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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Last Minute, Sustainable Valentine Gift Ideas!

There are so many ways to reduce waste on Valentine’s Day, especially when it comes to gifts. Although it may not be traditional, it doesn’t mean the gift or experience will be worth any less! Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, so if you haven’t figured out what to gift your loved one(s), here are some last minute sustainable and thoughtful gift ideas.

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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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Get Organized in 2019: Upcycled Shutters

As the new year begins, we’re all thinking about how to refresh our spaces and get more organized. A great way to get inspiration is by visiting our store, EcoBuilding Bargains, where there is a large amount of inventory moving in and out every day. Using salvaged or reused items, such as those from EcoBuilding Bargains, can be a unique and environmentally friendly way to decorate your home.

We found these beautiful shutters and re-purposed them into holders that can be placed near the entryways of your home for important items, such as keys or mail. We also made a kid-friendly chore board, using different icons to represent tasks and check marks that can be used to indicate whether the task has been completed. Check out the instructions below!

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New Uses for your Christmas Spruces

Each year there are around 25-30 million fresh cut trees being purchased for the holidays, creating a lot of waste to be disposed of. Fortunately, there’s no need to get the winter blues since there are various ways to spruce up your life and make use of the trees after you take down your decorations!

Mulch Party

Pine needles dry quickly and decompose slowly making them excellent moisture and mold-free mulch. Strip away the needles on the branches and sprinkle them in your yard! You could also rent a wood chipper to get even better results! It might be a bit pricey to rent a wood chipper, if you don’t already have one, so you could get a couple of your neighbors together and split the cost, that way everyone could use it!

Bough Blankets

Cut off main branches and lay them over your yard. During the winter your plants can be severely damaged by frost heaving- an expansion of the underlying soil, which alters the nutrient composition. Laying the branches over your yard will give your spring plants a warm blanket!

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