Sustainability Sam

Welcome to a new feature offered by our Environmental Committee! Each month, Sustainability Sam will answer your questions about how you can be more sustainable. Send your questions to for a chance to be featured in an upcoming response.

Ice Dams

Dear Sustainability Sam, Walking around the neighborhood both last year and more recently, I have noticed a lot of ice dams on buildings. I’ve heard that ice dams are caused by poor insulation. Is this true? What are the potential environmental impacts of ice dams and poor insulation? Richard **** […]

Feeling Overwhelmed by Climate Change?

Dear Sam, The climate crisis seems to be in the news a lot these days and I’m starting to see the impacts of climate change in my own community and in places I love to travel. It feels overwhelming and often very doom and gloom. Where can I learn a […]

Does Food Waste Really Matter?

Dear Sustainability Sam, I have heard that food waste creates greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to global heating and climate change.  Can you explain why? Jen Dear Jen, What a great question to get right before the holidays kick in and we all start gathering and cooking and eating!  You are correct […]

Meet One of the Voices Behind Sustainability Sam!

This month, we’d like to introduce you to one of the voices behind Sustainability Sam, Tangletown Environmental Committee co-chair Andrea Siegel. Andrea has lived with her family in Tangletown for 17 years. In addition to her day job and co-chairing our Environmental Committee, she is a Hennepin County Master Recycler […]

Sustainable Eating

Hi Everyone!   With all the news out there about climate change this summer, Sustainability Sam thought this month we could provide you with some “food” for thought and talk about eating more sustainably.  As you may already know,  agriculture is responsible for 25% of the greenhouses gases emitted every […]

Avoiding Party Waste

Dear Sam, I always cringe when I see the amount of waste at parties. What advice do you have to avoid single-use items like paper plates, plastic cups, silverware, paper napkins, etc. when hosting people at your home or at our upcoming block party? Thank you, Sally ————————————————- Dear Sally, […]

Earth Friendly Lawns

Dear Sustainability Sam, We have a traditional grass lawn that is becoming sparse for various reasons. What is good alternative (renewable, less chemical-dependent) ground cover that we could fill in with? What are resources for homeowners wanting more earth friendly lawns?  Pat *** Dear Pat, Grass lawns are undoubtedly pretty […]

Bathroom Composting

Hi Sam, I’ve been composting in the kitchen for a while and would like to get into composting in the bathroom as well. But, I’m not sure what’s okay to compost! ~Amelia ————- Dear Amelia, Thank you for your dedication to recycling organic waste in your kitchen and for committing […]

Road Chemicals

Dear Sustainability Sam, What happens to all the road chemicals used in winter months to keep the roads clear? -Brian Dear Brian, Thanks for the question! As we all are aware, Minnesota winters are harsh and to keep the roads safe and clear for transportation, counties and municipalities use a […]

Storm Drains

April 2019 Dear Sustainability Sam, Why is it so important to clear the storm drains in the streets? -Beth ——————————— Dear Beth, Thank you for asking this important question. You may have seen Minneapolis neighbors out chipping away at ice-covered storm drains and clearing away all that winter gunk from the […]

Recycling Questions Answered

March 2019 Dear Dedicated Minneapolis Recyclers, Thank you to everyone who submitted recycling questions on Nextdoor and Facebook. I am so encouraged by your motivation to recycle right! Below are answers to all of your recycling questions, organized by topic, but first I’d like to start by sharing four important […]

Organics Recycling

February 2019: Dear Sustainability Sam,           What does the city do with the Organics they collect? Do they actually do something with it or does it go to a landfill? -Holly ———————————————– Dear Holly,That’s a great question!  I often wonder if all the effort I’m making […]

Community Solar Gardens

January 2019: Dear Sustainability Sam, I have gotten several ads for solar energy/joining on a solar energy grid. Not sure how it works, or if it’s a scam. Anybody using? Would love to participate if it helps save energy, and if it’s legit too, of course. -Joan *** Dear Joan, […]

Low Waste Holidays

December 2018: Dear Sustainability Sam, The holidays generate so much garbage!  What can be recycled and what are some ways I can cut down on generating so much waste? Sincerely, Keri Dear Keri, This is a timely and important question! From leftovers that don’t get eaten, to the large garbage […]