Green Questions


What do I do with my light bulbs once they burn out? Is the garbage ok?

No, the garbage is not ok, especially if you use CFL bulbs, which do contain a bit of Mercury. Regular bulbs should be recycled as well because glass takes a long time to decompose in the landfills. Contact your local municipality for light bulb recycling/disposal options.

What do I do with my old computer or laptop?

Whatever you do, don’t throw them in the garbage. Look for programs that collect old computers for non-profit or charity organizations. Most of the ones we throw out are still very useable; they just are a little outdated. If you really have an unusable dinosaur, take it to your local eco-station or recycling depot - most cities have a method for recycling electronics.

Where do I start?

I know climate change and environmental conservation can seem overwhelming. So start simple: change a light bulb. If everyone in Canada changed just one light bulb we would save 400,000 tonnes of emissions yearly, not to mention the $73 million in energy costs.

What do I do with my old cell phone or mp3 player?

There are city recycle programs that accept used electronics like old computers, VCRs, cell phones, but the best thing to do if the item still works is to give it to someone who could still use it. Cell phones can still be used to make emergency calls in Canada/USA, even without a plan.

Where do we recycle appliances?

Most municipalities have a recycling center that you can drop them off at, or days when they do pick ups. Check with your local waste removal or municipal government for times and places. Another option could be, if the appliance isn’t too old and still works, to donate it to a local charity or shelter that will find a good home for it.

How do I pick a paint that is better for me than others?

Actually, not all paint is bad for you. Regular paint has chemicals in it to help it dry quickly. Look for low or zero VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) paint. It doesn’t dry as quickly, but won’t off-gas into your house. Even then, allow the paint to off-gas before moving in, or at least open the windows for the first few months.

What does the number in the recycle symbol on my coffee cup mean?

Interestingly, that number is not how many times that plastic has already been recycled. It means what type of plastic it is so when it goes to the plant it is easily sorted and recycled. Some municipalities only take certain kinds of plastics. Check locally to see what plastics you are able to recycle.

What’s the best way to teach my kids to be environmentally friendly?

Schools usually have great programs for children to learn about the environment. Integrating green practices into your own every day life is the best way to teach them, they will learn from your example.

Should I be running my drinking water through a purifier? Is city water okay to drink?

Most city water is ok to drink; call your local information line to be sure. If you do feel the need to run it through some kind of filter, get a container and filter that can be kept in the fridge, so you don’t have to run the water until it’s cold.

How can I tell if something is organic?

There is usually a Canadian Food Inspection Agency stamp on it designated “Canada Organic” or “Biologique Canada”. Any multi-component product with this seal is at least 95% Organic. Anything from 70% to 95% will have the percentage of organic food written on the stamp.

What do all the energy numbers on my dryer mean?

They can tell you exactly how much energy it takes to run your dryer. If you take that number and compare it with the price you are paying per KWh, it can also tell you how much it will cost you per load to wash and dry your clothes.

How do I find out which plants are best to use in my yard?

Hit a local greenhouse and ask an expert for advice. If you live in a dry area, try indigenous succulent plants. They come in a huge variety of options. These are a great choice because they take much less water to grow than other plants.

What can I do at work to be more eco friendly?

When getting to work, try an alternative transportation method, or car pool. Use both sides of paper, don’t print pages if it’s not necessary and if you do find yourself with unwanted paper, make sure you recycle it appropriately. Laptops consume less energy than desktop computers. There are also a lot of solutions that transfer from your home to your office, such as changing light bulbs and ensuring all plumbing and heating are working correctly and efficiently.

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