The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

April 5, 2014

New expo emphasizes sustainability

Recycling, waste reduction among featured topics

MANKATO — Did you know almost anything can be recycled?

There are numerous people who do not, in fact, know that, including some attendees of the premiere Sustainability Expo Saturday at Minnesota State University. But that's why Transitions Mankato and one of its sub-groups, Zero Waste, had booths in the Ballroom. Priority No. 1? To educate, said Zero Waste member Jane Dow of Mankato.

Transitions Mankato is a grassroots movement aiming to “build community resilience and sustainability in the face of peak fossil fuel, climate change and economic instability,” according to the group's mission statement. The Zero Waste group focuses on recycling, which Dow said is still a subject the public has a lot to learn about. That's why their booth was aptly named, “Did you know almost anything can be recycled?”

For example, Dow said, many people don't realize that Bubble Wrap and packing peanuts can be taken to Think Toner & Ink in Mankato for recycling. Misfit Acres takes hard-to-recycle items such as potato chip bags and sells them to companies that recycle them.

Armed with these local tips and various others, Zero Waste is passionate about teaching the public that, at the end of each week, every household has the ability to recycle almost all their waste and to throw away very little trash. It's a philosophy Dow lives by.

“I'm the kind of person who would go through other people's trash and take out the recyclable things,” Dow said with a laugh.

Numerous other groups emphasizing sustainability had booths at the expo, too, including Mankato Area Environmentalists; the School Sisters of Notre Dame's Center for Earth, Spirituality and Rural Ministry; Full Circle Organics; the MSU Environmental Committee; and The Prairie Enthusiasts, among many others.

Rhonda Cannata of Mankato and her 9-year-old daughter, Hope, attended the expo because the family are avid recyclers and do as much as they can to limit their carbon footprint. They rarely run their air conditioner in the summer, they bike instead of drive whenever they can, they pick up litter, and they recycle everything they can.

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