Archive for July, 2018

5 Things You Can’t (Quite) Recycle

Posted by pauloneal

It might get confusing about what exactly we can recycle, and what goes in your garbage or organics bin. You might even be surprised that what you think can be recycled is in fact, garbage! Here’s a list of five things people think are recyclable when they aren’t.

Food-Soiled Pizza Boxes

Summer is the perfect time to host a family get-together or a housewarming party, celebrating your move into a new home. Many events like these are accompanied by food: barbecues, snacks, and yes, pizza. But do you know how to recycle properly at these events?

For starters, food soiled pizza boxes cannot be thrown away in the recycling bin. Food soiled pizza boxes include any with grease or oils stuck to the boxes. These must be thrown away in your organics bin. Some people may think food-soiled pizza boxes go in the garbage, but if your residential garbage pickup has a three-stream sorting option, then these must go in the organics bin.

Canadians are recycling wrong every year, costing them millions of dollars. If these pizza boxes are thrown in the recycling, then the other recyclables would be contaminated with the grease and made unfit for recycling. The receiving facility will then have to transfer all these contaminated recyclables to the landfill or composting facility, adding additional hours and costs to an otherwise efficient system.

What if your pizza box is un-soiled? Then, in Vancouver, these boxes are considered mixed paper and can be recycled in your blue bins.

Glitter Wrapping, Ribbons & Foil

It might be shocking to learn that glitter can’t be recycled — so that enticing glitter foil wrapping paper and birthday card isn’t looking too tempting anymore, right?

Allen Langdon from RecycleBC spoke with CBC last Christmas about the hidden dangers of glitter. Glitter heavy foil wrap, bows, and ribbons can’t be recycled and instead must go in the garbage. However people are still throwing them in the recycling bin thinking, or hoping, otherwise.

Regular wrapping paper is recyclable, and so are normal bows and ribbon and foil, but glitter is a big no-no.

“We can’t recycle [those],” Langdon says. “They become a contaminant and we ask people to put them in the garbage.” (CBC, 2017).

So when you’re shopping for a birthday card, or an anniversary gift, opt for a glitter-less card! Paper packaging is recyclable, and so is kraft paper. You can also check the back of the cards or wrapping paper to see whether they are made from recycled paper or not. Choosing recycled, post-consumer paper products is one way to reduce our waste. Or we can go without wrapping at all! Zero wasters have long since devised interesting ways to wrap a present, like wrapping a gift in a piece of cloth instead of paper.

Bubble Wrap Mailers

Bubble wrap mailers can’t be recycled in curbside bins in British Columbia, Canada.

Yet a pilot project by RecycleBC has 116 recycling depots accepting bubble wrap packaging starting June 1st, 2018.

The participating depots will be collecting flexible plastic packaging, like bubble wrap and zipper-lock bags and crinkly wrappers. Chip bags will be accepted, as will net plastic bags for produce. These, found at grocery stores, can be recycled by dropping them off at a participating depot.

But is it worth driving out of your way to recycle them at a participating depot?

It might seem counter-productive to emit emissions with your drive to these depots to recycle plastic packaging, but consider how often you encounter flexible packaging waste in your life.

Bubble wrap has become a popular disposable waste item because ordering items online is more convenient than ever. Think about how many people order from Amazon each day, and how many packages sealed in bubble wrap are delivered. It’s not just Amazon either — consider eBay, commercial businesses, and local mom and pop stores that deliver products to your door. Bubble wrap and padded envelopes — these are a necessity for sellers to make sure their items arrive undamaged, but at the cost to the environment.


So when you think about it, being able to recycle these bubble wrap packaging is a good step forward for BC.

However, the best course of action will be to minimize our waste in the first place, making sure we really need to purchase the item online to begin with. You can also reach out to some online stores to ask about alternative packaging options before they ship the item out to you.

In general, when we use less plastics we don’t have to worry about finding a place to recycle them!

Propane Tanks

Propane tanks can be recycled, so why are they on this list?

Because even if you wash your propane tank, you can’t recycle them in your recycling or garbage bins at home. They are not safe for curbside pickup.

They cannot be recycled curbside because they are hazardous materials, and in rare cases cause fires in garbage trucks if they aren’t emptied properly. If the tanks are not clean, the oil will end up contaminating the rest of the recyclables in these trucks, making all the waste ineligible to be recycled.

Propane tanks need to be transported to a landfill facility or if you’re in Vancouver, at the Zero Waste Center, which accepts up to two propane tanks per day per vehicle for free.

Beverages from outside of Canada

Can beverages from outside of Canada be recycled in Canada?

This is a trick question – of course, they can!

The only difference is that if you paid a recycling deposit fee for example in the US, you can’t claim the fee back here in Canada.

This can deter Canadians from recycling bottles purchased across the border but think about the environmental impacts of a can that isn’t properly recycled. So why not avoid the hassle of either driving across the border to return the bottle for the deposit fee, or feeling guilty about throwing the can away in the trash here in Canada,  and buy Canadian instead? Supporting local economies, bottlers, and suppliers will be more beneficial to the Canadian economy in the long run. Or, simply avoid buying bottled water and aluminum cans in the first place!

So How Can I Recycle Right?

There are many free resources online that can help you recycle right this summer. Recycling can be confusing, as rules are always being updated here in BC Canada. Different cities, municipalities, and even countries have different recycling rules, to make it even more confusing!

We found most of the information for this blog post from the City of Vancouver’s Waste Wizard page and from RecycleBC and the RCBC Recyclepedia.


116 Recycle BC Depots Collecting Other Flexible Plastic Packaging (RecycleBC, May 2018)

Other Flexible Packaging (RecycleBC, 2018). 

Many Canadians are recycling wrong, and it’s costing us millions (Emily Chung, CBC 2018)

Top 5 Environmental Issues We Deal With

Posted by pauloneal

We should be concerned about the world we live in, especially to protect our environment. We should all contribute in one way or another to make our planet a more sustainable, healthier, and greener place to live. We only have one Earth, so let’s make it count!

Here are the top five issues plaguing our environment today:

Climate Change and Global Warming

There is no doubt that anthropogenic activity (that is, human activity) has accelerated climate change in the last few centuries. Global temperatures are higher than ever, and sea level is rising faster than we anticipate. Massive chunks of icebergs are breaking off from the Arctic and Antartica ice sheets while other tropical regions are experiencing their first snowfalls. A change in climate is natural; we have had many cyclical ice ages and thawing periods. However, there is no denying that we humans are accelerating climate change faster than we can adapt to it.

What causes global warming? You might say it’s the greenhouse gasses we produce every day in our lives. From gas-guzzling cars to oil plants and refineries, all the gasses we emit into the atmosphere has an effect on our climate. Even the impacts of global warming can be felt in the oceans, not just on land. The Great Barrier Reef has lost its colours due to a process called ocean acidification that causes coral bleaching. On land, as climate affects local weather patterns, we are experiencing more intense heat waves and storms.

One of the ways we can drastically reduce our effects on climate change is to use renewable energy, like wind and solar power, instead of fossil fuels. Although transitioning to a fossil-fuel less society can be difficult, if we are to sustain the Earth for future generations, we must act now, before it’s too late.

Water Pollution and Scarcity

Water scarcity is a scary thought, as we humans (and other life forms) need water to survive. Water is sustenance; it helps life grow. A world without water is terrifying, and rightly so.

Many freshwater water sources around the world are drying up, simply because of longer periods of droughts and shorter periods of rainfall. As weather and climate patterns shift, areas of the world more prone to rain are receiving it less, while others are dumped more rain than they have ever seen before.

There is also another reason why we’re running out of freshwater: simply because there aren’t enough of it, and there are a lot of people!

As the human population continues to grow over the next decades, more resources are needed. But when only 2.5% of the world’s water bodies are freshwater (and not saltwater) and only 1% of that 2.5% is accessible, the odds don’t look nice. Most of our water is trapped in glaciers and snowmelt. When our world warms up, and these ice sheets melt, the freshwater inside these sheets does not end up in our freshwater supply. Instead, the freshwater melts into oceans, turning into undrinkable salt water.

One way we can combat water scarcity is by conserving our use of water to necessary tasks, like for cooking, cleaning, and washing.

We can also, surprisingly, reduce our water consumption by reusing and reducing the food and textiles we throw away each year. Agriculture and the clothing industry are big consumers of freshwater resources. A pair of jeans for example, take a lot of water to process and make, and lots of clothes are thrown out due to fast fashion each year. Agriculture is also energy and water intensive. The food we eat took countless of water, energy, and fuel to transport to our grocery stores. Yet so many food is wasted around the world each year.

Environmental Pollution

One of the reasons why fossil fuels are being phased out is because of its damage to our air. CO2 emissions from transportation and industrial activity, along with other chemicals like carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide contaminate the air we breathe. Too much of these chemicals also seep into our soil, contaminating our supply of water and food. When animals are at risk for bioaccumulation, we are too. Everything we ingest can contain bioaccumulated toxins starting from the plants that herbivores consume.

How do we stop our air, water, and land from being so polluted?

We can decide where to spend our money, what corporations we support, and altogether consume far fewer resources than we need. We can choose more sustainable methods of travel, or better plan our travels to reduce our CO2 emissions. If all 7 billion people on Earth do something small to pollute less, imagine what our world will be like.


Trees and forests are natural carbon sinks. They take harmful chemicals like carbon dioxide out of the air. Forests are also home to rich, diverse ecosystems where many animals live. Vegetation near rivers and streams (riparian) help maintain balance in the water and provide a home to important species that apex creatures depend on.

When we cut down forests, we lose soil stability. This makes sudden flash floods and rainfalls more deadly, as the trees’ roots cannot stop the soil from washing away. Clear-cutting forests also destroy the habitat of creatures living in them and make the soil unstable for decades to come.

We need to reduce the number of trees cut to keep our ecosystems alive.

Ecosystems and Endangered Species

As ecosystems continue to decrease, the number of endangered species continues to rise. Both the species and the ecosystem are continually being affected due to all the environmental issues. When a habitat is lost, the species living there will also be lost. Others may find a new place to stay while it may not be possible with others. Giving full support to organizations dedicated to fighting the extinction of species is one of the most effective ways to save species.


We have to take these issues seriously, as we are already seeing the consequences of our inactions. If we all do our part to take care of the environment, champion a green revolution, and conserve what we have, we can sustain the beauty of the Earth for many generations to come.

Maple Ridge Youth Wellness Centre

Posted by pauloneal

In 2017, we donated $ 500.00 towards the Youth Wellness Centre operated by Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows Community Services, where children and youth in Maple Ridge can go for mental health issue help.