Reuse and recycle better

Posted on Wednesday, April 7, 2021

A phone with the recyling symbol

Did you know that the average Canadian produces over 1,000 pounds of garbage every year? Every day, we thoughtlessly throw out plenty of things that could be repurposed! In this article, we’ll describe a few ways that you can reuse items you already own so that you can help minimize the amount of garbage sent off to landfills every year.

Repurposing jars

Some of the easiest items to reuse are glass jars, such as those used for pasta sauces. If you wash them out and remove the label, you have a jar with a lid that can be used for anything, for free! They’re great to use as pen holders, drinking cups, or plant pots, and can be used to hold or store just about anything. They can even be used to can pickles and homemade sauces. And when you’re done with the jar, you can just recycle it.


Composting is a great way to reduce waste, and it isn’t as complicated as it may seem! In addition to using the green bins that your city may provide, you can easily start your own personal composting bin at home with a few simple steps. Find a bucket or bin, throw in what you’re looking to compost on the bottom, then top that with a layer of leaves and grass. Keep in mind that most organic materials are fine to compost, except for dairy products, meat, or oil and fat.  Once you have added  a good 20-to-30cm of dry leaves and fresh grass on top of your composting materials, you’re good to go. Add water until the mixture is damp, cover, and leave in a dry, shaded area. Depending on the conditions you keep your container in, it can take anywhere from a couple months to a year or two to compost. Keep in mind that given our cold winters, you might get better results if you shrink your pile and keep it inside over the winter. You can mix your compost with potting soil, spread it on new or established lawns, feed spring bulbs with it, and even use it as mulch.


If you’re looking for ways to reduce your consumption and waste, you can always check the campus Free Store (100 Thomas More Private, Room 102) for things you need before buying them new. The Free Store accepts and “sells” a variety of items, including clothes, hats, blankets, textbooks, electronics, and more. You’ll even find things you wouldn’t expect, like school supplies and phone cables. You might also want to consider donating things you don’t need any longer for someone else to use, which is an excellent way of giving a second life to your old items and reducing the number of them you send to landfill. If you can’t find what you’re looking for there, Ottawa has plenty of other thrift stores, including the Salvation Army store at 333 Montreal Road, where you can find and donate books, electronics, clothing, and more.

Another great way to minimize waste is to make use of services like Kijiji and Facebook Marketplace. With over one million people in Ottawa, even something that you find insignificant and might be tempted to throw out could end up being of use to someone (and you might even make some money in the process). The same goes for when you are looking for something new: plenty of appliances that you might be considering buying new, such as cell phones, pots and pans, rice cookers, and even washers and dryers, can be found at a fraction of the price in online marketplaces and, if you happen to live downtown, they’re probably nearby.

These are only a few small ways you can repurpose your goods and help cut down on waste by re-using items. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure, right? Learn more about sustainability and waste reduction by visiting the Office of Sustainability website, where you can find FAQ’s, videos, and more ways to get involved.

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