Tips and tricks to step into a zero waste lifestyle

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ElectroRecycle is all about encouraging British Columbians to consider the “5 Rs” of waste management: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repair and finally, Recycle. We support initiatives that help us move into a zero-waste lifestyle, such as local Repair Cafes, where we’ve been inspired to learn how to give a second life to broken items. These events are a great place for like-minded people who care about the planet, like you – and us! – to come together and share valuable knowledge and connection.


Whether you are moving towards a zero-waste lifestyle, or just starting to reflect on your everyday decisions, pausing and rethinking is a great introductory step. Do I really need that new toaster or am I just bored with how this one looks? If broken, can I repair it? What are the reasons behind me wanting something new? Is it a product of advertising?


We can start to rethink the way we consume by refusing. As we’re constantly surrounded by temptations, this can be the hardest part. Say “no” to a single-use plastic cup for your morning coffee and “yes” to a reusable coffee mug instead. Refusing encourages manufacturers to rethink the production of their products in a more circular and sustainable way, including the use of recycled materials instead of new ones. Prioritizing higher-quality purchases may also cost you less in the long run as the cheaper option may break more easily, needing to be replaced sooner rather than later.

3 easy tips:

  1. Buy local and in season at your local Farmers Market, reducing single-use plastic packaging
  2. Bring your reusable coffee mug with you
  3. Choose quality over quantity, and look for post-consumer recycled materials

    Image source: blackCAT, Canva


Each Vancouver resident tosses an average of 44 t-shirts into the garbage each year, according to Metro Vancouver. This is an enormous amount of material going into landfills. It’s a clear indication that we have way more than what we need, or even wear! In a time of fast fashion refer to the Marie Kondo method and cherish what you have, thinking thrice before throwing away.

3 easy tips:

  1. Try having a minimal wardrobe with neutral colors – check out Project333
  2. When it comes to gifts, prioritize experiences over physical things
  3. Borrow instead of buying – The Thingery, the Tool Library, or even your local public library are great resources

    Vancouver Tool Library.

Reuse and Repair

Did your blender break? Repair it! People worldwide have been organizing events to offer free, or by donation, repairs of small appliances, power tools, electronics, and even garments, textiles and ceramics. Repairing can save money, teach you how to fix an item, and instill a deeper sense of community. Remember, a little repair can go a long way towards preventing unnecessary waste. If you do feel like refreshing your wardrobe or giving your home a new vibe, try buying second-hand items instead!

3 easy tips:

  1. Reuse your old clothes for a new purpose, by stitching some makeup remover cotton pads or perhaps a fabric strip to wash your bike
  2. Participate in a neighborhood swap and exchange your old things for second-hand “new” things. Have you checked BUNZ out?
  3. Find out more about your closest Repair Cafe
A zero waste lifestyle can include repairing broken items rather than throwing them away
ElectroRecycle and Repair Matters’ event at NADA, April 2019


After rewiring your grandmother’s ancient stand mixer for the tenth time but it’s got nothing left to give, it may be time to consider a trip to the recycling depot! Recycling is the final “R”, the last resort to managing broken, irreparable items.

3 easy tips to recycle:

  1. Find the closest small appliance and power tool recycling depot to you on our website! – we partner with more than 250 depots across BC that accept over 400 small appliances and power tools for recycling.
  2. Donate or recycle your clothes.  Search for locations using the Recycling Council of BC’s Recyclepedia. Options for clothing in both reusable and non-reusable conditions can be found.
  3. Look out for Recycling Drop Off events happening in your community, reach out to your local municipality to see what might be available near you. For example, the Township of Langley has an event coming up on October 23 and 24, 2021!

Recycling small appliances at an ElectroRecycle event

We hope these tips and tricks inspire you to embrace a greener lifestyle. To Zero Waste Chef Anne-Marie Bonneau’s point, “we don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” Thanks for practicing the 5 Rs with us!

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