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This is your page for all things reduction, reuse, repair, and upcycling. Here you will find resources and recommendations for how you can reduce waste. 

These four steps are recommended and prioritized before recycling and composting, because they prevent waste from being formed in the first place.

Waste prevention saves energy and resources, preserves landfill space, and reduces our greenhouse gas emissions in Iowa City.

All of these efforts go towards our emissions reduction goals outlined in the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan


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What is reduction and reuse?

Reduction and reuse are simply about using less stuff.

The amount of stuff we use and buy tends to translate into the amount of trash we produce. For example, when we reduce the amount of disposable packaging we choose to buy, our trash production decreases. 

Reuse involves using items again and again, such as a reusable shopping bag. Reusing items is an impactful way that each of us can reduce waste. 

Reducing and reusing are all about our behaviors and habits. Changing behaviors can sometimes seem difficult, but the good news is that there are a lot of easy, simple steps you can take that make a big difference over time.


Here are environmentally-better alternatives to things you do regularly

Drinking water: choose a reusable water bottle 

Drinking coffee or tea out: remember your reusable coffee mug 

Shopping: Bring your reusable shopping bags the next time you head to the store.

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Remember the importance of consumer choice. You make a vote for the products you want on the shelf with what you choose to spend money on. Choose products that are local, sustainably-made, Fair Trade, recycled content, recyclable, reusable, durable, or organic. 

For grocery shopping, have a strategy in mind before walking in the store. Make a list, and only buy the food that you know you can eat. For more great tips on reducing food waste, check out our Food Waste webpage. 

Drying freshly-washed hands: reach for a cloth towel at home the next time you wash your hands.

Meal time: opt for cloth napkins for your next meal; only plate what you know you can eat; save leftovers for later.

Reading: Check out a book from the library. Sharing, or reusing books is a great way to reduce environmental impact. Did you know that you can also check out movies, music, and artwork from the library? More information at the Library's website


What is upcycling? 

Upcycling is taking an item, that would have otherwise ended up in the trash or recycling bin, and giving it a new use or purpose. Upcycling oftentimes involves some creativity and craftiness, and in a lot of cases, can be quite simple. 

Some examples include:

  • Using an old mason jar as a drinking glass or pencil holder 
  • Collecting wine corks to make a bulletin board
  • Transforming a t-shirt into a reusable bag
  • Turning a plastic water bottle into a bird feeder 
  • Sewing old sweaters into mittens
Why repair things? 

Making do with what we already have reduces waste and our overall environmental impact. Repairing clothing that is torn, adding a coat of paint on an old table to freshen it up, or replacing a tire on your bike are just a few examples of “making do” instead of buying new.  


Local Events

This event series is held every January, February, and March. RSVP is required for each event, as space is limited. RSVP to jane-wilch@iowa-city.org or call 319-887-6110. Events are no cost, and usually are about one hour in length. 

 

Rag Rug Making, January 29 @ 6 PM (class is full)
  • Where: Iowa City Public Library, Room A
  • Workshop Leader: City of Iowa City Staff

Upcycle unwearable clothes and scrap material into beautiful rugs. At this workshop, attendees will learn a rag rug making technique, start a rug project, and be able to take materials home to finish their upcycled creation. Materials will be provided, or feel free to bring your own clothing or material to use.

 

Using Elements of Design to Upcycle, February 5 @ 6 PM
  • Where: East Side Recycling Center
  • Workshop Leader: Jayne Ryder

At this workshop, the major elements of design and how to use the elements to upcycle will be discussed. A variety of methods and materials, as well as, upcycling project ideas will be covered. Please bring a sketch book or notebook and drawing utensils of your choice. (Some drawing materials will be provided.)

 
Rag Rug Making, February 10 @ 6 PM 
  • Where: East Side Recycling Center
  • Workshop Leader: City of Iowa City Staff

Upcycle unwearable clothes and scrap material into beautiful rugs. At this workshop, attendees will learn a rag rug making technique, start a rug project, and be able to take materials home to finish their upcycled creation. Materials will be provided, or feel free to bring your own clothing or material to use.

 

Don't Toss the T-Shirts - Creating a T-Shirt Memory Quilt, February 12 @ 6 PM
  • Where: East Side Recycling Center
  • Workshop Leaders: Twyla Hein and Kim Cross

At this event, one quilt block will be assembled as demonstration, and directions will be provided on how to create a quilt out of t-shirts. Participants should bring the following: one t-shirt that can be cut up, scissors and/ or rotary cutter, and sewing/quilting supplies, if you have them (Cutting mat, square ruler the size of your shirt design. If you have extras of these items that you are willing to share, please bring them also.).

 

Wine Cork and Bottle Upcycling, February 19 @ 6 PM
  • Where: East Side Recycling Center
  • Workshop Leader: City of Iowa City Staff

Join the fun as we upcycle wine bottles and wine corks into useful items. Several examples will be provided for upcycling ideas. Materials are provided, but participants are also welcome to bring their own.

 

Upcycling Project, February 26 @ 6 PM
  • Where: East Side Recycling Center
  • Workshop Leader: Habitat for Humanity ReStore

Join Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity ReStore staff in an upcycling project! The project, yet to be determined, will upcycle an item often available for sale in ReStore. More details to come.

 

How to Restore Your House’s Historic Windows, March 4 @ 5:30 - 8:30 PM 
(class is full; contact us to be added to a waiting list)
  • Where: East Side Recycling Center
  • Workshop Leader: Friends of Historic Preservation

This workshop will demonstrate how to reglaze single pane windows to extend their useful life and make them more energy efficient. Workshop leaders will show participants how to remove existing glazing putty, remove glass, clean and or repaint wood window sashes, reinstall the glass, and install glazing points and fresh glazing putty.

Participants will be able to watch the demonstration and if they choose, participate in the reglazing process on windows provided by the Salvage Barn. Participants will learn about the tools and supplies needed for reglazing and be provided with internet and written reference resources. How to safely remove lead based paint will also be demonstrated.

 
Rag Rug Making, March 11 @ 6 PM (class is full)
  • Where: Iowa City Public Library, Room A
  • Workshop Leader: City of Iowa City Staff

Upcycle unwearable clothes and scrap material into beautiful rugs. At this workshop, attendees will learn a rag rug making technique, start a rug project, and be able to take materials home to finish their upcycled creation. Materials will be provided, or feel free to bring your own clothing or material to use.

 

Rag Rug Making, March 18 @ 6 PM 
  • Where: East Side Recycling Center
  • Workshop Leader: City of Iowa City Staff

Upcycle unwearable clothes and scrap material into beautiful rugs. At this workshop, attendees will learn a rag rug making technique, start a rug project, and be able to take materials home to finish their upcycled creation. Materials will be provided, or feel free to bring your own clothing or material to use.

 

  • Iowa City Fab Lab: This local maker-space has frequent events related to upcycling and reuse. 
  • Backyard Abundance: This local nonprofit can help you create a beautiful, organic, low-maintenance landscape that reuses materials for gardens, creates compost from kitchen scraps and yard debris, provides habitat for desired wildlife, grows food and manages rainwater.
  • Iowa City Bike Library: This organization offers classes and workshops related to bike maintenance and repair. 

Resources


Questions?