Reducing waste saves energy, time, money and valuable natural resources. Making small changes to reduce waste in our everyday lives makes a significant difference.

Waste reduction initiatives

Battery collection

Curbside battery collection

City of Thunder Bay no longer offers the curbside battery collection program. However, batteries can still be recycled at designated drop-off locations.

Year-round battery recycling drop-off locations

These following locations accept primary (single-use) household batteries throughout the year:

  • Brodie Resource Library, 216 Brodie St
  • County Park Library, 1020 Dawson Rd, County Fair Plaza
  • Mary J. L. Black Library, 901 Edward St S
  • Waverley Resource Library, 285 Red River Rd
  • Victoriaville Civic Centre, 111 Syndicate Ave S (next to the Cashiers, during regular office hours)
  • Household Hazardous Waste Depot, Solid Waste & Recycling Facility 5405 Mapleward Rd
  • EcoSuperior, 562 Red River Rd
  • Thunder Bay 55 Plus Centre, 700 River St

Rechargeable/cellphone/laptop batteries are also accepted at the following retail locations:

  • The Source, Intercity Mall
  • The Source, Arthur Street Marketplace
  • Thunder Bay Communications, 1080 Lithium Dr
  • Best Buy, 767 Memorial Ave
  • MGM Electric, 724 MacDonnell St

Car batteries are accepted at the following locations:

  • Auto Parts Central, 1239 Amber Dr
  • Lakehead Alternator & Starter Co. Ltd., 565 Eleventh Ave
  • Household Hazardous Waste Depot, Solid Waste & Recycling Facility, 5405 Mapleward Rd
  • Magnacharge Battery, 625 Arthur St

Button batteries can be dropped off at the jewellery departments at Walmart.

Residents should call businesses ahead of time. Some businesses may charge a fee to accept your items.

Why recycle batteries

It is very important to keep batteries from going into the landfill. Batteries release potentially toxic metals such as nickel, zinc, lead, mercury, lithium, cobalt and cadmium into the soil, water and air. When the same batteries go into recycling, useful materials are recovered and contamination is avoided. Battery recycling even lowers greenhouse gas production by reducing the need to mine new materials

Christmas Waste Reduction

A great amount of waste is generated during the holiday season. Use these Christmas Waste Reduction ideas to reduce the waste produced in your household over the holidays.

Composting at home

Composting is the natural process of decomposition and recycling of organic material into humus, which is a rich soil additive. Compost improves soil quality by providing important nutrients and helps retain moisture, which will improve plant health. Composting diverts organic material from the landfill. It is good for your plants and it can save you money by reducing the need for fertilizer. 

Follow these simple instructions to turn your kitchen scraps and yard waste into a nutrient-rich fertilizer that your plants will love!

 

What is Composting?
  • Composting is the natural process of decomposition and recycling of organic material into humus, which is a rich soil additive. Compost improves soil quality by providing important nutrients and helps retain moisture, which will improve plant health.
Benefits of Composting
  • Composting decreases the amount of garbage you put out for curbside collection which reduces municipal collection and disposal costs.
  • Landfills are designed to keep air and moisture out, which are necessary for decomposition. Methane gas and leachate are produced when organics break down under these conditions, so putting less organic waste into your household trash will prolong the life of the landfill.
  • Compost is a valuable end product that improves soil and plant health, prevents erosion, retains moisture, and replenishes nutrients in soil. This reduces the need to water gardens and eliminates the need to purchase other fertilizers.
  • Compost is FREE!
Getting Started
  • Composting can take place in a bin or a pile. Bins help keep the compost neatly contained and can keep animals and pests out. You can purchase a composting bin or build your own from wood or wire mesh.
  • The best place for your composter is in a convenient, sunny location on level ground with adequate drainage.
  • Place a layer of sticks at the bottom of your composter to keep the pile aerated, and then alternate layers between browns and greens (see reverse side). Avoid adding thick layers of any one type of waste.
  • The process requires moisture and oxygen so it’s important to keep your pile moist and turn it regularly with a shovel or pitchfork. For finished composter sooner, stir it as often as every 3 to 5 days. Otherwise, turning every couple of weeks in warm weather will be sufficient.
How to Rodent-Proof Your Composter?
  • Put only vegetable matter in your composter
  • Wrap the bottom of the composter in strong mesh wire (1/4" hardware cloth)
  • Move your composter out in the open, rather than close to a fence or shed. An open area makes rats more vulnerable to predators.
  • Visit your composter more often!
  • Give your pets more yard time - dogs and cats make an inhospitable neighbourhood for rats.
  • Remove piles of brush or lumber in the yard and keep the garage and sheds free of clutter.
  • Remove bird feeders, or put them in a place where you can clean up spilled seeds daily - this is a major source of food for rats.
What Can Be Composted?

The “recipe” for successful composting is a ratio between “browns” (carbon sources) and “greens” (nitrogen sources). Remember: the smaller the particles, the quicker they will break down so be sure to chop up larger scraps like corn cobs before placing them in the composter.

 

Greens (Nitrogen-rich Sources)

Kitchen scraps such as:

  • Fruit & vegetable peels and cores
  • Egg shells
  • Coffee grounds & filters
  • Tea bags
  • Cut flowers
Browns (Carbon-rich Sources)

Yard waste such as:

  • Dried leaves
  • Wood chips or shavings
  • Straw
  • Dried cut grass
  • Weeds before they go to seed
DO NOT COMPOST
  • Meat
  • Bones
  • Dairy products
  • Cooking oil
  • Rhubarb leaves
  • Human or pet wastes
  • Charcoal or coal ashes
  • Inorganic material such as plastics
Troubleshooting Tips

Too dry/wet:

  • If your compost mixture is too dry (ie. dust appears when you turn it, it doesn’t stick together when you squeeze a handful) then add water. You can also try leaving the lid off when it rains. If it’s too wet, add carbon-rich browns to absorb moisture.

Odours/animals/pest prevention:

  • Odours arise when the pile is too wet or materials are too compacted. Turn the pile to allow it to dry out and to ensure that it is well aerated. When adding new material, make a hole in the top of the pile, stir in the organics, and cover with dry ingredients such as leaves. Always try to have a layer of browns on top of your pile. While critters like worms, centipedes, and other insects should appear in your composter to help the bacteria break down the material, these actions will help make the pile less appealing to animals and prevent flies, which are attracted to the odours of the greens.
  • You can also add soil at any stage of the layering process. A shovel-full of soil will introduce many soil organisms into your pile and act as an accelerator. A thin layer of soil added on the top of your pile also helps to discourage pests and prevent odours.
Using Finished Compost
  • Following instructions can produce finished compost in as little as 6 months. Without adding the proper ratios or turning the pile, the process can take up to 2 years.
  • Finished compost should feel like a wrung-out sponge. When you squeeze a handful of it, no more a couple drops of liquid should come out. It should be a dark brown colour, and should have a pleasant earthy smell to it.
  • Wait until the pile is fully inactive before using the compost. The microbial activity generates heat, so when finished, the centre of the pile should no longer feel hot.
  • Mix finished compost with garden soil to use in a flower or vegetable garden, no more than 8cm deep. You can also screen out larger items that have not broken down (twigs, etc.), return them to the pile, and spread finished compost on your lawn as a top dressing, no more than 1cm deep.
Winter Composting
  • You can continue adding to your composter throughout the winter—the material won’t decay until spring, but the freeze/thaw cycles make it break down quickly once spring arrives. When temperatures warm, just add a shovelful of dirt or dried leaves and give it a good mixing.

Composter subsidy program

City residents can purchase a composter at EcoSuperior, 562 Red River Rd., for only $45. Cash, cheque or debit are accepted. Make sure to have proof of address (any ID card or document with name and address). EcoSuperior will include all the information you need to get started. See EcoSuperior's Composter webpage.

 

Second Spin bike reuse program

Second Spin is a bicycle reuse program that reduces waste by offering bikes that have been disposed of at the Landfill site to residents for free. Learn more about Second Spin.

 

Pumpkin compost drop-off bins

Thunder Bay Pumpkin Collection BinAfter the Hallowe'en celebrations are over, residents are encouraged to drop off their pumpkins, jack-o-lanterns, and organic fall decorations to one of the pumpkin compost bins. Do not put candles, plastic bags or trash in the bins.

Pumpkin Compost Bins are in place starting Nov. 1, for approximately 10 days. Bins are available at the following locations:

  • Westfort Playfield - Neebing Avenue
  • Intercity Shopping Centre overflow parking, across Fort William Rd. - beside The Whole Nine Yards
  • County Fair Plaza

This popular collection began in 1995 as part of Waste Reduction Week programs coordinated by EcoSuperior and paid for by the City of Thunder Bay. Since that time, nearly 400 tonnes of pumpkins have been diverted from the City's landfill to the composting facility. The pumpkins are blended with leaf and yard waste and wood waste to be made into compost. The compost is available to residents at no charge for pickup in the spring.

Hazardous product alternatives

Making your own household cleaning products is less expensive, safer for you and for the environment, and there is less packaging.

Make your own everyday cleaning products

All-purpose cleaner

1/4 cup baking soda

1/2 cup white vinegar

2 litres of warm water

Mix all ingredients together. For tough grease and grime, you can add a 1/2 cup of ammonia. Be careful though, ammonia when mixed with bleach produces deadly fumes.

Glass cleaner

1/2 cup white vinegar or lemon juice

1/2 cup warm water

Stir until mixed. Pour into a bowl or spray dispenser. This cleaner will effectively remove greasy fingerprints. Ball up old newspapers and rub on windows sprayed with mixture.

Toilet bowl cleaner

Mix baking soda and water and use a brush to clean the bowl. To disinfect, add a little borax and let it stand for 30 minutes and then scrub.

Drop 1000 mg of vitamin C in the bowl and leave overnight, then scrub. The bad news is that frequent cleaning is the answer.

Laundry detergent

1/3 cup washing soda

1 1/2 cups soap flakes

Add 1/3 cup of washing soda as water is filling washer. Add clothes. Then add 1 1/2 cups of soap. Use 1/4 cup of white vinegar in the rinse cycle to soften clothes.

Carpet shampoo

1/2 cup of dishwashing detergent

1/2 litre of boiling water

Mix dish soap and boiling water. Let cool. Whip the paste into a stiff foam and apply to carpets with a damp sponge. Work into carpets, a small area at a time. Wipe off excess suds. Rinse with one cup of white vinegar mixed in 4 litres of luke warm water. Dry and vacuum.

Make your own garden products

Fertilizers

Instead of chemical fertilizers, use organic compost, and fish meal. Leave the grass clippings on the lawn instead of raking them. If you practice grass cycling, the nutrients from the clippings will be reabsorbed into the soil. When you think about it, if you fertilize your lawn too much it will grow faster and you will have to cut it more often. Do you really want to spend every Saturday cutting the lawn?

Pesticides and herbicides

Ant Control: Pour a line of cream of tartar, red chili powder, paprika or dried peppermint at point of entry. Garden Insects: Use organic gardening techniques. Strong hosing washes insects from plants. Pull weeds instead of using herbicides. The leaves of houseplants can be washed with soapy water and then rinsed.

Fly killers

Keep garbage cans clean. Wash and sprinkle dry cans with pure soap after they have dried. As an alternative, use flypaper strips available at hardware stores.

Tips for everyday chores

Oven cleaner

Commercial oven cleaners are corrosive to skin and eyes. The best strategy for dealing with ovens is to line the bottom with aluminum foil or a metal tray that can be removed and cleaned in the sink. Spills are easier to clean up if attacked before they are baked on. Sprinkle tough spots with dry baking soda and leave for 15 minutes. Then scrub with a damp cloth. Put baking soda on a wet sponge to clean the glass oven door.

Refrigerator freshener

Put a dish of pure vanilla or an open box of baking soda in the fridge.

Bathroom cleaners and disinfectants

Bathroom cleaners need to be able to handle soap scum and mildew. Many commercial bathroom cleaners are marketed as disinfectants that kill germs. A good general purpose cleaner and a scouring powder are all that is needed in most homes.

Drain cleaners

Use a plunger or mechanical snake and flush drain with 1/4 cup of baking soda followed by 1/2 cup white vinegar. Let stand for a few minutes then pour in boiling water.

A strainer in your drain may help prevent clogs from forming. Pouring boiling water down your drains once a week should help too.

Spot removers

For blood, mildew, butter, chocolate, coffee, mud or urine stains, dissolve 1/2 cup of borax in 2 cups of cold water. Dab on stain and let dry, then wash as usual. For stubborn stains, dab spot with a cloth dampened with 1 teaspoon of vinegar in 1 quart of cold water. If this fails, try straight vinegar. Club soda or immediate cold water is considered a safe and effective spot remover for most stains. Ink stains should be soaked in milk. Wine stains can be removed by pouring salt and then cold soda water on the stain immediately. Soak in milk before washing. Gum: Rub with ice and gum will scrape off. Grease: Use borax on a damp cloth.

Silver polish

Soak silver in 1 quart warm water with 1 tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. salt and a small piece of aluminum foil.

Brass polish

Mix equal parts salt and flour with a bit of vinegar and rub. Polish with Worcestershire sauce. Don't forget to wear your gloves.

Furniture and floor polish

Dissolve 1 tsp. lemon oil into 1 pint of mineral oil. Polish unvarnished wood with olive, peanut or almond oil. Rub toothpaste on wood furniture to remove watermarks.

Rug and upholstery cleaners

To clean and deodorize carpets, vacuum; sprinkle liberally with baking soda then vacuum again. Or, clean and deodorize carpets by mixing together 2 cups of cornmeal and 1 cup of borax. Sprinkle on carpets, leave for one hour and vacuum. For tough stains, try cold soda water or blot repeatedly with vinegar and soapy water. Always test for colour fastness on a hidden section of carpet.

Litter box freshener

Place baking soda or borax in the bottom of your pet's litter box.

Lawn and garden greening

There are many ways you can help the environment in your own backyard.

Grasscycling

Grass clippings are not accepted in the City's Leaf & Yard Composting program, or picked up at the curb. When mowing the grass, leave the clippings on the lawn. Clippings are a natural, nutrient-rich fertilizer. Leaving them on your lawn saves you time, reduces waste and promotes a healthy, resilient root system. In turn, a healthy lawn helps to purify our air and limit stormwater runoff.

Xeriscaping

The goal of xeriscaping is a garden in which the plants can survive during dry periods without water or fertilizers. Water your garden only when necessary, and use a soaker hose for a longer period, rather than a sprinkler or running hose for a shorter time. Also, use mulch (chopped leaves, bark or pea gravel) to reduce water evaporation.

Pesticide-free gardening

Achieving a green and healthy lawn and garden without pesticides is not difficult, but takes a bit more planning. The key to a successful pesticide-free lawn and garden is using a variety of plants, and checking that they are naturally pest resistant. The next step is to provide conditions that will make the plants naturally healthy, which include appropriate soil, sun and water.

Spring Up to Clean Up

Spring Up to Clean Up logo with heart, land and tree

As the snow melts, litter comes to the surface in our neighbourhoods and affects the beauty of our community. Spring Up to Clean Up brings residents out to pick up litter and help make our city clean, green and beautiful.

Every year since 1997, thousands of community members volunteer their time to clean up Thunder Bay by picking up litter from local streets, parks, walking trails, and their own neighbourhoods.

The month-long event is funded by City of Thunder Bay and delivered by EcoSuperior.

Ways to Participate

  • Community and family groups: Organize a group of friends and/or family to collect litter around your block, at your favourite green space or shoreline area, or plan a neighbourhood-wide cleanup. Get creative and plan a walking or hiking adventure while picking up litter.
  • Workplaces, organizations, and clubs: Plan a time to get together and clean up the area around your workplace, business, church, community centre, or club. Cleanups are a great team-building activity that will benefit your group and the environment!
  • Schools: Get students together for a schoolyard cleanup or supervised clean up in the area around the school property. Teach students the harms of litter in our environment and inspire environmental stewardship.  

For more information, see EcoSuperior's Spring Up to Clean Up webpage.

 

Treasure exchange days

Are you searching for that special something? Want to get rid of an item you no longer need? Thunder Bay's Treasure Exchange Days are a great opportunity to exchange reusable household items, furniture, small appliances, toys, and more for free!

Treasure Exchange Days are held twice a year, during a weekend in June and in September.

June 2024 "Best Treasure" Contest!

Post photos/videos of your best "finds" to Facebook or Instagram on June 14, 15 & 16 and tag with #TreasureDays. Make sure your posts are "public." We'll browse & share, and the very best treasure will win a prize!

How Treasure Exchange Days work

  • Clearly label items you wish to give away with the word "free." Place them at the curb after 5 p.m. on the Friday of the Treasure Exchange Days
  • Keep items that are not giveaways, like bikes, toys and tools well away from the curb to prevent misunderstandings
  • Over the weekend, tour your neighbourhood to see what great deals you can find at the curb
  • Remove all uncollected items from the curb by 7 p.m. on the Sunday of Treasure Exchange Days. Items left at the curb are subject to enforcement as per City By-laws.
  • If your treasures are not claimed by other treasure-hunters, consider donating them to such local agencies as the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Salvation Army Thrift Store, Canadian Diabetes Association Clothesline and others.

The Treasure Exchange Days event is an action item from the City's Solid Waste Management Strategy.

 

Waste Reduction Week

 

Waste Reduction Week is in October.

Each fall during the third week of October, residents of Thunder Bay take part in the nationwide Waste Reduction Week program to raise awareness of changes we can make to reduce waste. EcoSuperior Environmental Programs, the City of Thunder Bay and many community partners coordinate a dynamic range of activities. 

Waste Reduction Week is funded by the City of Thunder Bay and delivered by EcoSuperior. For more information on Waste Reduction Week, visit EcoSuperior's website or call 624-2141.

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