Friday, December 26, 2014

help us make christmas tree recycling possible in indy

approximately 33 million real christmas trees are sold in north america each year, according to the u.s. epa. luckily, about 93% of those trees are recycled through more than 4,000 available recycling programs. indianapolis was about to be part of the 7% to not recycle, until... us provide an opportunity for indy residents to recycle/compost christmas trees instead of having them collected by the city curbside and then incinerated. a group of private sector and non-profit partners are coming together to offer this important community service.
Residents are already dumping their Christmas trees at City parks. But, the City isn't collecting trees for recycling this year (they are burning them at the incinerator). So, let's hand onto our trees and drop them off January 2 - 11 at Teachers Treasures parking lot!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

christmas tree recycling option vs. city's curbside incineration plan

let's make sure that christmas trees in indianapolis get recycled instead of incinerated. learn more about the environmentally friendly alternative for having christmas trees mulched/recycled!


Renee Sweany,, 317-538-5472
Julie Rhodes,, 317-371-2788

Local green advocate steps up to offer recycling to interested citizens

INDIANAPOLIS – When local green advice columnist, Renee Sweany, learned that the City of Indianapolis would not be mulching Christmas trees after the holidays, she did what any concerned citizen would do. She decided to plan her own Christmas tree collection.

Last week the Office of Sustainability announced that residents could conveniently place their Christmas trees at their curb this year, rather than deliver them to Indy Parks sites like they have in years past. What they left to be deduced is that trees will not be mulched, but will go with the rest of the garbage to be burned.

Pulling together various community partners, Sweany hopes people from throughout the city will choose to bring their tree to a designated area of the parking lot of Teachers’ Treasures on Indy’s near east side. RecycleForce will be monitoring the tree collection lot and will also be collecting old electronics at their nearby facility. Ray’s Trash Service has donated a dumpster and will haul collected trees to GreenCycle, who has agreed to accept trees at no charge. Local environmental project manager, Julie L Rhodes Consulting, will oversee the project as a volunteer.

The collection will run January 2-11, when people can drop-off clean, real Christmas trees in the designated area of Teachers' Treasures parking lot, 1800 East 10th Street, Indianapolis, IN 46201. It is extremely important that all ornaments, tinsel, garland, fake snow and plastic bags are removed before placing a tree in the dumpster.

With more than 12,000 subscribers to her Ask Renee column in NUVO, Sweany hopes to raise money through an online fundraising campaign to cover the nominal expenses involved with collecting and recycling the trees. People interested in supporting the effort can go to

“We welcome Indy residents to bring their trees to Teachers' Treasures as our mission encourages recycling and repurposing materials all year long,” says Margaret Sheehan, executive director of Teachers’ Treasures. “Our location is supported by strong neighborhood and business associations, along with the many teachers who shop at the store with the school and classroom supplies donated by area businesses and people. This collaboration makes sense for our organization and location.”


Monday, December 22, 2014

indiana needs a climate action plan

a large and diverse group of advocates attended the november 2014
environmental rules board meeting in support for a climate action plan
whose job is it? there is clear legal justification for indiana's environmental rules board to help us progress a climate action alan. a climate action plan would allow Indiana to develop a plan to address the climate crisis -- for maintaining, reversing and adapting to the changes that are inevitable. indiana is only one of 16 states that is not developing a plan. : 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

today's announcement substantiates need for investment in recycling

a previous blog post touched on the need for investment in recycling. it is critical to recognize how recycling can be a catalyst for economic development in a community willing to make that commitment. announced today, i am proud to have secured a $1 million grant for Austin before I departed and disappointed to not be present today for the news conference:

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

indianapolis announces dirty mrf deal with covanta

today, the city of indianapolis announces a plan for a dirty mrf (material recovery facility) whereby trash will be collected and recyclables segregated out for recycling after the fact. haven't we learned from years of dirty mrfs that very little marketable commodity can be gleaned from co-mingled trash. paper can't be recycled after a soda has been spilled on it. cardboard can't be recycled when it sits in a bin for days with food scraps next to it. plastics are very expensive to recycle when they are covered with coffee grounds and grease. in order for a materials to be sold as commodities, it must be treated like commodities. this plan is bad for indianapolis, bad for manufacturers who depend on recyclables for feedstock, and bad for the future of recycling everywhere if cities can be sold this bag of goods.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

investment needed to grow recycling...

austin is aggressively pulling materials from the waste stream until its zero waste goals, but few local markets for those recyclables exist, and most recyclable materials collected in austin land in markets around the world. as such, austin is losing those opportunities for local investment and jobs.

as i depart as the city of austin's first recycling economic development liaison, i was pleased to organize a unique local event that brought together recycling manufacturing companies with the investment community in hopes of bringing awareness and funds to grow recycling in austin. you can learn about the ten (10) companies who presented, as well as see photos and a complete video of the event here. six of the companies to date have been approached by one or more investors. the hope is that this event will result in helping existing austin companies grown, new start-ups, as well as attract national and international companies to expand. over 100 companies, investors and observers attended the event.

while i resigned my position with the city of austin effective june 6, 2014, my sincere hope is that some of my efforts there will have lasting effects towards positive change.

Monday, June 2, 2014

coming home y'all

after spending 18 months in austin, texas, doing some amazing work as the city of austin's first recycling economic development program liaison, i'm coming home, to indy, to once again work on a wide variety of projects. 

i plan to take it light this summer (with one or two small contracts) and spend some time with my son. in the fall, i'll be seeking out a few more projects, much like i'd done for the 10 years prior to leaving indy -- working on policy, program development, project implementation, research, fund development, business planning. my clients have always been very diverse -- small business, large business, governments, regional and national policy workgroups, and non-profits. 

i love that my professional life can allow me to follow my passion and contribute to really cool and meaningful projects on all levels. as such, i have the opportunity to work with some of the most talented and dedicated people in the world! 

in case you are interested, here are just a few of the projects that i initiated while in austin:

It was a fun ride, but am happy to be back in indy - at home!