Tuesday, 30 July 2013

How do YOU make it REUSABLE contest!

We often wonder what our customers do/make with items they buy in our store. We have a lot of creative, imaginative customers and frankly, we're curious!

So we decided to put together a contest to showcase our customers' reuse creativity! We are asking you to submit your favourite way to Reuse items on the Reuse Centre accepted items list.  We want to see all the wacky, creative, fun, useful or innovative ways you use the items on our list. All entries will be posted on our Facebook page and the winner will get profiled on our Reuse-it Edmonton blog.

Here is how to enter: Submit photos and a short blurb (up to 200 words) of how you have reused the items found on the Reuse Centre accepted items list to hayley.orton@edmonton.ca before the deadline of Friday, August 16th. Please include your name, email address and phone number in your submission (your last name, email address, phone number will not be published).

All entries will judged by our panel of Reuse experts on the entry’s creativity, innovation and reusability. The panel will decide on a winner who will be notified by email or by phone. 

Prize: Our winner will get profiled on our Reuse-it Edmonton Blog and also be awarded a Reuse Centre gift basket (to be picked up at the Centre). The profile about the winner and his/her winning entry will be posted on our blog on Monday, August 26th.

Rules: ALL entries must contain original images taken by the submitter. All photos submitted will be posted on our Facebook account during the contest. All entries must contain items from the Reuse Centre accepted items list. This competition is open to only those living in Edmonton Capital Region. 

If you want a good starting point, scroll down for some inspiration we’ve put together!

Good Luck and Happy Reusing!

Christmas decorations made from frozen juice can lids

Using baskets, coffee cans and shoe boxes for storage
Using various items including magazines, carpet and buttons to make pieces of art
(inspired by the visual artist Lee Gainer)

Little owls made from paper towel rolls, 
monster bookmarks, popsicle stick airplanes 
and fish made from CD's
- Reuse-it Edmonton Blogger team

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Sea sun's greetings from the Reuse Centre!

While we may still be just over five months away from the traditional Christmas holiday, there are some countries in the southern hemisphere that actually celebrate Christmas in July! For these countries July can actually be their coldest month, while December falls in the peak of summer.  By gathering friends and family to celebrate Christmas in July, residents south of the equator can enjoy the kind of Christmas atmosphere that we get to experience up here.  Christmas in July celebrations can include social parties, Christmas trees, and decorations.
There's no reason why residents of the northern hemisphere can't get in on the fun!  Here in Canada, celebrating Christmas in July is a unique way to gather your friends and loved ones close for laid-back parties and BBQs to mark the halfway point to Christmas.  The best part is that any ornaments or decorations you may make for your Christmas in July parties can be reused again at Christmas!  The following ideas really just scratch the surface of Christmas in July projects and general Christmas crafts, but they can help get the ball rolling for your summer parties or December prep.

1) Christmas Wreaths: For me, the first thing that goes up at Christmas is the wreath on my front door.  But sometimes the fake pine needles fall all over the place, or the pinecones flake off, and I'm just generally left with a big mess and a sad wreath.  Here's a great solution: no fake needles, no pinecones - just a shaped coat hanger and some evenly-cut scraps of paper.  You could maybe try and make this even more special by cutting up your old Christmas cards for a punch of colour and some words of love.

2) Paper Snowflakes:  You can't go wrong with putting up snowflakes when decorating for a Christmas event.  Unfortunately, if you're like me, you can go seriously wrong trying to cut them up.  Here are some great step-by-step instructions for cutting out paper snowflakes.  Paper snowflakes can also be used to embellish cards, party invitations or gift tags.  You could try cutting them from old book or magazine pages, and maybe even run some string through them and create an easy garland!

3) Felt Decorations:  Whether you find scraps of felt material in your basement cupboards, or pick some up at the Reuse Centre, you can make quick, easy, and adorable felt ornaments for your tree, your home, or your gifts in a few easy steps.  Here is a great collection of more than 20 felt Christmas ornaments from Better Homes & Gardens with links and instructions for assembly.

4) Christmas Crackers:  Growing up with an English grandmother, traditional Christmas crackers were a constant at our Christmas dinner table.  Typical store bought crackers can be expensive, and usually include very cheap toys and really bad jokes.  It is possible, however, to create your own!  You can almost make these entirely of things you probably already have lying around at home, with the exception of the cracker snaps you'll need to make the crackers "pop" when they're pulled.  If you take the time to make these yourself, you can put meaningful messages and surprises in your crackers for a personalized touch.  This would be a great way to use all of those random scraps of wrapping paper that everyone keeps to use later, and then it never happens.

5) Christmas Card Projects:  Reusing old Christmas cards for crafts is a revolutionary idea for me, and it's the perfect solution for dealing with the multitude of cards that collect over the years.  From garlands, to wall art, to candle holders and more, the possibilities of what you can do with old cards are endless.  I found a great collection of ideas from Better Homes & Gardens for ways that you can upcycle your old cards into decorations for any Yuletide festivities.  Try any of these, and make those old season's greetings and messages of love a permanent part of your Christmas holidays.

Calvin Coolidge once said that "Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind."  So whether you're planning a summer Yuletide celebration, or getting a head-start on December, I would like to wish our Reuse-It readers all the joy and wonder of the season.  Sea sun's greetings, everyone!

- Nichole (Volunteer)

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Journey through the Ages: The History of the Reuse Centre Accepted Items List

The Reuse Centre turned 6 years old on July 6th and what a great time to reminisce on how far the Reuse Centre has come! The most significant change that the Reuse Centre has undergone is the evolution of our list of acceptable items for donation.
We get questions about why our acceptable items list contains the items it does, so we though we would compile a bit of a history for our readers.

Flashback to early 2007 (before the Reuse Centre grand opening).  The question being tackled was: what to include in the Reuse Centre accepted items list? One starting point was the items collected at the successful once a year Reuse Fairs held in various Edmonton communities. These fairs collected various and select items for schools, daycares and community organizations and it seemed natural to include the vast majority of these items on our list.

A typical Reuse Fair 
These items, like milk bottle caps and bread bag tags, were items not available for reuse elsewhere so it also helped that that Reuse Centre could fill this recognized gap. This reasoning also determined why we decided not to take certain items. For instance, clothes, blankets, toys were not included because there were a large number of organizations that already took them.

The Detailed List of Accepted Items
So, these items were compiled together and the first list was created. At the beginning, the list was a whopping 4 pages long! It consisted of a brief summarized list of items and a more comprehensive detailed list.

Fast forward to 2008. We decided that having two lists was redundent, so we downsized and consolidated the two versions into one.  Going from our original four-page list to a one page durable list just made sense considering we are in the business of making environmentally conscious decisions. 

2009-2010 The list went through more revisions, including organizing items into categories as well as adding and removing items as the demand for items changed. For example, onion bags and panty hose were removed and cables and video games were added.
Compact and user friendly                              
In 2012, the list went over a bit of a make-over. This brighter, more colourful list is presented in a more user friendly format, and includes the Reuse image of the City of Edmonton Waste Management Services. 

Making Reuse easy
The accepted items list has served us very well over the last six years at the Reuse Centre and it has been supported by our customers with every incarnation. Over the last six years we have had over 725 tonnes of materials dropped off and over 500 tonnes purchased by 105,000 customers. Way to go, Edmonton!

Share with us in the comment section your favourite items to buy at the Reuse Centre!

 - Vanessa (Volunteer) & Hayley (Staff)

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Trash Talking - An Examination of Edmonton's Recycling Habits

In May of this year, Edmonton's Avenue Magazine ran an article by Sydnee Bryant, entitled "Trash Talking".  In this article, Bryant examines Edmonton's waste and recycling habits in the larger context of Canada's reputation for over-consumption, as well as the future direction of this city's recycling program.

Did you know that, situated across 233 hectares of land, Edmonton's Waste Management Centre is also North America's largest
waste management centre?  This may be surprising, given Canada's comparatively low population density (3.41 people/sq km in 2011 vs. say, Japan at 337.1 people/sq km) however the Conference Board of Canada has assessed our nation as deserving a C grade for "[throwing] away more garbage per capita than any other country in the developed world."  According to Bryant's article, in 2008 Canadians produced 777kg of waste per capita, or double the waste per capita produced by Japan!  Edmonton alone reportedly produces 230,000 tonnes of residential waste every year, with about 20% getting recycled and 35% composted.  From these numbers it seems reasonable that the largest waste management centre might be in Canada, but why is it in Edmonton?

According to Bryant, Edmonton's waste management and recycling policies may be the reason.  In Toronto, for example, citizens are discouraged from producing excessive waste in view of the fee of $3.10 they will be charged on every extra bag that won't fit in their gray garbage bins, which are only emptied bi-monthly.  The City of Edmonton  offers a voluntary recycling program that has grown to a 93% participation rate since its inception in 1988!

Edmonton Waste Management sells surplus paper waste to companies like Edmonton's own BPCO, a company that transforms paper into shingles.  Alternatively, our discarded paper waste can also be sold for a high price to countries like China or India who don't have their own impressive forests to cut down for paper.  Did you know that paper can only be recycled so many times before the fibres become too weak?  This means that virgin fibres end up getting added to make the paper stronger.  Greys Paper Recycling Industries Ltd. (which recently started operating at the Edmonton Waste Management Centre) solves this problem nicely by taking old cotton sheets and towels from hospitals and hotels and adding it to their paper mixture in a process called "closed-loop" recycling, and thereby offering up a product that is truthfully made of 100% post-consumer recycled material.

A biofuels facility, expected to open later this year, will be capable of converting residential waste into feedstock for biofuels, like ethanol and methanol, which can then be sold off to generate revenue.

The new biofuels facility will be owned and operated by the Montreal-based firm Enerkem Alberta Biofuels, and will be situated at the Edmonton Waste Management Centre.  With this new
facility, Edmonton's goal is to ultimately divert 90% of waste from the landfill by the time the facility is fully operational in 2016 (vs. our current 60% diversion rate).  Of that 90% diverted waste, hopefully 20% will be recycled, 40% composted and the last 30% converted into biofuels.  Even more good news for Edmontonians: the biofuels facility will accept all kinds of plastic, not just the select types of our current program.

So what does this all mean?  Well despite Canada's poor grades in waste management, Edmonton's ability to divert 60 percent of its waste from the landfill is actually setting the bar for other cities to meet or exceed.  This exciting new biofuels facility will be a game-changer in waste management; just imagine how Canada's statistics can improve if more and more cities follow suit!

You can view "Trash Talking" in full at Avenue Edmonton.com pages 48-57

- Nichole (Volunteer)