EcoFellows (try to) Live Zero Waste for a Week

When thinking of living a zero waste lifestyle, mainstream media pictures a mason jar with years of trash stuffed inside. This is a popular approach for bloggers who, after maximizing recycling, donation, compost, and purchasing reduction opportunities, provide a visualization of their impact by fitting the leftover waste in a jar. We wrote a blog on how this extreme zero waste lifestyle might not be the most accessible way to reduce waste as individuals. The associated cost, time, local infrastructure, and location are some of the most notable barriers. Taking this information into account, our EcoFellows – Becky (BK), Morgan (ML), Olivia (OH), Jonathan (JR), and Natasha (NN) – challenged themselves to live zero waste for a week to see what it was like! The goals were to test the feasibility of living the stereotypical zero waste mason jar lifestyle as young professionals in Western Massachusetts, as well as understand the challenges and successes for each person.

For seven days, each EcoFellow kept a list of all of the waste they produced, making note of what could theoretically be composted and recycled in our area. Throughout the challenge, they actively thought about reducing waste and made changes accordingly. Some of the areas of waste tracked included food and associated packaging, hygiene products, receipts, and cleaning materials.

The responses below to speak to each fellow’s experience. All five live in Northampton, so the physical infrastructure and location are relatively standardized. This area has multiple stores with bulk sections, a plastic bag ban, and a progressive mindset towards sustainability and environmental issues in general, which many of them found to be beneficial during their zero waste week.

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Warmer Landscapes: DIY Stained Glass Windows

Sometimes the only way to get through a cold winter day is with a good DIY project! We’ve utilized these salvaged windows from our store, EcoBuilding Bargains, to create a unique and colorful stained glass decorative piece. Whether you want to envision a warmer landscape or showcase your favorite images, this easy and kid-friendly craft is a great way to mix up your space!

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The EcoFellowship Experience: Morgan Laner

About halfway through my senior year of college, I felt slightly panicked. I was completing a degree in environmental studies and sociology at Rollins College and realized that I had no idea what my next steps were. In this period of uncertainty, I came across the Center for EcoTechnology’s EcoFellowship program. It was the perfect opportunity – the ability to explore my options through data-driven and meaningful projects and work with likeminded, empowered people. Once I began, I learned that the term ‘professional development’ wasn’t just a buzzword that CET used to recruit potential fellows – I actually got to conduct informational interviews, take tours of facilities, and explore passions outside of my direct responsibilities as part of my paid work day. Throughout these past five months, I’ve realized the benefit of the EcoFellowship for my own personal growth and am looking forward to furthering my knowledge and interest in waste reduction in order to solidify my career aspirations.

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DIY Vintage Halloween Light Fixture

Halloween is all about the creative costumes and fun decorations. Rather than utilizing disposable decor from the store, read more to learn how to make a completely plastic-free light that will make a spooky addition to your window display or front porch! Adjust your desired design to fit any holiday or celebration, you can cut out any shape to be illuminated!

 

Materials Needed:

  • Clear or white round light fixture
  • Light orange paint
  • Textured sponge
  • Black construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Craft glue or tape
  • Light source (lantern, battery-operated candles, fairy lights)

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Food Donation Resources for New York State

New York may be known for its bright lights, tourist attractions, and giant slices of pizza, but the state could also soon be known as a leader in diverting food waste from landfills! As the state of New York considers implementing a food waste ban, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NY DEC) and New York State Pollution Prevention Institute (NYSP2I) are working together to assist businesses and service providers with their wasted food diversion. The Center for EcoTechnology (CET) has partnered with NYSP2I to continue to provide wasted food expertise for entities throughout the state. One of the most recent resources, a series of legal fact sheets regarding food donation in NY, was developed in collaboration with the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic.

WFS food donation

Similar fact sheets have been helpful for the food industry in other states, such as Massachusetts and Connecticut. These resources have already been a huge benefit for food waste generators and service providers by adding confidence surrounding the rules and protections for their businesses. The recently released New York documents explain the legal backgrounds of liability protections, date labeling laws, tax incentives, and feeding food scraps to animals.

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