Archive for Homes

DIY Vertical Garden

What a great way to add a little green to your outdoor space. No matter how small your outdoor space, this vertical garden is a simple way to add some colour, or maybe even some strawberries to your patio. This DIY project is super simple and inexpensive. In fact, some twine, a few nails and your leftover 2L plastic pop bottles are all you need! Of course, it’ll be a lot nicer if you add some dirt, seed or seedlings and water.

I think this would be a great way to start a beginner herb garden – keep each one in their own bottle, label them with a permanent marker and you have fresh herbs all summer long. Enjoy.


  • 2L bottles
  • Strings or Wire
  • For those using wire, you need 2 washers per bottle
  • Scissors
  • Dirt
  • Seeds or small plants

For a step by step tutorial check out this link:

Bottle Garden


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Refillable: Business is Booming in Vancouver

Reduce, reuse, recycle and REFILL! The refill phenomenon is taking Vancouver, and other major cities, by storm. From cleaning products, to personal care and even beer, shops all over the city are popping up to refill your containers.

The idea of reducing waste by creating refillable packages is not new. Method is a line of personal and household cleaning products sold in various major retail stores. They offer dispensers that are intended to be refilled with Methods refill products, which are sold in larger quantities and in reduced packing. Not everything they sell is refillable and not every store offers it. I know you can get your salon products refilled at some hair salons, but that is more about product type, not recycling. The fact is, until now, refillable was a nice thought, but offered little selection and still required packaging, and shipping to a store near you.

These new refill stores are offering an incredible selection of personal and household products, too many to list. Often made locally and/or in Canada, the products are generally cleaner, greener and safer. By requiring you to bring your own bottles, they are dramatically reducing the plastic waste that ends up in landfills or floating at sea.

While soap and shampoo refills are awesome, I have to say that the increased availability of Growlers is my favourite refill trend. What’s a growler? It’s a large bottle, similar to a milk jug, that’s made of glass and made to keep your fresh beer in your fridge for a few days. There are so many local breweries in Vancouver that offer these and who doesn’t want a fresh pitcher or Mocha Porter in the fridge?

For more information check out:


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Good-bye Summer . . . Now What?

Summer is on its way out, and with it the dreaded garage sale! Good news is you cleared out some clutter and made a little cash. The bad news is, you still have some junk sitting around taking up prime garage space or maybe tucked out of site in the backyard. It’s the dusty old kiddie pool or outgrown skis that you couldn’t sell and can’t throw into the trash. They haunt you as you try to skirt past them and squeeze into your car, they bring down your property value and mostly they are a reminder of how much time you spent trying to sell them!

There are a couple of options for people finding themselves sharing needed space with unwanted clutter:

  • Try to cram your outdated treasures into the back of, or strap to the roof of your compact car, drive to the city waste facility, wait in line, pay through the nose and drive home cursing the day you ever decided to try skiing/bought that kiddie pool etc.
  • Try to sell items online. A pretty simple solution once you get past the account creation, verification, emailing total strangers, giving out your home address, dealing with “no shows” and worrying about correct change.
  • Call Fresh Start. We show up on time, recycle, donate or trash as needed.

Let Fresh Start help you get a head start on preparing for fall.

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Does your community have a Share Shed?

Recently I was visiting a small Central BC town and helping a friend haul their recycling and garbage to the local dump. As we pulled up to the recycling area, I saw a couple of large shed structures, filled with useable donated items, with a big sign over that read Share Shed.

I asked my buddy what the Share Shed was and how it worked. He explained that some people come and drop off various items, from old mattresses, clothes, and toys to used lighting fixtures and garden decorations, and other people come and pick up what they might need.

A Share Shed – a simple idea that keeps tonnes of useable stuff out of the landfill and benefits other people. The added bonus being that it is located AT the dump, a one-stop-shop for donations, recycling and trash.

I did a little research to see if these Share Sheds were common in other cities and so far I don’t see a lot of them around. Does anyone have one in their town or know why they aren’t more common?

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Garburator – to have or not to have

There was a time that I was envious of my friends or family that had a garburator in their kitchen sink. Imagine; just peel those carrots – right INTO the sink – no muss, no fuss. It seemed easy, clean, and best of all, environmentally friendly! I imagined my chopped up food being returned to the earth to feed future plants and animals – the circle of life.

The day came when I moved into a place with a garburator of my very own! The boxes were barely unpacked before I was frantically peeling an orange and tossing the peel right in the sink! With excited anticipation and some dread I turned on the tap and flipped the switch. As I watched and heard my peel being mulched it occurred to me that I was running a lot of drinkable water down the drain… On one hand I would be keeping food waste out of the landfill, but could wasting so much water really be environmentally friendly?

The short answer is no, no the garburator is NOT environmentally friendly. In fact, many cities are banning them in new buildings. My instincts, when watching all that water wash down the drain, were correct, it is wasteful, but not only that. Garburators use electricity, the mulched food over-burdens our wastewater treatment facilities and increase the nitrate levels in the surrounding soil and water. On top of all that, the food residuals I had imagined feeding my future seafood and plants is chemically treated.

There are some people who argue that the banning of garburators is a missed opportunity, who say that with improved wastewater treatment facilities and methods, garburators could be an untapped environmental resource. From what I’ve seen so far, the days of green friendly garburators are not even in their infancy.

All that said, as with all things in life, it is important for you to discover what you can and decide for yourself.

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Renovating and want to be green?

Renovating a home or office building can be an exciting project – molding the place into a new form, turning it into the building you want it to be. However, the amount of trash this produces can be startling: chunks of drywall, old floorboards, pieces of furniture, shattered windows, broken doors. In fact, construction and demolition materials are 36% of all waste produced in Vancouver!

How can all this waste be avoided? Follow the follow steps to keep your renovation clean and green:

  1. Minimize Potential Waste

Before you start your renovation project, plan things out to minimize the potential waste:

  • Whenever possible, rearrange furniture and other objects within the building rather than actually adding or destroying parts of the building itself.
  • Dismantle instead of demolish and salvage what you can. This salvage can be reused by yourself, donated to someone else, or sold to a third party. Many newspapers and community websites have sections where you can announce things you’re giving away.
  • Once you come to the stuff that can’t be reused, make sure to separate them into clearly marked divisions of recyclable and regular waste.


  1. Recycle Whenever Possible

After you’ve dealt with the reusable material, move on to the recyclables. Where should recyclables go?

  • If organic, they can be composted.
  • If small enough, they can be placed in a recycling bin.
  • Scrap metal (steel, copper, etc.) and even appliance may be picked-up by a salvage yard.
  • Anything else can be dropped off at your local recycling center.


  1. Properly Dispose Of What’s Left

All remaining waste should be disposed of properly. Many old houses have various hazardous materials (asbestos, lead paint, mold, etc.), and they should be dealt with in the right way.


For Efficiency, Bring in the Professionals!

As we see, a lot of waste accumulates during demolition, and it’s pivotal that it ends-up in the right place. It’s of course possible for you to handle all the recycling and disposal yourself, but sorting and carting everything is a lot of work. It’s much easier and more efficient to bring in a professional removal company. Make sure the company is one that works with the environment, someone like Fresh Start Recycling & Disposal. We make certain everything gets divided-up correctly – the reusables, the recyclables, the hazardous waste, the regular waste – and once they’re classified, we send them off to the right places ourselves. Thanks to Fresh Start, you can have fun with your renovations and be confident that all your trash will be properly handled.

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5 Fresh Tips on De-cluttering

The change of seasons often brings the chance to de-clutter as you pack up the past season’s accoutrement and start unpacking the new (all those pool toys, sand buckets, table umbrella’s etc.).

Here are our 5 Fresh Tips on De-cluttering!

  1. Take it one space at a time! Like any job if you’re scope is too big you may become overwhelmed by not knowing where to start and either make a bigger mess (we all have those half started projects) or not start at all.
  2. Get three boxes (or spots on your garage floor) and label them “Dispose” “Keep” “Donate” and any item that is not immediately in use put into one of those categories. Remember items being donated should be in good repair or they will just end up being disposed of but at the expense of your favourite charity you’re trying to help.
  3. Organize! As you’re de-cluttering take note of what you use most and how you might optimally organize all those “keep” items and even organize the in-use items to prevent a future clutter problem. This is a great article that talks about systems for keeping you organized
  4. Set a time limit for working. An hour and a half or two hours and then take a break…coffee get fresh air etc. This will help you not get too overwhelmed.
  5. Set a deadline. Pre-book Big Brothers or your other favourite charity to pick up your “donate” items and FreshStart to pick up your “recycle” and “dispose” items and then work to those deadlines.

If you know you need to de-clutter but don’t have the will or time, our colleague from A Helping Hand Organizing Service is offering a 10% discount if you mention this article when you call to book.

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