On the third Saturday of every month a recycling depot is set up in the parking lot of the Britannia Community Centre off Commercial Drive. It’s called Beyond the Blue Box (BTBB) and they take many of the waste items (with the exception of compost) I typically throw in the garbage. I started collecting recyclables for BTBB about 2 years ago and the process of doing so has transformed how I think about consumption, waste, and commitment. A big impact in my household has been the incredible reduction in the production of waste. We now produce one small bag of landfill garbage every 3-4 weeks. Here’s a sampling of the things that now get recycled in my household: hard & soft plastics (candy wrappers, meat packaging, plastic bags, toothbrushes, most product packaging, pens, any hard plastics that can’t go in the city blue box), foil plastic (chocolate & protein bar wrappers, chip packages, the little foil tabs on soy and almond milk containers, some tea bag wrappers), styrofoams (meat trays, take-out containers), beverage containers/tetra packs (milk & milk alternatives, juice containers, soup containers), metals (pie plates), small appliances, and e-waste (batteries, tvs, etc.).
At first I thought that committing to reducing household waste in this way would take a lot of time and organization. Not so! It’s about forming new habits. Habits like not automatically throwing stuff in the garbage. I know think two or three times before I throw something in the garbage. I pause and take deliberate stock of what I am holding in my hand, spend a moment assessing it, and then decide if it goes in the BTBB pile or the trash can. I have also found that I pause when I shop, examine a product’s packaging and often determine whether I can buy something with less packaging. I wash and air dry any plastics or styros that contained meat or fish, for obvious reason. But, even that doesn’t take much time. Habits and routine. At home, I’ve set up a couple of sorting bags in my pantry – you don’t have to sort ahead of time though. The BTBB depot is set up with sorting stations, so you can haul all your stuff there and do it right there. There is a small cost at the depot, but it is small. I had two full bags of various items last weekend and it cost $2.
So, I joined the long line-up of Vancouverites with bags of stuff on a brilliant fall day and felt responsible for my consumption, and a little hopeful that a culture shift is underway. Join the revolution! Check the schedule at Britannia. Find out more about Beyond the Blue Box in Vancouver, run by Pacific Mobile Depots.