Tiff's Tip #13 - Getting by with help from our friends

Feb 8, 2023

NRRI Sustainability Coordinator, Tiffany Sprague, culled tips from her colleagues for living our best eco-friendly life.

I get by with a little help from my friends.

February is here, and love is in the air. Rather than me recounting thy ways to care for Mother Nature, I asked my NRRI colleagues what they do to reduce waste and make the world a better place. Let’s dive right in and see what they had to say!

Beth Bernhardt: Bulk Shopper Aficionado

Costco recently made its way to Duluth, and Beth is a fan. The bigger the better! Large bottles of oils and spirits, for example, means better surface area to volume ratio, so less container material to recycle in the end. A win!

Jeremy Weizel: Container Reuse Extraordinaire

Single life for a plastic container? Not in the Weizel household! Containers get washed, dried and reused as many times as is feasible. This allows Jeremy and his family to buy in bulk, reduce how much plastic comes into the house in the first place, and divert plastics from our waste stream. Note the painters tape and sharpie - sustainability doesn’t have to look streamlined and fancy to be practical and effective!

Tim White: Sustainable Tech Guru

A self-proclaimed nerd, Tim doesn’t shy away from using fancy technology to help boost his sustainability game. Tim has an energy monitor program to track about 30 circuits in his household. This way he can target certain areas of the home, or particular electronics and devices, for reducing his family’s energy consumption. He has also installed a few smart outlets to control objects by the time of day, and a few smart lightbulbs that turn on and off based on sunrise/sunset. Giving real Jetsons vibes!

Rolf Weberg: The Errands Warrior

An array of canvas and net bags are safely stowed away in Rolf’s car, ready at a moment’s notice for use at all stores, not just the grocery store. Not only do the bags reduce waste from single-use plastic bags, Rolf’s sturdy canvas bags are easier to stuff and hold many more goodies than its single-use counterparts. Rolf likes to take his honey-do list one further by strategically planning out his travel route, minimizing single trips and reducing time in traffic. And if the weather’s favorable, he’ll walk or bike. Our landfills, and our lungs, thank you!

June Breneman: Trash Picking Superhero

Plastic grocery bags filled with trash sitting on ground

Ever walk by a piece of litter and think “gosh, why don’t people throw away their garbage?!” And yet you keep on walking… Not June! Pickers in hand, trash bag tied to her hip, June walks her nearby roads every spring after the snow has melted, collecting trash and recyclables from the ditch. Environmental stewardship need not be expensive or time consuming. Picking up litter in your neighborhood can last 5 minutes or 5 hours, and with little skills required, can involve the whole family!

Sara Post: Worm Whisperer

Sara likely can’t remember the last time she threw away a scrap of food, and that’s because Sara and her family are compost-aholics. When the weather is nice, they use a backyard composter - a self-proclaimed very lazy system. When they don’t want to trudge through the snow to their backyard composter, they’ll compost with the local municipality. Composting doesn’t need to be complicated, can be done inside or out, and is always worth checking if commercial composting options are available locally.

Victor Krause: The Thrifty Thrifter

A drive from Duluth to the Twin Cities is never boring for the Krause family because they’re bound to stop a time or two (or more) to pop into the smattering of thrift stores along I-35. And this isn’t a casual thrift stop - spreadsheets are involved! The Krause’s have a shared family spreadsheet where family members list what they are looking for, and when anyone is out and about thrifting, they can keep an eye out for items on the list. Not only a thrifter, handyman Victor also looks for items he can repurpose -- giving something old and unwanted a new life and a new purpose!

Inspiring. Warm and fuzzies. Full heart.

Until next month,

Tiff