A Practical Guide to Low Waste Living in Vancouver, Washington
In our community, there’s wisdom to be shared and resources to discover. Seeking to live a zero-waste life is not about solitary heroics but finding strength and knowledge through connections. Local recycling centers, farmers’ markets, and sustainability groups often form the backbone of this endeavor. These are places where goods can be found that have stories, where faces are familiar, and where the heartbeat of a neighborhood is palpable.
Sometimes, the task may seem daunting, but small, everyday choices can have profound effects. A reusable water bottle, choosing to compost, or simply engaging in conversations with like-minded individuals are all threads in the fabric of this lifestyle. To make it a bit easier, we’d like to share some local resources for folks here in Vancouver, just over the bridge in Portland, or new friends that may be passing through.
Welcome to Your Neighborhood Low Waste Store, That’s Us!
For folks who may not be familiar with us…Kindred Homestead Supply was born out of a passion for making a difference and building a longer table (not higher walls). We recognized the need for a space where people could access sustainable alternatives to everyday products without the packaging that weighs down our planet. We wanted to bring folks together and build a healthier future in the gorgeous PNW. Our mission is to make low-waste shopping an alternative but also a joyful and nourishing experience.
The Refillery and How It Works:
Bring your containers, and we’ll fill them with goodness! Our bulk refillery offers an extensive range of home and personal care products. It’s incredibly simple: you bring the containers, and we provide high-quality, sustainable goods to fill them up. Don’t have your containers? Our fantastic community members have brought us label free glass jars so you can use ’em for free! (and yes, we take glass jar donations).
The Recycling Center: Where Waste Gets a Second Chance… maybe.
Recycling, often hailed as the savior in waste reduction, has its part to play, albeit with a grain of salt. It’s said to work wonders - taking materials like paper, glass, plastics, and metals on a magical journey from your recycle bin to being reborn as new products. The cold reality is that recycling systems can be deeply flawed. The sorting, the contamination, and the “aspirational recycling” sometimes feels like a whirlpool of confusion. Reducing and reusing are the unsung heroes that deserve a standing ovation.
That said, we’ve got some local resources (including this blog) that want to educate folks about how to understand our local system better and get involved with creating new and better ones.
- West Van Materials Recovery Center: Located in Vancouver, this center accepts a variety of recyclable materials including cardboard, plastics, metals, and paper.
- City of Vancouver’s Curbside Recycling Program: The city also offers curbside Recycling for residents, where recyclable materials can be conveniently placed in designated bins for collection.
- Earth Friendly Recycling: A family-owned small business, these folks are committed to saving our landfills from reusable electronics waste and other renewable products including styrofoam!
Composting: Give Back to the Earth
- Yard Debris and Composting Collection Service: Many residents in Vancouver have access to curbside yard debris collection, which often includes compostable materials like food scraps. This program allows residents to conveniently compost materials in the provided bins for regular collection.
- Community Gardens and Composting Sites: In Vancouver, community gardens are prevalent, and they often incorporate composting. Community gardens sometimes have communal composting bins where members can contribute kitchen scraps and yard waste. To find community composting near you check out ShareWaste.com or MakeSoil.Org.
- Composting Workshops and Education: Whether you’re new to composting or need a refresher, check out ClarkCountyComposts.org for free/donation-based workshops to help you understand the benefits and the proper methods.
Farmers Market: A Fresh Approach to Shopping
Farmer’s Markets play a vital role in promoting sustainable living by providing our local community access to fresh, locally-sourced produce and products. When consumers purchase goods from the market, they’re actively reducing the carbon footprint associated with the long-distance transportation of goods. Take it a step further and look for farmers that practice sustainable agricultural practices, which contribute to the conservation of soil and biodiversity. If you ask us, farmers’ markets serve as a nexus for environmental stewardship, community engagement, and holistic well-being.
Buy Nothing Groups: The Joy of Giving and Receiving
In an age where consumerism often seems to run rampant, the Buy Nothing movement emerges as a breath of fresh air. The movement, which started in 2013, is founded on the simple yet powerful principle of sharing within one’s community. It’s about rediscovering the value of giving freely and reducing waste. This grassroots initiative encourages individuals to offer up items they no longer need, and to post requests for items they do. The magic lies in the fact that no currency changes hands. It’s not about barter or trade; it’s about sharing freely. While they are primarily found on social platforms, they also have a Buy Nothing App for those who opt out of the socials.
As we move forward, let’s continue to share insights and experiences and do so with a sense of grace. Let’s be patient with ourselves and each other. We’re all doing the best we can, with what we know.
Thank you for being here. Your presence adds immeasurably to the richness of this space. Whether you’re taking the first steps towards a zero-waste life or have long embraced the journey, there’s much to be gleaned from sharing our collective knowledge.
Take a deep breath. Feel the weight of the world, but also the buoyancy of possibilities. Let’s venture into this together.