Action Steps


Many of us feel guilty. We don’t always clean out the jars before throwing them in recycling. We’re putting our coffee grounds and egg shells in the disposal instead of composting. We buy those individual bottles of water because they are easy to travel with. We have half-installed energy-efficient light bulbs.

But most of us don’t like the size of our heating bill in winter. Our kids are telling us to do MORE to save their planet. We know we should… but, so little time… information overload… soon…

Maybe we are part of that small percentage that cares enough about carbon emissions that we truly are making a difference in our footprint… but there are so many options. What are we supposed to know about community solar? composting? flowers that appeal to honeybees? products that have the most sustainable life cycles? We’re overwhelmed and stuck in place, despite great intentions.

The nice thing about living in Minneapolis is that there are smart people doing smart things to make it easier for all of us to contribute easily to sustainable living.

This section will help you find steps in your individual life and business that will enable you to become more MPLS Green. Including shopping tips to come…

  1. One step: if you are interested in understanding the interconnected pieces of our community and our ecosystem, check out the “Sustainable We” forums.
  2. Another step: learn from the examples of neighbors.
  3. Or: Find out what experts think we could be doing differently.

Action Steps

Minneapolis Composting

Special thanks to Lynnhurst Neighborhood Association for its excellent Minneapolis composting and recycling forum in 2015, where much of this was discussed The mixture of nitrogen-rich greens from food waste, and carbon-based browns from yard waste, combine over a six- to nine-month period to create useable compost for landscaping and road construction projects. But even…


Celebrate at Surly Brewery! A “Sustainable We” Forum

Toxins — Waste — Design — Energy A Message from Mikki Morrissette: I am sorry to report that the July 5 “Sustainable We” event will be canceled. We did not get the numbers or diversity I was looking for to have a deeper interdisciplinary, citywide discussion. We have much to celebrate in Minneapolis around sustainability,…


Which Minneapolis Farmer’s Markets Are Open Today?

The city’s 34 major Minneapolis farmer’s markets (with a few more in process) are starting to open for the 2016 season! Bookmark our page below to access fresh produce any day of the week, or print out our PDF below, which offers a handy one-pager for your refrigerator that shows local markets open by day…


The Visibility Cloak: Creating Collective Attention

At an April 19 “Sustainable We” forum, the topic was how we make the invisible visible. Discussion leaders included Sarah Super of Break the Silence, who gives voice to rape survivors partly by telling her own story… Kathleen Schuler of Healthy Legacy, who works to reduce dangerous toxins in the home… and Shalini Gupta of Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy,…


Making Things Visible: Sarah Super

What do air pollution and rape have in common? Both were the focus of conversation at “The Visibility Cloak” on Tuesday, April 19, Red Stag — what is invisible right in front of us, and what can we do about it? With so many issues begging for attention — with the sometimes overwhelming weight of white supremacy,…


Eureka Recycling: “There is no such thing as waste”

Eureka Recycling tipped its 1 billionth pound of recyclables onto the floor of its Northeast Minneapolis recovery center today – according to its data from 15 years of collection efforts. Nearly half of that material has been recycled into new products in Minnesota. For example, paper and cardboard becomes boxboard at WestRock in St. Paul, “and is back…


Action: How Can We Reduce Waste?

There were several focal points at the November 2015 “Sustainable We” forum that lend themselves to action steps Minneapolis residents can take to reduce waste. 1. Think About Your Buying Habits Recognize that waste is less about what you throw in the trash and more about what you buy. See this story for more on that conversation. As…


When People Make Toxic Tides Shift

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”  ― Margaret Mead In 2002, the Denver-based insulation company Johns Manville decided that the science (and market) around the dangers of formaldehyde were too strong to ignore, and it stopped using the chemical to make insulation. At the…


How We Protect Ourselves From Products

In 2002, Johns Manville — a Denver-based insulation manufacturer in the Berkshire Hathaway company — decided that the science (and market) around the dangers of formaldehyde were too strong to ignore, and it stopped using the chemical to make insulation. At the time, the company reported, “While there is no evidence to suggest that the level of formaldehyde released by…


What Gives Us Cancer? A Primer on Indoor Air Toxins

In educating myself about air quality issues in Minneapolis (see below for links), I’ve become more aware of what most of us don’t realize — how much toxicity we are exposed to in our own homes. Low-income communities in particular tend to be vulnerable because of multiple exposure: 1) they live in areas that have worse outdoor…


TechDump: The Electronic Waste Land

During a recent visit to TechDump‘s St. Paul location, 17-year-old Julian and 11-year-old Dylan got a tour by CEO Amanda LaGrange. She offered a snapshot of what the company does with massive mounds of e-waste, and why. Older models especially used more precious minerals in its larger components. Step 1: Collection Residents can drop off electronic waste at…


Minneapolis Recycling Guide

Spring and fall are peak times for cleaning and purging. I brought three boxes of old wires and electronics to TechDump this week, and have emptied drawers and closets of 10 bags of clothing donated to Goodwill. But what about those other items that we know should not go in the landfill? Where should they…


One Point in the Spider Web

In a recent cable TV interview (clip coming), I noted that one of the purposes of the new “Sustainable We” forums, launching October 20th, is to celebrate the people who embrace the fact that we are a part of the interconnected ecosystem — not above it, or apart from it. What are they doing that we can…

Pope Francis

Why I’m Tired of the Climate Change Discussion

By Sophia Morrissette, 16, Minneapolis, as Pope Francis prepares his talk to U.S. Congress As a teenager, I’m tired of talking about climate change. At school, I’ve seen An Inconvenient Truth about 20 times and done a project on polar bears or renewable energy sources almost every year. We’re taught that blasting hot or cool…

Insulation options

How Do We Avoid Ice Dams AND Mold?

This is the second part in a Q&A series with architect Tim Eian, of TE Studios in Northeast Minneapolis, focused on issues of building codes and insulation in Minnesota. See Part 1, about renovating older homes for energy efficiency, here. Q: Why do you think it is hard to get older codes updated for newer materials? Tim Eian:…


My Easy Steps to Sustainable Living

As the single mother of two busy kids, with a large house and several housemates, working to maintain this website and contribute as a self-employed writer to and Southwest Journal… I admittedly spend very little time with DIY projects on my house. And, I hate paperwork. Yet… I can’t very well ask Minneapolis residents to come together…

How we use our energy, according to the U.S. Energy Information Association

Do You Understand Your Home Energy Use?

Part of a series exploring Minneapolis energy efficiency and its sustainability solutions Why Should We Care About Our Home Energy? The big picture… Most of the energy we create from fossil fuels is wasted, and leads to air pollution, global warming, and health issues. (The World Health Organization reported that about 7 million people died…


Grants for Raingardens and Permeable Pavers

In addition to the benefits of raingardens — covered extensively in this Q&A with Metro Bloom’s Rich Harrison — permeable pavers can be used on driveways and patios to reduce pollution runoff to our water streams. Storm sewers that feed into our rivers and lakes naturally fill with polluted water that comes off roofs during…

1 comment

Minneapolis Energy Efficiency Loans and Rebates

Tools are fun. If you are a Centerpoint Energy customer, they offer a free tool to assess your home energy use to help you identify where you can improve efficiency and reduce costs. Find the My Energy Analyzer tool here. Within ten minutes I had plugged in some basic information and learned that 80% of…


Q&A: Metro Bloom’s Rich Harrison on Raingardens

Rich Harrison is a Registered Landscape Architect with Metro Blooms who has worked on water quality issues for more than 20 years. His degrees in urban regional planning and environmental sciences has led to a commitment to reverse the impact of humans. He aspires to help cities redevelop and grow without destroying the natural systems…