Every year, the City of Toronto manages over 900,000 tonnes 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 and help keep items out of landfill.
‘Tis the season to be jolly, but with gift giving, gatherings and feasts, the holiday season can produce a lot of waste. Think reduce and reuse this holiday season.
Consider low waste, high impact gifts
- Give tickets to an event or show.
- Donate to a local charity on behalf of a loved one.
- Give the gift of learning with a course or class.
- Purchase a membership to a club, gallery, museum or zoo.
- Gift a service such as a cleaning service, spa treatment or oil change.
- Give a tour or getaway weekend.
- Host a holiday swap with parents in your area to exchange kids’ clothes and toys.
- Skip the single-use bag and tissue when purchasing an item at a store.
- Purchase a real tree, which is more environmentally friendly than a fake tree.
- Buy beautiful decorations that you want to reuse each year.
- Bring nature into your home by decorating with pine cones, plants and sticks
- Revive old decorations by adding a fresh coat of paint.
- Opt for reusable table clothes, plates, napkins and glasses.
- Shop second-hand for decorations to add to your collection.
Get crafty when gift wrapping
- Use old crate paper, newspaper, maps, or calendars as gift wrap.
- Reuse last year’s wrap, bows, ribbon and bags.
- Get creative with old clothes and turn them into gift bags.
- Paint and decorate bags and cardboard boxes.
- Make your own or invest in reusable fabric bags.
Make it a low-waste gathering
- Opt for reusable dishes, cups, cutlery, napkins and table cloths instead of disposable ones.
- Plan your meals and send guests home with any leftovers.
- Learn a new recipe to spice up leftovers.
- Host a donation party and donate canned goods to a local shelter.
- Throw a re-gifting party after the holidays to make sure the gifts given end up in appreciative hands.
When you can’t reduce or reuse, put holiday waste in its proper place:
- Garbage: Foil/metallic gift wrap, ribbons and bows, bubble wrap, wooden fruit crates, broken dishes, glasses and black plastics.
- Green Bin (organics): Fruit and vegetable scraps, meat (including bones), spoiled cakes and cookies, soiled paper plates and napkins.
- Blue Bin (recycling): Paper gift wrap and cards, cookie tins, plastic disposable cups, plates (if rinsed), aluminum trays, roasting pans.
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.
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.
Organize a swap with friends or attend one of the many swap events happening in the city.
Borrow tools, party supplies, camping gear, sports equipment, board games and toys from a lending library or share things like a lawn mower or ladder with neighbours. You can also rent clothing for special events or one-time use.
Extend the life of items like clothing, appliances and electronics by repairing them and keep an eye out for repair events in the city.
Plan ahead, buy only what you need and consider the impact of packaging when making purchases.
Give clothing, books, toys and more a new life by donating them.
Before you make a donation, please contact the organization 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.
Please note: the listing of these organizations is not a City endorsement.
View locations in a larger map
How donations are used
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.
What to do with items that are not accepted for reuse
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.
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.
Canadians are one of the highest among the developed nations when it comes to food waste. About 47 per cent of food waste across the country occurs in the home. This is costing the average Canadian household approximately $1,100 per year.
The City of Toronto has partnered with the National Zero Waste Council, the cities of Vancouver and Victoria, the Capital Regional District, Metro Vancouver, Province of British Columbia, RECYC-QUÉBEC, and major Canadian food retailers Walmart and Sobeys on a national effort to reduce food waste across the country.
Canada’s Love Food Hate Waste campaign is based on a successful education campaign model in the United Kingdom, where avoidable household food waste was cut by 21 per cent in its first five years, saving UK consumers £13 billion. Learn more about food waste in Canada and tips on reducing food waste by visiting Love Food Hate Waste.