MRC Update: Join us for a documentary screening of Just Eat It, tips for buying local and wasting less this holiday season, and updates on changes to recycling programs

master recycler composter newsletter

You’re invited! “Just Eat It” documentary screening

Just Eat It graphic

Saturday, December 8
6:30 to 8 p.m.
Seward Community Co-op and Friendship Store, 317 East 38th Street in Minneapolis

Join us to watch the food waste documentary, “Just Eat It,” made by a couple who vowed to stop grocery shopping and only eat foods that would otherwise be thrown away. The documentary screening will be followed by a short discussion.

Learn more and RSVP on Facebook or email

This holiday season, buy local and waste less

The holiday season brings celebration, community, and… waste. Lots, and lots of waste. Americans throw away 25% more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year’s holiday period than any other time of year.

Online shopping is a big contributor. About 40% of people with internet access shop online several times per month, and the 2017/2018 holiday season was the first year that shoppers spent more money holiday shopping online than they did in stores. It’s easy to understand. Online shopping offers a wide variety of options and is incredibly convenient. But that convenience comes with a cost.

The massive influx of cardboard in the waste stream during the holidays is so prevalent that it has been dubbed “The Amazon Effect.” Holiday shoppers buying online often receive multiple carboard boxes, not to mention additional packaging like foam, packing peanuts, and plastic film. Some of this packaging waste can be recycled, some cannot. And regardless, it all contributes to the total amount of waste that we generate.

What you can do

Challenge yourself and others to take some or all of the following actions this holiday season to reduce waste.

Stay offline

Take the ultimate challenge and boycott online shopping this year. Make a rule that any gifts you need to buy must be bought locally and do your best to stick to it. This is also a great way to get to know your community better and to support local shops and small businesses.

Green gifts fair

Gift secondhand

The popularity of secondhand shopping is on the rise! Look for gifts at your local thrift, vintage or consignment store to reduce and reuse. Use the Choose to Reuse website to find retailers near you and to see upcoming events like swaps and vintage markets.

Clothing swap

Gift experiences

Give the gift of experiences this holiday season. Gifts like concert or sporting event tickets, cooking classes, fitness passes, spa days, outdoor adventures, or comedy shows are great ways to show you care and give an interesting and unique gift with little to no packaging waste. See our list for more gift ideas.


Reuse cardboard and packages

If you do end up with cardboard boxes, reuse before you recycle to get more useful life out of them. Try to use the same boxes or bags every year to wrap your gifts, or try wrapping with newspaper, paper grocery bags, or fabric.

Fabric wrapping

Sources and further reading

New Master Recycler/Composter program coordinator

The Master Recycler/Composter program began in 2011 with a class of 27 original students. The program has grown to now include 686 Master Recycler/Composters who have contributed more than 8,000 payback hours over the years!

This hugely impactful program was started by Carolyn Collopy, who has taught every class since 2011. Carolyn has recently been promoted into a supervisory role with Hennepin County Environment and Energy and is passing on the torch of coordinating the MRC program to Kaitlin Steinberg.

Kaitlin Steinberg headshot

Kaitlin has been with Hennepin County since June and has been working in the waste and recycling field for more than two years. Please welcome Kaitlin into this role and thank Carolyn for her years of service and dedication to the MRC program!

Kaitlin will now be your main point of contact for the MRC program. Contact her with questions, concerns, payback opportunities, payback hours submissions, and all things MRC at or 612-348-6846.

Recent changes to Hennepin County recycling programs

Hennepin County is making changes to two of our collection programs. Please read through these changes so you are up to date when providing information to residents.

Battery recycling collection at community spaces discontinued

Group of rechargeable and button batteries

Due to potential fire hazard, the county has stopped collecting batteries at community locations including libraries, city buildings, and city event collections.

Batteries are still accepted at the Hennepin County Drop-off Facilities in Bloomington and Brooklyn Park and at county household hazardous waste event collections.

Find more information about battery recycling and recent program changes at

Non-reusable textile recycling program discontinued

Hennepin County is no longer accepting non-reusable clothing and textiles at the county’s drop-off facilities. The program is being discontinued because the county has not been able to find a vendor that can verify the material is being recycled.

What to do with clothing and textiles

Teenage girl looking at t-shirt while cleaning out closet

First, take a closer look at the status of your textiles and seek out donation options. Check with organizations before donating as the condition of used items that they accept varies. Find a donation options near you on the Choose to Reuse website.

Also consider creative ways to repurpose items. For example, worn out or stained textiles can be repurposed as rags or stuffing for pillows. As a last resort, clothing and textiles can go into the garbage.

Reduce textile waste

Rethink your buying habits to reduce the waste you generate.

Before you buy:

  • Evaluate if you need the item. Consider the cost in time and money to maintain it. Think about what you’ll do with it when you’re done with it.
  • Check to see if you already have the product or something that would work in place of the item you want to purchase.
  • Rent or borrow items you don’t use often (e.g., bridesmaid dresses or party gowns)

When you buy:

  • Buy used, which will save money and avoid the resources needed to produce, package, and transport new clothes.
  • Buy high-quality, durable goods.
  • Avoid trendy and disposable items.

After you buy:

  • Take good care of your items to extend their life.
  • Repair tears and holes. You can get mending help at a monthly Fix-It Clinic.
  • Repurpose your items by finding creative new uses for your old stuff.


Newly certified MRCs

Congratulations to the following MRCs on completing their payback hours!

  • Becky Copper
  • Jennifer Lang
  • Jaki Stewart
  • Kim Richards
  • Mary Phelps
  • Michael Guest

Reporting your payback hours

Working on your payback? Many of you are doing great things in your communities to further waste reduction in Hennepin County but have not yet reported any hours. Please use our online form to report your hours or feel free to email an update of what you are up to, and we’ll take care of the rest.

Upcoming payback opportunities

Saturday, January 25: Waste station monitoring at Lake Harriet Winter Kite Festival in Minneapolis

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is seeking waste monitors for their Lake Harriet Winter Kite Festival on Saturday, January 25. The event is from noon to 4 p.m. If interested, email Rachel Grudzinski at

Share your payback opportunities!

If you are attending, organizing, or volunteering at an event that could use some MRC help, please let us know! The winter months generally have fewer payback opportunities, so please be on the lookout. Email with opportunities or post them directly to the Facebook page.

Important links

Contact us

Master Recycler/Composter Coordinator


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