Tips and tricks to step into a zero waste lifestyle

ElectroRecycle is all about encouraging British Columbians to consider the “5 Rs” of waste management: refuse-reduce-reuse-repair and finally, recycle. We are strong supporters of opportunities that promote a zero waste lifestyle, such as local Repair Cafes, and it is always very inspiring to learn new ways to give a second life to our broken items. Participating at these types of events is also a great way to surround yourself with like-minded people who care, like you and like us, about the environment, and to learn more about what we can do to help make the world a better place.

Rethink

Whether you are starting on a greener journey, or reflecting on your everyday decisions, a great introductory step is to pause and rethink the way we live. Do I really need that new toaster or am I just bored with how this one looks? What are the reasons behind me wanting something new? Is it a product of advertising? Is my item actually broken and ready for recycling?

Refuse

Rethinking the way we consume begins with refusing. That might be the hardest part as we are constantly surrounded by temptations. Refusing will encourage you to say “no” to a single-use plastic cup for your morning coffee and “yes” to a reusable coffee mug instead. The more people refuse, the more manufacturers are encouraged to rethink the production of their products in a more circular and sustainable way, including the use of recycled materials instead of new. 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:

  • Buy local and in season at your Farmers Market, reducing use of single-use plastic packaging
  • Bring your reusable coffee mug with you
  • Choose quality over quantity, and look for products that are made from post-consumer recycled materials
Eco Warrior Princess

Reduce

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

3 easy tips:

  • Try having a minimal wardrobe with neutral colors – check out Project333
  • When it comes to gifts, prioritize experiences over physical things
  • Borrow instead of buying – The Thingery, the Tool Library, or even the local public library are great resources to keep your home free from clutter!
Vancouver Tool Library

Reuse and Repair

Is your blender broken? Repair it! Communities around the world 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 you money, teach you how to fix an item, and can increase a sense of community by encouraging you to engage with community members that share a common interest. Remember, a little repair could go a long way and prevent unnecessary waste. And if you feel like refreshing your wardrobe or giving a new vibe to your home, try buying second-hand items instead!

3 easy tips:

  • Reuse your old clothes for a new purpose: try making makeup remover cotton pads or perhaps a fabric strip to wash your bike
  • Participate in a neighborhood swap and exchange your old things for second-hand “new” things. Have you checked BUNZ out?
  • Find out more about your closest Repair Cafe
ElectroRecycle and Repair Matters’ event at NADA, April 2019

Recycle

After re-wiring 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! This should be how recycling is thought of, the final “R” and last resort to managing your broken and irreparable items.

3 easy tips to recycle:

  • Find the closest depot to you on our website! – there are more than 200 depots across BC that accept small appliances and power tools for recycling
  • Donate your clothes: The Waste Wizard has a full list of Vancouver locations that accept clothing in any condition for reuse and recycling, search “Clothing & Linens – worn out, ripped, damaged”
  • Keep an eye open for Zero Waste Drop Off events happening year round, or reach out to your local municipality to see what might be available in your community

We hope that these tips and tricks will help you 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. 🙂