Zero Waste - Foraging for Firewood

In 2017 I started my zero waste journey. Zero Waste is the goal, mindful practice is the action. When I use the term Zero Waste, that is my ultimate goal, but Less Waste and Low Impact would be a more  accurate description of my evolving lifestyle. 

You may remember that when we moved to NJ we got a fire pit. It's one of the first household things we really wanted! I can't say it's our most used house hold item but when we do use it, we love it! 

One reason that we werren't using it too often was bc I hated buying firewood at the store. We mostly found it at big box stores, wrapped in plastic (!!) and who knows where it came from! We had seen many places where wood was for sale on the side of the road, but the idea of having to walk up and knock on a stranger's door always stopped us from getting it that way. Buying it locally online would mean buying a cord, which is way too much for our little fire pit.  

 Right now we just have piles of firewood in various places in the yard, as it gets to be fire season, we will chop and organize our stash. 

Right now we just have piles of firewood in various places in the yard, as it gets to be fire season, we will chop and organize our stash. 

Then one day we started picking up sticks, and logs and fallen branches. And as our stick pile grew and grew and as we started oooohing and ahhing when we saw a pile of discarded tree limbs on the side of the road, we realized that this was a viable way to gather wood for our fire. Now where ever we go we usually come home with a large stick or two. That person walking around the neighborhood dragging a large dead tree branch? That's me. We stick wood in our car, in our bags, carry it on our shoulders. Now that we have a large stick collection, we are just waiting for the weather to be nice enough to have a fire!

We realized that we like the mindful act of seeking out something useful when we are out, without buying anything. There have been some big wind storms lately, many trees lost limbs. It was a field day for us, and we liked the idea that instead of going to the local dump (and then who knows where? We don't have a compost or mulch pick program in our town), this debris would be used for something. We are happy to put to use something that most consider solely waste.

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Right now, we are only collecting fire wood casually but it got us thinking that this might be an affordable, zero waste, way to cut down on the none renewable resources we consume. If we were to install a wood stove to offset gas-heat usage, could we gather enough sticks to help heat our house?     

We're still in the research phase of this possible new plan but we are kind of excited to see where it might lead. Does anyone out there have any advice on wood stoves, firewood or foraging? Do you forage for anything in your neighborhood?