National Night Out is Tuesday, Aug. 2. Minneapolis block club leaders planning NNO events should also plan on leaving a smaller environmental footprint thus saving money, using fewer resources and throwing away less garbage. A greener NNO may not even require any new supplies. Tips for a greener block party include:
- Using reusable plates, cups and utensils to save throwing away and buying new every time. Planners who don’t have enough plates or cups can ask neighbors to bring their own.
- Providing condiments in bulk containers.
- Saving decorations to use again next year.
- Only serving beverages in reusable or recyclable containers.
- Recycling the bottles, cans and other recyclables from the party. Setting out bins or bags and labeling them will make it easy for guests.
- Whenever possible, using email instead of paper to get information to neighbors.
- Serving local, healthy food from farmers markets or organizers’ own gardens.
More ideas are at Green Block Party Ideas (pdf). People shouldn’t be afraid to ask for neighbors’ help – that’s the spirit of National Night Out.
Neighbors wanting to take their commitment even further can see if they can organize a zero-waste event by recycling, reusing and composting everything and throwing nothing away. More information about zero waste is at Be a Zero Hero.
Anyone using propane to grill should use refillable propane tanks whenever possible. An empty, non-refillable propane tank must be disposed of safely. The retailer or manufacturer may have take-back options, otherwise a list of companies that accept propane tanks is at www.hennepinatoz.org/azguide/household.html.
Those barbecuing with charcoal should dispose of leftover lighter fluid and treated charcoal properly by bringing it to a drop-off facility.
Recreational fires. Follow the law for clean air and safety …
Folks who enjoy a small outdoor fire at their get-togethers should keep these City ordinances in mind:
- Outdoor fires are permitted between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m.
- Keep fire small, less than three feet in diameter and two feet high.
- Burn only untreated, unpainted, dry wood. Never burn cardboard boxes, trash or debris — the smoke can be toxic.
- Fire must be at least 25 feet away from a structure or combustible material and in a fire ring or pit with edges more than six inches high.
- Have a hose or fire extinguisher present.
- Postpone the fire when the wind exceeds 10 mph.
- To report an illegal or unsafe fire, call 911.
… and be considerate of neighbors
These simple suggestions could help make sure neighbors are being considerate:
- Postponing a fire when Minneapolis is under an air pollution advisory or alert. Fires release fine particles that contribute to air pollution and can aggravate a number of health problems, including asthma. Sign up for air quality alerts at http://mn.enviroflash.info.
- Letting neighbors know when planning a fire.
- Postponing a fire when smoke will blow directly at a neighbor’s house.
For more information on recreational fires or to register a complaint about a recreational fire, call 311 or email Minneapolis311@minneapolismn.gov.
Published Jul. 13, 2011