Ways to Recycle Your Stuff

There is a reason why recycling comes last in the whole “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle” mantra. Recycling is great, but it should be the last thing you do after trying to reduce your consumption and reusing the thing you’re thinking of throwing out. I used to think that recycling meant I was doing a good deed but it turns out that a whopping 91% of recycled plastic is discarded as trash How crazy is that? Now that’s not to say we shouldn’t try to recycle at all. Despite the depressing statistic, every little bit we do helps. I live in a household that still produces waste but I try to find every resource available in my community to recycle things I have to eventually part ways with. Here are ways to recycle your stuff!

Blue Bins

In the Greater Toronto Area, Blue Bins have been the staple for us to recycle our plastics, glass and other items. Each municipality has a great “What Goes Where” tool to let you know exactly what to place in your bins.

Here is the one for the City of Markham where I currently reside. But most importantly, CLEAN the items you are going to recycle or you risk contaminating perfectly recyclable items.

FUN (more like depressing?) FACT: Did you know black plastic is NOT recyclable? Takeout containers, mushroom containers, black plastic cutlery, etc. Avoid these like the plague!

Also, don’t use take-out coffee cups as they are NOT recyclable! Most coffee shops such as Second Cup and Starbucks do allow for the use of reusable cups but places like McDonald’s do not last time I checked.

Green Bins

The handy dandy bin for all your stinky stuff. Scraps, vegetable odds and ends, coffee grounds, basically anything that you eat and that may be wet.

FUN FACT: Did you know you can place shredded paper in your Green Bin? Diapers and menstrual pads can also go in the green bin!

Recycling Depots/E-Waste Drop Off

Great for items not picked up curbside, like batteries, styrofoam, ink cartridges, light bulbs, and plastic bags or larger electronic items. I hoard my styrofoam and plastic bags in the garage until I collect enough to bring to the recycling depots every few months . The people there are always so helpful to help you sort your items.

FUN FACT: Unfortunately, not all plastic bags are recyclable. I was told that if you can poke your finger through the plastic, the recycling depot can take it and recycle it for you!

If in doubt, save it and bring it to the recycling depot. They will be able to tell you if they can recycle it.

Textile Recycling Bins

There are textile recycling bins all across the City of Markham. Not only do they take used clothes but also ANY linens like drapes, tablecloths or even shoes! Just make sure they are dry and clean.

Click here for more information from the  City of Markham.

Repair Cafes

In York Region, there is a Repair Cafe held every month in different municipalities of York Region that can repair your broken household items for free!

Check out more information about the Repair Cafes here.

Donate or Sell

Finally, there are plenty of places that take used items (Canadian Diabetes Association, Salvation Army, Value Village) or you can make a few bucks using reselling platforms such as Kijiji, Depop, Bunz, Carousell… the list goes on! I’ll be doing a review on some of the platforms I used in the past.

For larger household items, Habitat REStore is a great place to check out. We have donated our bathroom vanities, light fixtures and faucets in the past and they will do pick-ups if there is a large number of items they are interested in.

 TL/dr – there are many ways to recycle your stuff but recycling is not the answer. Think about rescuing your items and giving it a second life before you part ways with it. And always reduce > reuse > recycle.

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