In our throwaway culture, we often assume that the cost of repairing a broken item is higher that the cost of buying it new. But we forget that there is also another cost associated when we send that item to the landfill. In my quest for creating as little trash as possible, only this year I saved six items from the landfill. I am including the contact info of some local fixers here too.
Dish Rack: This is my favorite dish rack in the world. We got it at Crate & Barrel over 10 years ago, they don’t make these anymore. One of top wires got unwelded. I took it to Paglia Welding in Marlborough and the owner graciously fixed it. It took him one minute.
Reclining Patio Chair: After a few years of lying under the sun, the cords of this favorite chair disintegrated. We bought new cord and re-corded it. Now is good as new.
Electric Stove: This one came with the house and there was never a good reason to “update” it. It works great. I keep it very clean and it looks like we just bought it. When we had a problem with the oven door and one of the burners, we called Belcher’s Appliance. They are very knowledgeable and professional. I also feel good supporting a small, family owned and local appliance company.
Lunch Box: The mesh of this lunch box got ripped from carrying heavy water bottles. It just took a needle and some thread to fix it. I know yellow would have been much better but I only had grey.
Sweater: The elbows of this nice sweater got holes worn in them. I took it to our favorite tailor in town and she sewed some nice matching elbow patches. Good for a few more years now. Esmeralda’s Seamstress & Alterations.
Pencil Sharpener: Yes, this cheap thing that only costs 50 cents got unglued at the first touch; a couple of drops of Gorilla Glue fixed it.
This is the list of my top “Green Resolutions” for the New Year. Remember, it’s all about taking baby steps. Any action you take will benefit your health and the health of this planet we call home.
- Reduce the amount of meat and dairy you eat, especially red meat. Adopt Meatless Mondays or even better, become a WEEKDAY VEGETARIAN.
- Start collecting your food scraps at home and compost them or bring them to a Community Composting Facility near you.
- Reduce the amount of disposable plastics you use. Replace plastic plates, cups and utensils with reusable ones like ceramic plates, cups and silverware. HAVE MINIMAL WASTE PARTIES.
- Reduce your junk mail by going to any of these websites and following instructions: https://dmachoice.thedma.org or www.catalogchoice.org.
- Recycle right and when in doubt throw it out. Go to your town website and get updated information, print it and put it next to your recycling bin.
- Bring your own reusable bags when you go shopping. Keep them in your handbag and in your car. If you forget, ask for a cardboard box or skip the bag and carry your own item to the car. AVOID PLASTIC BAGS.
- Choose local and organic foods whenever possible and try to buy food with less packaging. For example: choose loose corn instead of corn wrapped in Styrofoam and plastic. AND BUY JUST THE FOOD YOU’LL EAT.
- Use full loads of dishes and clothes on a short cycle if possible and use half the amount of detergent as recommended.
- Bring Your Own Mug to the coffee shop or ask for a ceramic mug and sit down and enjoy your coffee. AND SKIP THE STRAW.
- Use kitchen cloths in the kitchen instead of paper towels. Try the Super Amazing Reusable Kitchen Cloth from Trader Joe’s.
- Use newspaper and paper bags to wrap presents, decorate with dried plants and raffia and re-use gift bags. Gift wrapping paper is not recyclable.
- Bring your own containers for take out and avoid toxic Styrofoam and extra trash.
- Filter your own water and home and carry a reusable water bottle. AVOID PLASTIC WATER BOTTLES.
- Replace paper napkins with beautiful and colorful cloth ones.
- Think before you print and always print double sided.
- When you buy paper goods: toilet paper, paper towels and print paper, choose paper with high post consumer recycled content. That way, you are helping to maintain market demand for recyclables.
- Buy only good quality clothing so it lasts a long time. Ideally buy in consignment stores. Avoid cheap clothing that will soon break apart and will end up in landfills.
At Home Actions
- Install a clothesline in your yard to dry your clothes in the summer and one in your basement to dry your clothes in the winter. OR GET A STAND UP RACK.
- When something breaks try fixing it first. If you need to buy a new item consider buying it second hand. Check www.boston.craiglist.org.
- Watch a video on sustainability: “Bag It”, “Before the Flood”, “Food Inc”, “Cowspiracy”, “Time to Choose”, “The True Cost”, “Forks Over Knives”.
- Turn off the lights. If you’re not using a room, there’s no need for the light to be on.
- Consider installing solar panels on your home or purchasing renewable electricity from a reliable supplier. Contact Mass Energy: www.massenergy.org.
- Replace your conventional bulbs with LED bulbs when they break.
- Turn off electronic devices when not in use.
- Contact Mass Save: www.masssave.com for a home energy assessment to save money and energy in your home.
- Adjust your water heater to 120 degrees.
- Next time you buy a new appliance, choose one with the Energy Star label.
- Turn your thermostat down and put on an extra layer. Or get a programmable thermostat.
- Use re-chargeable batteries only and when they die, recycle them properly.
- Next time you need to buy a new car, consider a hybrid, electric or super fuel-efficient car: https://www.massenergy.org/drivegreen
- Maximize fuel efficiency of your car, no matter what model you drive: Keep tires inflated, avoid speeding, and keep your trunk free of excess weight.
Actions In Your Community
- Support locally owned businesses, shop in farmer’s markets and consider becoming a member of a local CSA farm.
- Carpool whenever possible – especially if you have a long drive to work or for kids’ sports games.
- Support safe biking in your community and be careful and respectful with bikers.
- Do not idle, it wastes fuel and pollutes the air.
- Learn more about climate change and share what you learn with others, especially with your children.
- Support local climate action organizations.
Did you know the holiday season is the most wasteful time of the year? From Thanksgiving to the New Year, we generate 25 percent more waste than average. We can easily change that. One step at a time.
Instead of buying something, think about an experience that you can give instead. Dinner for two? A theater show? A day at a museum? A movie? A spa treatment? The options are infinite. That way you can grow memories, not trash.
If you prefer to give someone a physical gift, try a homemade one. Use your talents. Do you like to cook? Are you artistic? Do you like to write?
If your choice is to buy something, stay local:
- Shop second hand in a nearby consignment or antique store.
- Shop locally from a small business. It’s good for your community and it benefits the local economy.
- Visit an open studio in your neighborhood and buy directly from an artist.
Zero Waste Wrapping
Unfortunately wrapping paper, scotch tape and ribbons cannot be recycled due to coatings and dyes. Try these instead:
- Wrap with fabric. In Japan, fabric wrapping is so prevalent, it’s become an art form called “furoshiki”.
- Use newspapers and paper bags and decorate with raffia and plants, vines or pinecones.
- Choose reusable paper or cloth gift bags for simplicity.
- Cut last year holiday cards and use them as gift tags.
- And finally, send only fully recyclable holiday cards to family and friends. Remember that photo based cards and cards with glitter, foil or charms cannot be recycled.