YSEALI Adventures

Dumping your ex? Recycle your old love at Home ReSource!



Happy Valentine’s Day.

EcoCupid wishes every couple a happy and lovely Valentine’s Day!  But if you have just broken up and you feel sad, you might want to throw your ex’s stuff in the trash.


RELAX and READ this article first!

(Feature Photo: Weeraya Vichayaprasertkul)

My name is Min. I’m from Thailand. I’m a documentary filmmaker and I’m such a film nerd.

In 2019, There was a phenomenal Thai movie named “Happy Old Year”. The story of the movie is about a woman who wants to clean up her house and convert it into a home office. She wants to throw away anything that has been lying around unused. However, she faces a great challenge when she comes across some items that belonged to her ex-boyfriend.

After this movie was screened, my online social feed was full of house clean-ups and zero-waste content. That was a new phenomenon because zero-waste isn’t the first thing that we will think about.

Keep Calm and Throw Your Waste, Everywhere?

From this scene, you can see several large black trash bags. Thai people like to throw everything in one bag and mix every kind of waste together like mixed fruit juice. It’s easy. We like to do it! 

Thailand has been trying to drive zero-waste movements for many years but we haven’t had much success yet. Especially for construction waste, Thailand still uses an unbelievably mind-blowing way to manage it.

Pictures of construction waste dumped together with other types of waste along the roadside of Thailand. (Weeraya Vichayaprasertkul)

Waste? Roadside. 

This is the masterpiece art of waste created by humans. You can see the multicultural diversity of waste such as wood, rock, ceramic, cement, steel, bricks, plumbing pipes, foam, plastic, clothes, and food waste. Not to mention the sprawling population of bacteria filling up all the spaces like the forever traffic in Bangkok. I believe Vincent van Gogh will stand up and applaud this amazing art. Come to Thailand and Southeast Asia to explore more waste art along the roadside.

Say ‘No’ to Disposable Culture

Home ReSource from Missoula, Montana, tries to make that culture disappear and replace it with the zero-waste idea. They try to take perfectly good building materials out of landfills and into the hands of the community. Repurposing waste into things people want is at the heart of the zero-waste concept. It makes local economies more sustainable and secular.

Home ReSource is a nonprofit community sustainability center in Missoula, Montana, USA. It’s also a second-hand building materials store.

When I have the opportunity to learn zero-waste management at Home Resource. I’m glad to hear that Thailand is not the only country that likes a ‘disposable’ culture. Maybe we are not so different after all.

“Whenever we were talking about zero waste, it is a cultural stance. Because a lot of countries think, at least in America for sure, that we like ‘disposable’ culture. This is something I’m gonna purchase and when I’m done with it, I’m just gonna throw it away.”, says Michelle Barton, a zero-waste education manager of Home ReSource.

Donation drop centre at Home ReSource. People can donte unwanted construction materials or waste here. (Weeraya Vichayaprasertkul)

Home ReSource receives construction materials from people in Missoula who are willing to donate it. Donators can drop materials at the store by themselves but Home ReSource offers a free pick-up service for large donations. After they receive materials from donors, staff will select and sort the donated items. They then clean it and resell it in the store at a lower price. Donors love to do it because they are eligible for tax deductions if they do so.

Michelle explains that second-hand building materials are much more affordable, and it reduces the raw materials required to make new stuff. 

Home ReSource might sound like a junkyard but the shop is so clean, crafty, and creative. The staff sorted things in an orderly manner, like how you would arrange your ex’s stuff if you can’t let go. There are enough materials here to build a brand-new, warm house. They have doors, windows, lighting, sinks, toilets, mirrors, tiles, carpets, bricks, and even old clocks. But I’m so sorry, no ex’s or soulmates here.

Gallery: Home ReSource. (Weeraya Vichayaprasertkul)

Deconstruction over Demolition

Home ReSource works pretty closely with the city council of Missoula and local businesses. They actively try to make new partners who are doing demolition to convince them to push for more deconstruction.

“When a building is deconstructed, that means all the materials are reusable. When a building is demolished, it gets knocked down and dragged to the landfill, and none of those materials are used. So, I work pretty closely with a lot of the city government and local entities such as businesses and establishments like hospitals and the universities.”, says Michelle.

To push for their cause, Home ReSource supports other organisations doing important work in their community through their Materials Giving Program. They have donated free or discounted materials recovered from deconstruction to more than 97 nonprofits, schools, and community events for construction projects.

Zero-waste Education

When I was exploring the store, I saw a big dinosaur made from scrap metal and a circle image made from scrap nails and knobs. Moreover, I was surprised that I found a miniature golf game produced from toilet bowls and old water pipes. It’s so creative!

Junk crafts made at the Home ReSource center. (Weeraya Vichayaprasertkul)

At the center, there is a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Maths) workshop room full of various equipment and tools that kids can use to produce handicrafts. Home ReSource teaches children to see the value of waste and create new works of art. They like to inspire the next generation of sustainability leaders. This STEM-aligned education program now reaches almost 100% of Missoula’s 5th graders annually. Among the things, they do include interactive classroom visits, hands-on field trips to Home ReSource, and a tour of Missoula’s landfill to teach students about local and global waste impacts.

Zero-waste artwork in the Home ReSource STEM room. (Weeraya Vichayaprasertkul)

They also have a ‘Fix It Clinic’.  It is a workshop where community members can bring their worn, broken, or malfunctioning items and learn to repair them. Skilled volunteers would come and teach them simple repair know-how, and it helps to reduce the amount of stuff binned and replaced. Pretty neat!

Michelle stresses the need for both education and infrastructure changes for a zero-waste cultural shift to happen. Shifting from a linear economy to a circular economy requires continuous effort.

From the humble garage, with love

Home ReSource started with just a couple of students from the University of Montana’s Environmental Studies program. The founders noticed that there was a lot of waste going into the community, specifically in construction. They recognized the problem, and they tried to solve it for their community. So they started Home ReSource in their garage back in 2003. 

20 years on, Home ReSource saved more than 900 tonnes of construction materials from landfills and cycled back into the community. They now employ 20 permanent staff and up to 15 more temporary employees and interns each year. Up to 96% of their revenue (nearly a million USD a year) is spent in the local economy. They also make a lot of donations to local nonprofits, schools, and community events.

Well, if you stayed around till this point, I hope you’ve calmed down and changed your mind to not throw your ex’s stuff or your construction waste to the landfill. Maybe you can donate it to an NGO that will recycle your stuff or you can make a new masterpiece of art from your ex’s stuff. I believe Vincent van Gogh will be very very proud of you!

Happy Valentine’s Day again♥

(Edited by Bryan Yong)

Weeraya Vichayaprasertkul

Weeraya Vichayaprasertkul (Min) is a documentary filmmaker who has travelled to 71 of 77 provinces in Thailand. She believes that communicating environmental stories through fun and love is a powerful tool that drives the environmental movement. She is a cat and food lover.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2024 EcoCupid all rights reserved.