Every year, the City of Toronto manages close to 900,000 tonnes (almost two billion pounds) of waste. This requires money, energy, and resources and takes up valuable landfill space. Waste reduction should always be top of mind as the less waste produced, the less there is to manage. Join the waste reduction movement to reduce your environmental impact and help keep items out of landfill.
Do not take items unless you’re going to use them. Say ‘no’ to bags, receipts, extra napkins and cutlery. Avoid produce and other items wrapped in too much packaging.
Use reusable bags for shopping and gift giving, reusable bottles and mugs instead of disposables when on the go and real dishes and cutlery at events. When shopping, consider thrift stores and garage sales, as well as buying items in bulk using your own containers. Consider volunteering with a Reduces group in your neighborhood or start a new one!
Find new uses for things you would otherwise throw away. A few examples include using cookie tins for storage, turning old clothes into rags, using cans as pencil holders and using old jars as vases.
Attend a swap, whether virtual or in-person, or organize a swap with friends or neighbours. The Swap It Toolkit, a multi-language and customizable package of resources, includes everything you need to organize a successful swap event in your community, building, or workplace.
Consider borrowing or sharing less frequently used items, such as tools, party supplies, camping gear, sports equipment, board games and toys. Lawn mowers and ladders can be shared with neighbours, while clothing can be rented for special events. You can create a neighborhood sharing group like Junction Triangle ThingShare or Plate Share.
Extend the life of items like clothing, appliances and electronics by repairing them and keep an eye out for repair events in the city. Learn about the City’s Bicycle Repair and Sewing Repair Hubs. See a list of Toronto repair shops, upcoming repair events and other resources at Repair Café Toronto.
Plan ahead, buy only what you need and consider the impact of packaging when making purchases.
Please note: Due to COVID-19, not all organizations are accepting donations of clothing and other items at this time. Please check with organizations before dropping off items and do not dump items outside of donation bins.
Consider low waste, high impact gifts
Make your holidays low-waste
Get crafty when gift wrapping
When you can’t reduce or reuse, put holiday waste in its proper place:
Garbage: Mailer bags, bubble wrap, bubble envelopes, packing peanuts, foil/metallic gift wrap, ribbons and bows, wooden fruit crates, broken dishes, glasses and black plastics
Green Bin (organics): Fruit and vegetable scraps, meat (including bones), spoiled cakes and cookies, and soiled paper plates, paper towels and napkins (if soiled with chemicals such as cleaning products, place these in the garbage)
Blue Bin (recycling): Paper gift wrap and cards, plastic over-wrap, cookie tins, rinsed plastic disposable cups, plates, aluminum trays, roasting pans
Try one of these sustainable swaps to help reduce your everyday waste.
|Disposable Item||Sustainable Solution|
|Coffee cup||Reusable travel coffee mug|
|Disposable cutlery||Saying ‘no’ if you don’t need them or pack regular cutlery|
|Paper Napkin||Cloth napkin|
|Plastic or aluminum food wrap||Beeswax-covered cloth wrap or reusable container|
|Coffee pod||Brewed coffee or pour-over or reusable coffee pod|
|Plastic produce bag||Mesh or other reusable produce bag|
|Dryer sheet||Dryer ball|
|Paper towel||Tea towel or cloth rag|
|Single-use water bottle or carton||Reusable water bottle|
|Disposable bag||Tote or reusable bag|
|Parchment paper||Silicone baking mat|
|Disposable sandwich bag||Reusable silicone or fabric sandwich bag|
The average Toronto household throws out 17 kg (37 lb) of clothing and other textiles each year (based on City of Toronto household waste audits). That’s one trend that needs to end.
Textiles that are put into the garbage end up in landfill, where they take up valuable space and release greenhouse gases contributing to climate change. Manufacturing clothing also has a significant environmental impact from the raw materials and energy used to the pollution created in the process. Reusing or repurposing clothing extends its life.
Find non-profit organizations where you can donate clothing and other items. Find City-permitted clothing drop boxes. To get donation locations from your smartphone or tablet, download the TOwaste app.
Please note: the listing of these organizations is not a City endorsement.
Due to COVID-19, not all organizations are accepting donations of clothing and other items at this time. Please check with organizations before dropping off items and do not dump items outside of donation bins.
When contacting organizations be sure to confirm their location and hours, what items they accept and in what condition. The condition of acceptable items varies between organizations, but none want items that are wet, mildewed or contaminated with hazardous waste.
Non-profit organizations use donations in various ways. Some resell clothing and household items to provide support and/or employment for those in need and fund their activities and research. Others distribute donations directly to their clients. You can support these organizations by donating reusable items and shopping at their retail operations.
If furniture or appliances are not accepted for reuse, they can be set out for collection as oversized items on garbage day. If you live in an apartment or condo, speak with your building manager about where to bring furniture and appliances.
Electronics that cannot be reused or donated can be put out on garbage day for pickup or brought to a Drop-Off Depot or Community Environment Day. If you live in an apartment or condo, speak with your building manager about where to bring your electronic waste.
The City is currently developing a strategy to reduce the use of single-use and takeaway items – such as cups, bags and eating utensils – in Toronto. This supports the Waste Strategy’s recommendation to explore mechanisms within the City’s power, including bans or fees, to achieve greater waste reduction and diversion.
Many items that can be reused are thrown out every day. To help foster a culture of waste reduction, sharing, repairing and reuse in Toronto, the City is implementing five Community Reduce & Reuse Programs. Together, the programs will help to build sustainable communities and reduce the amount of waste going to landfill.
Food waste is a significant issue both locally and across the country. Over 50 per cent of food wasted in Toronto single-family households is avoidable. This includes leftovers and untouched food that could have been eaten at one point. Food waste often occurs when we buy too much, cook too much, or don’t store our food correctly. It’s estimated that avoidable food waste costs the average Canadian household over $1,100 per year.
Food waste reduction is a key part of the City’s Long Term Waste Management Strategy. Since food waste is not just a local issue, the City has partnered with the National Zero Waste Council, other government organizations and major retailers on the Love Food Hate Waste Canada campaign, a national effort to reduce food waste across the country.