Give a gift that reduces waste
Photo credit: Venture Vancouver
(NC) Creative gift-giving doesn't have to be a major undertaking if you plan your shopping list with environmental responsibility in mind.
“Gift-giving is a part of our holiday culture,” says Brock Macdonald, chief executive officer of the Recycling Council of British Columbia (RCBC). “But giving in an environmentally responsible manner is the gift that keeps on giving to future generations – and that is something to celebrate.”
Macdonald advises making a contribution yourself with gifts like an experience, event tickets, homemade gifts, or by giving only energy-efficient products complete with instructions about how to dispose of them properly.
In 2011 alone, small household appliances and electronics accounted for $1.3 billion in sales, according to a Statistics Canada report. That number is 113 per cent higher than the monthly average for the year—and as Macdonald suggests, this holiday buying trend can have a significant impact on electrical waste generation.
Furthermore, in its most recent electronic devices disposal survey, Statistics Canada reports that 43 per cent of British Columbians had unwanted electronic devices in need of disposal. Of that, 57 per cent took them to a depot or drop-off centre.
“It's a positive start, but there is room for improvement,” Macdonald continues. “Especially considering we have access to more recycling programs in B.C. than anywhere else in the country.”
This convenience is largely due to the extended producer responsibility (EPR) movement that began in 1990, an approach that tasks industry with establishing a recycling system for its products at end-of-life. Today, there are 17 active industry-led programs in the province, translating into free drop-off for thousands of product types, including the electronics so readily purchased at this time of year.
“Most people are aware of the recycling system for cans and bottles, but similar programs also exist for a wide range of other consumer products,” explains Julie Robertson, the program coordinator at ElectroRecycle, a program for recycling small appliances and power tools in British Columbia. “Our program alone accepts more than 300 types of electrical products, from sewing machines to toaster ovens.”
ElectroRecycle was introduced in October 2011 and is the only government-approved program for these products in B.C. To date, the not-for-profit, province-wide initiative has recycled more than 5.2 million kilograms of electrical products.
For creative gifts with added value, join a growing number of Canadians who go “green” when it comes to holiday shopping.
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