Computer parts e-cycling at ERA in south Vancouver. Just one of many stops.
What a relief it is to be able to actually move around my garage this weekend without tripping over something. Last weekend we set about trying to really purge, and as much as possible take the guidance of the Recycling Council of BC and dispose of things responsibly. Coincidentally, RCBC are conducting a "Zero Waste Conference" this week at Whistler, so I hope that some of the delegates who may read this take my comments in the spirit they are written, which is to say that despite some progress we have a long way to go to be better managers of waste in Metro Vancouver.
The effort put into dividing up the different types of waste products, and the lengths taken to make sure they went to the proper disposal facility I don't expect many others to try and repeat. It's just a whole lot easier to throw it all into an unlocked dumpster somewhere and forget about it.
Here's a list of the types of items we decided to give away and the steps taken to dispose of them.
- Old clothes. Depending on the type of clothes they would either get dropped into one of the many donation bins located around town. Some nicer attire and leather shoes I wanted to drop off at Covenant House, but due to lack of time and traffic I just took to Salvation Army instead.
- Old books. I dropped a bag of pretty new books (some I found dumped in my lane) and slipped them in one of the book donation bins popping up around town. There's one just off Fraser Street in my neighourhood that sits next to a clothes bin that, despite a sign warning of a fine for dumping, had a large pile of kids' toys scattered on the street in front of it.
- Old caulking and cleaning products (in aerosol cans and plastic bottles). Tried to drop it off at East Side Bottle Depot but they refused to take it. Called Recycling Hotline and while they sounded sympathetic they said the only option was to dump it in the garbage.
- Old paint. Dropped off at Joe's Bottle Depot on Main and 28th. Only open business hours and limited weekend hours. Just pulled up and gave it to them no questions asked.
- Old solvents such as paint thinner and paint stripper, and insecticides. Took these to East Side Bottle Depot at East Broadway & Kaslo and they accepted them gladly after reading the labels on each container.
- TV set. I had a 32" set that only could be dropped off at Salvation Army at 12th & Main. Back to Sally Ann I went. Lucky for me it's fairly close to home, but a good distance from other corners of the city.
- Old computer monitor, laptop, desktop PC and cables. Dropped these all off at ERA (Electronic Recycling Association) who have been trying to advocate for more re-use in BC & Alberta. They claim that laws are working against their re-use program.
- Scrap metal such as old shelving, locks. Luckily the City of Vancouver makes it pretty easy to unload metal products at their Kent Street transfer station and it's free to do so.
- Compact fluorescent bulbs. I made a special trip to Home Depot to drop off about 6-8 expired CF bulbs. You have to enter the store and the bin is located in their customer service/returns desk area of the store.
- Expired batteries, wall warts and battery packs. Again, Kent Street has a barrel available for these, but you need to ask because there is no sign posted for this and it is hidden from view.
- Expired propane containers. Kent Street will take these, too, as well as old kitchen appliances.
- Anti-freeze. This is pretty poisonous stuff that some animals are attracted to, and to my surprise there is no contingency for disposing of bottles of anti-freeze. It's recommended that you take any old containers of auto lubricants and fluids to your local Canadian Tire Auto Centre.
When it comes to getting rid of our stuff in an environmentally sustainable way, Metro Vancouver are much further ahead than many jurisdictions who resolve to throw this stuff into landfills. However, we should take more appropriate steps to make waste disposal less of a citywide odyssey and more of a natural habit.
Take our new CityCaucus.com Poll! Do you think cities need to make the disposal of e-waste and toxic substances simpler?