What to do with stuff you no longer want? First rule: if it's not irreparably broken, donate or resell it. But what if nobody wants it?
Recycling hard-to-recycle items isn't as tricky as you might think! Find solutions for some of the most common challenges — including lights, eye glasses, cell phones and mattresses — in my FAQ's section.
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Regional and provincial departments are getting good at summarizing local options. The Recycling Council of British Columbia's Recyclepedia, streamlines information from all major non-profit recycling associations in the province.
If a one-stop shop is more your style, a recycling company will happily take many items for a reasonable fee. And this may be your only option for troublesome plastics that can't be returned to either the manufacturer or retailer. But before you pack off your treasured 90's CD and DVD collection (or phone for a pickup), check out websites like Pinterest. Your trash could be crafting gold for an upcycling project.
Socially responsible companies are also making it easier:
Batteries: Call 2 Recycle boxes are located in recycling depots, retail locations, community centres or non-profit offices across Canada. Find one using the interactive map.
Electronics: Some municipal depots now accept electronics. If yours does not, Best Buy and Future Shop offer comprehensive electronics recycling programs in all their locations. Finally, many manufacturers — including Sony, Samsung and Apple — recycle their products and list drop-off locations on their sites. (Apple doesn't buy back products in Canada, but you can return batteries to their stores.)
CD/DVDs: Future Shop and Best Buy accept these but, as far as I can tell, there is no capacity to actually recycle them in Canada so they are shipped away (mostly overseas).
Packaging: London Drugs' Bring Back the Pack program accepts packaging from any product purchased in their stores, and diverts it for local recycling.
Coffee cups: Although some Canadian Starbucks and Tim Horton's locations now collect cups, recycling paper cups is wrought with complications. Ask for a mug or bring your own commuter cup.
Food & candy wrappers: Terracycle has take-back programs for all sorts wrappers! Print prepaid shipping labels and send to them directly. London Drugs has partnered with Terracycle on selected collections — visit the site to see which items can be returned there.
Garage stuff: Even used saw blades and drill bits can be returned to Rona!
The idea that having less stuff actually makes us happier is gaining traction. As recycling gets easier, we can get rid of clutter with less cost to the Earth!
Tovah Paglaro, The Queen of Green