Reduce Your Garbage at Home

You’ve mastered the blue box, and figured out how to compost your food scraps. Now what? Reducing waste is about making less of it. Not just recycling more.

  • Packing lunch in refillable containers, not recycling single-use containers.
  • Grocery shopping with a list so less food needs to be composted
  • Choosing e-billing and turning away junk mail, instead of recycling the paper after it arrives.

Region wide, garbage from residents (houses, apartments, condos) counts for nearly a third of the region’s waste (nearly 1 million tonnes per year). We asked hundreds of residents for their ideas on reducing waste at home.

Here are some of yours:

  1. Instead of figuring out how to expand recycling, think instead about how to reduce your waste.
  2. Love take-out? Try using your own containers; be polite and explain you are trying to reduce waste.
  3. Encourage friends and neighbours by setting a good example every day.
  4. Start with the largest or easiest to reduce items in your garbage can first.
  5. Allocate time to figuring out where to take things for reuse. Start with MVRecycles.
  6. Try putting a value on your waste. Calculate how much money you spent on the food you threw away. Or how many times you will use a new item and what each use will cost.
  7. Post little reminder notes for yourself like ‘Stop. Can you recycle that?’ on your garbage bin and ‘Bring your cloth bags for shopping’ on your coat hook.
  8. Learn about all the take back programs available in your community. Electronic toys, light bulbs, broken light fixtures, CDs, toasters, paint...
  9. Pack waste-free meals, sports and after-school snacks. Use reusable containers.
  10. Jot down a list of pros and cons for the benefits of buying more durable (albeit possibly more expensive) products instead of those made cheaply or likely to become obsolete.
  11. If you like clothing, research fabrics and styles that are durable.
  12. Be an ambassador for waste reduction in your building. Set examples, post helpful signage, offer your landlord or strata support.
  13. If you know of companies making positive change about reducing their impact on the environment, support them when you do your shopping.
  14. Out for the day? Take your own travel mug, choose less-packaged food.
  15. Say ‘no thanks’ when others give you things you find wasteful like handouts, ketchup packets, one time use promotional items
  16. Choosing gifts? Make memories, not garbage.

This is a partial list generated by Metro Vancouver residents when they were asked: If you want to reduce your waste, where can you start? If this list went up to 20, what would you add?

Challenge yourself to reduce your waste by another 10% this year.

Less garbage allows residents and businesses to use smaller bins, and require less frequent collection. This reduces costs, reduces trucks on the road and reduces the amount of waste in our landfills. It allows more time, money and resources to be spent on things other than garbage.