How a 3rd grader inspired a Williston business owner to ditch plastic straws

multi-colored plastic straws

Trivia time! What do the city of Seattle, Starbucks, and Ramunto’s Pizza all have in common? Answer: All three places have recently joined the growing movement to eliminate plastic straws. In 2015, after a cringe-worthy YouTube video of a straw stuck in a sea turtle’s nose went viral, a global movement began to grow around the problem of plastic pollution—single-use plastic straws, in particular. Although straws don’t represent a significant portion…

The garage cleanout: A spring cleaning guide

A well organized garage with a clean floor and equipment hanging on the walls.

Since moving to Burlington last fall, I haven’t dared step foot inside the chaos that is currently my garage. We had a lot of stuff, and not everything fit in the house. So it went into the garage. And there it sat…until now. I’ve been procrastinating cleaning out my garage for a while now, because it just seems so overwhelming. It’s hard enough to remember everything that’s in my garage…

Donating your leftover catered meals

Plates of food on buffet table.

You probably know by now what food waste looks like. But do you know what it sounds like? That sound has really stuck with me after years spent working in the restaurant and catering business. A cross between a “plop” and a “slurp,” it’s the noise made by trays full of fingerling potatoes, veggie lasagna, and pounds and pounds of other perfectly good, edible food sliding into a trash can…

Your holiday gift guide to not giving a thing

For over a decade, Cornell psychology professor Thomas Gilovich has been saying—and demonstrating in studies—that experiences make people happier than stuff. In other words, people like things to do (and look forward to, and look back on) rather than things to have. One of his studies, published by Psychological Science in 2014, found that the feeling of happiness extends well before the experience itself. In an article about the study,…

Take the challenge: Spend a month without plastic

Every July, over a million people around the world take the Plastic Free July Challenge. It’s a simple step: Just stop accepting single-use plastics for one month.   Here’s why: ​The plastic bottles, bags and takeaway containers that we use just for a few minutes use a material that is designed to last forever. These plastics: Break up, not break down – becoming permanent pollution Are mostly downcycled (made into…

Post-holiday un-shopping guide

While the glow of Christmas gift-giving and receiving is still fresh, it’s time to think about what to do with old possessions that have been replaced by something shiny and new. Here’s how to keep as much as possible in use, or—at the very least—out of the landfill: Electronics Out with the old, in with the new…gizmo? Thanks to the Vermont E-Cycles program, Vermont residents and businesses may bring  old…

Keep your holiday spirit out of the landfill: 3 easy ways

We get it. You don’t need another thing to focus on in the hustle and bustle of the holidays. We’re here to show you how easy it is to cut a lot of the waste out of shopping, decorating, and throwing a party. 1. While shopping & decorating Keep reuseable shopping bags in your car—and visible!—so you don’t forget to use them. Shop for a gift to share—with you! Wrap…

Recycling iPhone app created by South Burlington students

A team of young Vermont students called the Green Mountain Gears presented their app at the 2016 FIRST Lego League Global Innovation Award, organized by X Prize. The app, called “Sorta Scrappy,” is no longer available for download. This quick, cute game takes you on a journey along the waste stream, as the background progresses from your home to the transfer station to the landfill. Sort materials into their correct…

2016 Changes to Disposal Law & How They Affect You

These policies and requirements are in effect for Chittenden County as of July 1, 2016: Trash haulers must offer leaf & yard debris collection service. Leaf & yard debris is already banned from the landfill. Now haulers who offer trash collection must also offer a service to collect leaf & yard debris, separate from other waste. They may charge for this service. Haulers are not required to offer collection of…

New: Hazardous Materials Management Guide for Schools

We recently published a new guide to hazardous materials management for Chittenden County schools, in collaboration with area teachers, administrators, janitors, and state policymakers. The guide is written primarily for maintenance and custodial staff, including Facilities Directors at the district level as well as those handling hazardous materials on a daily basis. How does a brochure like this come into being? Well, it doesn’t write itself—that’s for sure. After circulating…