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Be Green

The Green Clean Guide

Image courtesy GoGo Cards.

Spring (or any) cleaning can be a wonderful thing. It helps free up space, both physical and psychic. But there's just one big, fat, hairy problem (that often prevents us green types from getting organized): what do you do with all that stuff?
The usual attitude is "out of sight, out of mind". But you can see why that might be an issue for the planet. Too much of what we use is designed to break quickly and then last forever in the landfill. Go figure.
So I went to the Eco-Quartier St Jacques to speak with Mike Hawrysh who finally gave me a simple answer to a complicated question.
Read on (or watch the video)


If you want the short answer:
When in doubt, take it to the Eco Centre. An Eco Centre is NOT the same at as an Eco Quartier. The former is a warehouse-like space where people bring old furniture, mattresses, paint, broken or vintage electronics, household items, toys, etc. An Eco Quartier on the other hand is more of an advice office. You go there to get your green bins or recycling bags and for advice on all things green. Some Eco Quartiers are helpful and will accept old batteries and curly lightbulbs... but you really should call first. Find the one closest to you on this list.


Obviously anything that still has some life in it in its current form should be re-used. Just because you've fallen out of love with something doesn't mean it can't be someone else's treasure. Consider the following options for household and personal items that you're done with:
* Clothing swap One of the most fun ways to pass an evening because it's like shopping, but for free. Get together a bunch of friends who will all brings stuff that's in good condition. Make sure there's privacy (to try stuff on) and include items like accessories and cosmetics. True, some cosmetics should NEVER be shared (eye stuff is a great example), but for perfumes or bath gels, the rules can be a little laxer. Especially if you know the person who's surrendering the bottle. Find more tips on how to organize a successful swap here.

* Donate to charity: Contact your local chartiy like the Salvation Army or Renaissance. Or Sun Youth. This is a particularly good option for outgrown sports equipment, furniture that's in good shape, appliances that still work and of course, clothing that no one wanted even at the swap.

What about prescription meds?
Okay, these you DEFINITELY don't want to toss down the drain or leave in the landfill. Just take them back to your pharmacy. Simple as that. All pharmacies are supposed to have a drug take-back program.

Cellphones anyone?
Okay, did you know this? You can take your old/broken cellphones to your local fire station! Also the Eco Centre of course, but fire stations tend to be more accessible for those of us who depend on public transport. Did everyone know about this? I didn't!

So, are you planning a big clean? What do you worry about when you toss something in the trash (or recycling)?
Leave me a comment or call our talkback line (514) 597-5626

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Comments (4)

P MacAfee


Love your segment and find it really helpful.
I didn't hear you mention last night about how to dispose of old batteries.
Please comment.
Thank you

Actually, you should just take them to the Eco Centre. The greenest thing of course would be to switch to rechargables, so the number of throw aways is minimal.

Posted February 3, 2009 01:37 PM

Jim Geroges


You also have to remember that the recycle logo is not a mention of the product 'recyclability'. The important thing to know is that the number inside tells us if the product is recylcable or not. So, following the logic, it could also means that a product without this logo is recyclable. That goes to show all the grey areas in the green field... So, to be safe, put it in the bin !

Posted February 4, 2009 03:09 PM

Nicole Noon


I've got a stack of books, of all kinds, which I have no idea who to donate them to. I used to leave them curbside when I lived on the Plateau, and watch as people picked them up within minutes, but I no longer live in a densely populated area. Ideas?

Geeta writes:
You could donate them to your local Salvation Army. Good ones (as in books you really enjoyed you could put towards Book Crossing (it's the world's biggest free book club)
Learn more at: http://www.bookcrossing.com/
Finally, many charitable organizations will send books to Africa or other developing nations to create free libraries for folks living there. I just contributed a whole bunch to an English teacher who's about to go to Ethiopia. I'll try and find out if there are drop off points and such all year.
Thanks for making the effort. Hope this helps.

Posted February 9, 2009 09:44 PM

susan weaver


Ceramic Recycling at the new Jardin de Silice..
If one is looking for a place to bring their broken and old china or pottery.
Bring them to the "Jardin de Silice"
(Silica Garden) in Val David. With interest, I am so sure that we could have locations in the city where one can drop off their wares.
Thanks and visit www.1001pots.com

Posted February 10, 2009 09:08 AM

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