebrate Earth Month
Guest blog post by Tim Roman, Ecotone Analytics GBC
Earth Day was established on April 22, 1970 in the United States and since then, the celebration and acknowledgement of our fragile planet has grown and evolved to include the entire month and people around the world. It’s estimated that one billion people participate in Earth Day activities.
ReUSE Minnesota welcomes the attention to the environment that Earth Day generates. My fellow members work hard to create reuse, repair and rental opportunities for people so that we can extend the useful life of raw materials, reduce the waste stream, and mitigate the effects of manufacturing and transportation on Minnesota’s environment.
Their efforts pay off. Firstly, the reuse economy generated an estimated 77,800 job for the state of Minnesota in 2015 and a little over $10 billion in economic activity. Equally important is the fact that the reuse economy helps the environment in measurable ways.
For example, in 2016 Junket Tossed and Found sold 6.2 tons of goods that might well have ended up in Minnesota landfills. Furthermore, the sale of those goods avoided the generation of 31 metric tons of carbon dioxide, a definite win for the planet!
These measures matter, because they go beyond the activities of April 22nd and can have a lasting impact.
In 2015, our client Better Futures Minnesota, in partnership with the Northwest Indian Opportunity Industrialization Center (NWIOIC) in Bemidji, and the Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) at the University of Minnesota - Duluth, was given a pilot study grant to model and measure the effects of “deconstruction” of residential buildings (taking them apart and saving the materials for reuse, then recycling the remainder) versus traditional “smash and landfill” demolition. The goal was to observe and measure the effects on greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction from diversion from landfill.
The data revealed that there was a “pareto” effect between recycling and reuse in relation to GHG avoidance. That about 80% of the GHG reduction effects were from material reclamation for reuse, versus about 20% from recycling. These finding support policies that incentivize reuse over recycling, an important piece of information for municipalities. In fact, based on this project, Better Futures has been recognized as the 2017 recipient of the award for sustainable business by the Environmental Initiative.
So, the numbers matter, on Earth Day and every day. Please keep counting.
Tim Roman is a co-founder of Ecotone Analytics, GBC, which specializes in helping organizations measure, manage, and communicate their social, environmental, and business impacts.