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 as a community in a more sustainable way without cataloging what I am doing myself.

So, I’ll keep readers posted here on what I am doing personally on behalf of Minneapolis sustainability — and how I did it. Please use the Reply field below to include your own tips of how you’ve re-designed your life with environmentally sound practices.

spring compost binfall compost bin

1. Backyard Composting

My first conscious step was in Spring 2014, when I drove to the Hennepin County Drop-Off Facility in Brooklyn Park and purchased, for $45, a compost bin that the kids and I assembled one afternoon for our backyard. Since then, we’ve been dropping in leaf and yard waste, along with all organic garbage (eggshells, fruit peels, etc.). Like a clown car, we seem to keep filling it and the pile never spills over. We weren’t ready to use the compost dirt for garden plants this year (instead collecting ours from the Linden Hills spring festival), but look forward to seeing what we’ve created for use in Spring 2016. Learn more about composting here.

2. Disposing of Hazardous Waste

While at the Brooklyn Park facility, I handed off more than a dozen old paint cans that had collected from household projects over the years. Learn more about hazardous garbage disposal — including electronics — here.

3. Replacing Old Appliances

out with the 1970s A/CI called Sustainable Resources Center, a non-profit that works for families that qualify for energy assistance. They provided me with several LED light bulbs, and replaced a very non-energy efficient A/C unit that had been in the wall of this house likely since the 1970s, and another old hand-me-down window unit, with two much more efficient models.

4. Energy Efficiency Audit

I contacted one independent organization that helps provide affordable energy efficiency solutions to homes, but they never returned my second call to set up an actual appointment for the audit. So I contacted Sustain Max, which was helpful on the phone and honest about the fact that they had so much work scheduled that they wouldn’t be able to do an audit for quite some time. Having previously had a basic Home Energy Squad visit from one of the utilities, I opted instead to pay $75 to Center for Energy & Environment, and was able to schedule a two-hour audit for two weeks out. I’ll keep you posted on the results.

Here is what CEE tells me about my upcoming audit: “Thank you for signing up for a Home Energy Squad visit. Congratulations on joining over 7,000 of your neighbors who have participated so far. The program is offered through the City of Minneapolis, and program services are provided by the Center for Energy and Environment. To save you money, we’ll install energy-saving materials during your home visit, and also make it easy for you to improve your home’s insulation if needed afterward.”

Coming Up

I am in the process of trying to qualify for a Center for Energy & Environment loan. It took me about 10 minutes to fill out an online application at But before I can go any further, I need to have: 1) an audit so I know what is needed, then 2) a quote from a company that would do the work.

My goal is to be able to afford to put in permeable pavers in my considerable driveway (small Minnehaha Watershed grants for my area are available in June 2016) and install improved energy efficiency in my 112-year-old, four-story house.

— Mikki Morrissette, founder,



  2 comments for “My Easy Steps to Sustainable Living

  1. Leslie MacKenzie
    March 1, 2016 at 9:44 pm

    I predict you will love the enhanced energy audit. It is a great service.

    • mikki
      March 1, 2016 at 9:51 pm

      I did the audit, and it was great. Unfortunately, I could not get the 0% financing option the City was offering through CEE — not enough income in this non-profit world I’m in — so rather than incur credit card debt, I made no changes this winter to my energy efficiency after all. This is one reason I’m in favor of Timothy DenHerder-Thomas and team’s on-bill financing options, so that those who need the cost savings most aren’t penalized by debt/income ratios that don’t relate to their ability to pay monthly utility bills.

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