Monday, June 30, 2014

Red, White, and Green: Tips for an Environmentally-Friendly July Fourth

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The Fourth of July is this weekend! Here are a few tips to keep your Independence Day red, white, and green.
1. Use Reusable containers.
You're bound to have leftovers, so save them in tupperware containers so your guests can chow down on them later.
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2. Try a black bean burger instead.
Cattle farming is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions and is one of the leading causes of deforestation. Avoid the beef - try a black bean burger! They have innumerable positive health effects.
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3. NO plastic water bottles!
Encourage your guests to bring their own reusable water bottles. The Fourth of July can get hot and sweaty, so be sure to stay hydrated and waste-free.
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4. Purchase local meats and produce.
Doing so will reduce the energy use and pollution caused by transporting foods.

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5. Buy organic.
Avoid exposing your guests to toxic chemicals by keeping them out of the soil, air and water supply.
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6. Grill more veggies and less meat. 
Have a healthier feast with a lower environmental impact. Also, cook your entire meal on your grill, including your vegetables, beans, and garlic bread. 
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That's all, folks! Have a Happy Independence Day. For more, Check out fun U of M Fourth of July activities here
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Works Cited
"Generation Green." Generation Green EcoTip of the Week Fourth of July Celebrations Comments. Generation Green, n.d. Web. 12 June 2014.
Whittaker, Luke. "Green Grilling: Make Your Next Barbecue Experience Better for You & the Environment." INSTALLITDIRECT. INSTALLITDIRECT, n.d. Web. 12 June 2014.
"10 Animals That Are Bad for the Environment - Cattle." MNN. MNN, 2013. Web. 17 June 2014.
"6 Health Benefits of Black Beans." 6 Health Benefits of Black Beans. Eat This!, 29 May 2011. Web. 16 June 2014.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Trash Art

Today's post is all about trash. And art. Trash Art. It's a real thing, and it's fantastic. Check out these photos!
Jane Perkins Recycled Art
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Can you tell how many different items Mona Lisa is made up of? I see a spoon, a measuring cup, a Barbie's arm, a zipper, and a ton of buttons. 
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The above dog is made of used kitchen spoons. The horses below are made of a collection of different plastics.

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This fantastic dragon is made from thousands of aluminum cans and plastic bottles.

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The next two photos are done by the same artist, Francisco de Pájaro. Rather than taking bits of trash and making them into art elsewhere, Francisco finds trash on the streets and turns it into art right then and there. He usually writes "Art is Trash" near his works, so while his message is geared more toward defining art than reducing waste, he still reuses materials to make his art. If you'd like to know more about this artist, you can read de Pájaro's blog here.
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The art he creates is equal parts adorable and creepy.
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Recognize the photo below? It is a recreation of Seurat’s masterpiece, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of Grand Jatte, done with 106,000 aluminum cans. A closeup of the work is immediately beneath it. 

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Lastly, my personal favorite trash art is the work of artist Gregory Kloehn. He goes digging through trash for supplies to make tiny homes for the homeless.
Gregory digs through illegally dumped trash and goes dumpster diving.
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And his homelessness project is getting attention.
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In the following photo is Wonder, a homeless woman Kloehn has known for a few years now, sitting in her new home with its creator. 
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Hopefully this post has inspired you to create some of your own trash art!

It is likely we will see some trash art at the Ann Arbor Art Fair from July 16-July 19, 2014! Nearly 500,000 people attend this event every year. Check it out!

Works Cited
Friedman, Vitaly. "40 Terrific Works of Art Made From Common Trash - Noupe." Noupe. N.p., 12 July 2010. Web. 09 June 2014.
Inspiration, Resources. "Non-Trashy Recycled and Trash Art." Webdesigner Depot RSS. N.p., 29 Dec. 2009. Web. 09 June 2014.
"Amazing Recycled Art by Jane Perkins." Fine Print NYC Blog. N.p., 9 July 2013. Web. 09 June 2014.
"I've Seen People Turn Garbage Into Some Cool Stuff. But THIS.... This Is Absolute Brilliance." Viral Nova. N.p., 4 May 2014. Web. 09 June 2014.
Artz, Matthew. "Oakland Artist Turns Trash into Homes for the Homeless." N.p., 8 Jan. 2014. Web. 09 June 2014.

Monday, June 16, 2014

9 Waste-less Things to do in Ann Arbor This Summer

In honor of the summer solstice this weekend and spring classes ending soon, here are nine super fun and wasteless summer activities to do in Ann Arbor.
1. Thrift at PTO thrift shop
Photo Gallery: Ann Arbor PTO Thrift Shop reopens
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Shop for some new summer clothes or fill the awkward space in your apartment with a new couch. Shoot, you might even find $40,000! You'll feel like a hero, saving your new clothing from a tragic death in a landfill. Not to mention you can save hundreds of dollars.

2. Buy a book from the sidewalk book man
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Sidewalk Book Man sets up shop just outside of Red Hawk's on State Street most warm weekday evenings. 'Shop' is a couple wobbly wooden tables piled high with books of all shapes and sizes. Stop by one night and pick up a book. Not only will you be reusing,  you'll get the opportunity to read an exotic new tale!

3. Take a trip down the Huron river
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Always wanted to try PaddleBoarding? Well this is the summer for it. The Argo Canoe Livery and the Gallup Canoe Livery both provide kayaks, canoes, or paddleboards for you, your friends, and your family to travel the Huron in. With oodles of trail options, you can have a river rapids ride or a trip down the lazy river. It's up to you!

4. Go for a walk
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Whether you take an evening stroll down down the streets of Ann Arbor or an afternoon hike in the Arb, take a minute to go for a walk. It's good for your heart, your mental health, and your wallet (walking is free, after all). It can reduce blood pressure and improve circulation, decreasing your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Elle Woods says it best. "Exercise gives people endorphins. Endorphins make people happy!"

5. Tour the MRF

Plastic recycling
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A Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) tour takes you and a group of friends and/or family through the recycling plant of Ann Arbor. Get an idea of where your recyclables go, how much Ann Arbor produces every day, and why we can't recycle some of the things we can't (like Styrofoam and PVC pipe!) Check out this video of Michigan Radio's tour of the MRF!
To sign up for a tour, go here.

6. Get in touch with your artsy side at Scrap Box
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Love scrapbooking? Need a card for someone's birthday? Just feeling like being creative? I know I tend to get crafty and DIY-y during the summer. Let's all get our craft on! The Scrap Box has everything from ribbons to buttons, beads to paper, and bamboo sticks to colorful nylon. The best part is the Scrap Box is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and all the materials available are reused and recycled! This is guilt-free crafting at its finest, people. The Scrap Box is located at 581 State Circle in Ann Arbor Michigan. It is a straight shot down State Street. Be sure to hang a right after you cross I-94. If you pass the airport, you've gone too far. 

7. Shop at the Kerrytown Farmer's Market
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Open to the public on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., offering an unbelievable variety of foods and other products. Live bands, such as 'Appleseed Collective' play while you peruse through the market. Come for the local produce, stay for the live music and charismatic vendors. To learn more about the market, go here. Or check out their blog!

8. See an Outdoor Movie
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Top of the Park is showing tons of awesome outdoor movies at 10:00 p.m. on Rackham's Stage this summer...and they're all FREE!! 

  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone on June 15
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire on June 17
  • Despicable Me 2 on June 22
  • When Harry Met Sally on June 24
  • Spaceballs on June 25
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey on June 22
  • My Big Fat Greek Wedding on July 1
  • Star Trek Into Darkness on July 3
  • The Wizard of Oz on July 6
9. Give to the Violin Monster
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A popular figure in Ann Arbor, this man has been playing violin in a terrifying mask on Ann Arbor Street Corners for years now. It has been rumored that the pink tube socks will make a comeback this summer. Being the violin monster is this man's full-time job, so if you're lucky enough to run into him this summer, drop him a few coins. He'll appreciate it, though his face will be saying "RAAAAAAAWWWWWWWRRRRR."

Monday, June 9, 2014

Come to the Ann Arbor Green Fair!

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The Office of the Mayor of Ann Arbor is hosting a Green Fair THIS Friday, June 13th! A wonderful event with over 100 exhibits, you can interact with live birds of prey, listen to solar-powered live music, and chat with members of environmental nonprofits. This is the 14th Annual Green Fair, located on Main Street between Huron & William! I know we here at the U-M Waste Reduction and Recycling Office are super excited about this night of green fun and entertainment!
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For more information, see this website!
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Monday, June 2, 2014

What is A2Share?

What is A2Share? 
A clothing swap held by members of A2Share. 
This image is provided by A2Share's Facebook page.
A2Share is an organization dedicated to building up the sharing economy in the Ann Arbor area. They host monthly events such as clothing swaps (see photo to left), film screenings, and Sharing Summits, when members get together and share their skills, ideas, and resources (ie, food, seeds, books, and clothes). A2Share was created in February 2013 with funding from Shareable Magazine, an international online magazine for the sharing economy. 

What has A2Share been up to?
This image is provided by A2Share's Facebook page.
Over the last year, A2Share has created an online directory to gather all of the local sharing resources onto one handy website. In August of last year, they held their first Sharing Summit at the Campus Farm (see image to right). They invited all sharing-affiliated organizations such as the People's Food Co-Op, the Inter-Cooperative Council, and the Office of Campus Sustainability to 'table' at the sharing festivals. The event was successful, with 25 organizations and roughly 80 students and community members in attendance. After a very positive response, A2Share started monthly meetings, sometimes in the form of potlucks, which are held at Hathaway's Hideaway or member's houses.
Why share?
First of all it's cost-efficient. For example, sharing a lawn mower with two other houses cuts the cost down by two-thirds. Second, it is convenient - if I need a loaf of bread, I would much rather go across the street to a neighbor's house than all the way to the grocery store. Lastly, community members have much talent they don't put to use often enough. Maybe you're a Master Gardener, but you really want to learn how to play the piano. A2Share can put you in contact with someone who can teach you how to play and you can help them with their garden. This is an example of a service A2TimeBank, a new project A2Share is working on, can do for you. A timebank is like a bank, but you exchange your time doing something (teaching someone to play piano, gardening) rather than money.
Awesome! How do I get involved with A2Share?
If you're a student here at U-M, you are in luck! A2Share just started a student group and in the fall they'll be looking for new members as well as officers for the group. If you're interested, reach out to; they'll keep you updated on upcoming events and ways to get involved. If you are anyone with access to the internet, you are ALSO in luck! Go to A2Share's website and sign up for their newsletter. Don't forget to follow A2Share on Facebook and Twitter, and email them at Also, there's a link to sign up for their newsletter here.
Lastly, the greatest way to get involved is to come to an event. It just so happens that A2Share is having an event on Saturday, June 7th(see flyer below)! See you there!

This information was provided by Ryan Gourley, founder of A2Share.